Social Media Books – Oxymorons or Valuable Resources?

Julie Schorfheide is director of books publishing at CASE and is always on the lookout for new, relevant and well-written books that will help CASE members in their professional lives.

Some people might file the phrase “social media book” with other oxymorons such as “jumbo shrimp” or “electric candles”—or they might just laugh at the thought of a slow medium having any relevance at all to the fast-changing world of Twitter, blogs, Facebook and the other usual suspects in the social media lineup.

Herein lies the challenge for those of us who seek to sort through a rather overwhelming list of books on the topic of social media: Which ones are relevant, and will they still be useful in another six months?

I came right up against this challenge when trying to find books to send to CASE’s Social Media & Community conference next week. As I began the selection process, I kept these questions in mind:

  • Will this book help the reader craft a social media policy?
  • Will it help the reader maintain a strategic outlook?
  • Does it seem forward-looking?
  • Does it address questions of community, relationships, reputation?
  • How recently was it published?
  • Is it well written?

And here’s what determines if any publication makes the final cut: How readily adaptable to the advancement profession is the message and focus of the book?

The good news is there are many books about social media. The bad news is…there are so many books about social media. Do you read any of them? If so, what criteria do you use in selecting which ones to read?

3 responses to “Social Media Books – Oxymorons or Valuable Resources?

  1. I read all the time, but my criteria is validity. Books about tools have to be by credible authors and books about strategy have to include valid research and data. I am reading two very good stratgey books now–Katie D. Paine’s Measure What Matters and Oliver Blanchard’s Social Media ROI. Both are true “business” books. No fluff and put on your thinking cap. I teach some workshops, so updated tool books are important–I consider it a necessary cost of professional development. I don’t buy every tool book, but I buy some. For instance, I just bought Dan Zarella’s Facebook Marketing Book. He is the tops when it comes to research–he is Hub Spot’s social media scientist. I don’t buy tool books that are more than six months old. If you are following social media on Twitter, blogs and newsfeeds, you know who the authors are and, chances are you can find reputable reviews. I agree w/Greg about Groundswell. Everyone should have a copy and follow Charlene Lei’s blog.

  2. The problem with social media books is they are either too elementary or they become outdated too quickly. The best book I have found is Groundswell, because it gives a big picture understanding about the cultural shift we are in from mass media to massively participatory media. And then it gives real case study anecdotes that users can relate to and learn from. The books that try to get into the nuts and bolts about “how to send a tweet” or “how to drive up your number of facebook fans” fall flat, in my opinion.

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