A couple of years ago I remember hearing an online marketing “expert” discussing social media with a small group. He was rather importantly announcing that social media was a pointless enterprise for businesses, whether they were big or small. He believed it all to be useless hype, with next to no payoff. This coming from a man proclaiming to be an expert in the field.
While at the time I thought he was being rather short sighted, I now realize he was actually being completely ludicrous. It was more than failing to predict the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter as a PR tool. It was not seeing the wide applications that were already taking off at that point. He was missing what was happening in his own industry, right in front of his face.
Social media in all its forms has become something more than the optional step into the modern business model it used to be. Now it is mandatory. Businesses from large corporations to tiny mom and pop shops are expected to have an online presence of some level. Not having a Facebook page, Twitter account or blog can actually lose you business.
The best way to learn about social media is through both studying and participating. When you are doing so as a business, learning more about it before venturing out can be a good plan. That way you avoid common pitfalls – and full on social disasters – and increase the positive results from your campaign.
Here are twelve amazing, free ebooks on the subject from some of the leading experts in the field.
Professor Daniel J Solove teaches law at the University of Washington. His main topic of interest seems to be privacy, and the effects of privacy thanks to commonly used technology. This book covers social media specifically, and the way it has effected personal reputation. He points out that a single mistake – or even a prank, joke or personal moment – can ruin someone’s life. Social media has made it possible. His book covers the pros and cons of a system that eliminates privacy and makes such an impact on reputation.
Why cast your net out into open, empty waters? You should fish where the fish are, and focus your attention on the most populated areas of the social media ocean. This book written by Chris Brogan talks about how to do this, with a focus on buying cycles and ecommerce applications. It is all presented in six stages, broken down to resemble the basic marketing model.
This updated version of the book written by John Jantsch has gone more in depth when it comes to specific social media sites. You can find a lot more info on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and how all three can be used for both business networking and direct customer engagement. The chapters on blogging and social search are also incredibly helpful.
Hubspot has once more released a great ebook without any frills. This 34-page ebook focuses on enhancing your social media presence on four key sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. They don’t bother adding in anything that won’t be directly helpful for users.
Brent Leary focuses on both social and mobile integration of a social media plan for businesses of all size. The basic idea is to increase customer engagement through five different approaches. He believes the trick is “socializing the business culture”, rather than the technology that businesses use. He makes a very interesting case.
Drew’s Marketing Minute teamed up with MakeUseOf to create this introductory guide to using Facebook for effective marketing. This covers tools on the site, how to use them, how to acquire and process data, putting together a campaign, reaching customers and more.
Blogging guru Debbie Weil got together responses from dozens of professionals to the question of why they believed their blog to be their social media hub. Bloggers for big names like Ford and IBM were amongst popular writers like Seth Godin Sandy Carter. All blog owners should read this.
One problem many people have when they use professional social media is productivity. It is too easy to be distracted, and it is possible to put too much effort into a social networking account when you should be placing it elsewhere. But Amber Naslund tackles the problem, showing you how to properly manage your time online in this area.
9. Real Time
David Meerman Scott is well known for both his blog and his several ebooks written between 2007 and 2010. This was his latest, and it is still just as relevant today. It talks about marketing and PR in social media. But mostly about how marketing has become a gam played in real time, rather than planned ahead. He talks about coping with this change, and developing a strategy for it.
Using social media is well and good. But how do you make sure your workforce is equipped to handle it? This ebook talks about how to train your employees in the art of online communication and social media use. From customer interaction to reputation management, it is a very helpful ebook.
Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law wrote this ebook that is considered a must-read on any social media book list. It isn’t an easy read, by any means, Densely written, full of technical jargon and largely academic, it might take some focus. But it will teach you a great deal about the true nature and benefits of social media, especially where sites dedicated to networking are concerned.
Brian Solis wanted to present the ultimate guide for beginning social media. Presenting the idea that it is about social science, rather than social technology, he teaches you what that means and how it will change your approach to the entire process. It is both academic and practical, and so definitely one you want to read. At only 20 pages, it is also a rather light read.
Do you have a social media ebook you would like to share? Leave us a link and description in the comments!