Five Must Reads

Several folks have asked me which books I would suggest reading in addition to Now Is Gone (Shameless promo moment: Have you bought your copy yet?) to quickly grasp of the new social media environment. There is an appendix in the back of the book listing more than 20 books, but here are the five books (all books are hyperlinked) I recommend to quickly understand the new two-way conversational media. Two of the books are not in the original appendix.

wikinomicsThe first book is the quintessential book on collaboration using social media technologies. Wikinomics gets into the economic underpinnings of enterprise activities using social media. This book demonstrates the power of web 2.0 and how it’s defeated traditional web 1.0 properties to become the predominant form of online media. More importantly it builds a case for business sense.


Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s quintessential classic Naked Conversations really makes the case for corporate blogging. A few years later it still makes a great case for engaging with your community. Just consider the larger social media mix in addition to blogging. I highly recommend this book as it is full of great examples, ranging from Microsoft’s Channel 9 to the Horsefeathers restaurant blog.

crisispr Risk Issues and Crisis Management from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations has nothing to do with social media. Yet it has everything to do with communicating when your organization is under fire. Companies can find great insights on how to speak directly to stakeholders through social media with this book. It recommends prompt, timely communication, how to offer factual authentic information and demonstrate transparency into critiqued affairs, and just downright common sense. It’s too bad more companies don’t use these principles in their everyday communications.

Odd Bedfellows

cluetrain You can’t market in social media environments without reading the Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s the dream of the new conversation, the heart and soul of every blogger and socially engaged individual. It understands the spirit of new media environments, and makes some pointed comments about marketing to people instead of the masses. Yet at the same time, Cluetrain is flawed in that it represents an ideal, a beautiful one, but one that may not be obtained. Of particular relevance to marketers are the passages by Christopher Locke and Doc Searls.

cult This next one pained me. I really didn’t want to recommend it as Keen’s reactionary prose often reads like neo-conservative rants from Pat Buchanan. At times his hypocritical depiction of web 2.0 users as monkeys reminded me of Joseph Goebbels.

Yet this book does finally cede that web 2.0 will not go away, and that a balance will need to be struck with traditional media. That’s why I recommended Keen’s book. Because old media is not going to go away, and eventually the social media trend will level off, creating a need to integrate outreach across both forms. Somewhere between Cluetrain and Keen lies the end result. Readers who find Keen’s kvetching to be tiresome should just skip to the final chapter on solutions. I wish I had.

Also, I realize that some folks see my views of social media to be utopian, and may view recommending Cult as a big departure. Not so. See past my past posts on the topic: