22 Best Social Media Books of 2013 & 2014 Back to School Reading List


22 Best Social Media Books of 2013 and 2014 - Back to School Reading List!

It’s back to school time!

As we enter the 2014-15 school year, regardless of our social media strategy, it’s time to take a step back and make sure that we have made use of all of the knowledge that surrounds us. While blog posts are everywhere, there’s a lot of priceless content in books that go deeper than any blog post can. In fact many popular phrases that we use when talking about social media for business such as “Inbound Marketing,” “Likeable,” or “Youtility” are actual books which contain authoritative content on the subject matter that resulted in these keywords becoming ubiquitous.

In what has become my annual tradition (albeit it’s been awhile since my last list…), it’s time to take a look back at the incredible additions that many authors have made to our understanding of social media from a wide variety of perspectives. There are still timeless books that were published before 2013 that I still recommend, so if you’re playing catch up, make sure you check out my best social media book lists from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The self-publishing revolution and ease of publishing books in ebook format means that there is no lack of content out there to read on social media, but however subjective this list might be because it is written by a person (moi), I am hoping to steer you to books that hopefully you will consider a worthy investment of your time. I should also point out that this is a list of recommended books that were published in paper format. I am aware that there are more and more – and better and better – books being published exclusively in ebook format; however, being an author of paper books, I appreciate the extra effort and investment that go through the creation of a paper book. Call me old fashioned, but I still love going to the library or local Barnes and Noble and smelling paper. I hope you do too.

Without further adieu, here’s the list of 22 social media books that have been published over the last year and a half that I believe are recommended reading in order to keep up with understanding social media for business – as well as the latest business trends that intersect social media – from a wide variety of perspectives, and I guarantee you that you will continue to find the content fresh enough to inspire you well into 2015. As always, I have done my best to classify these social media books according to convenient categories, some of which I have included a brief explanation for. I’ll be the first to admit that the categories aren’t perfect, but hopefully they make it easier for you to digest and help you pinpoint the next book you might want to read.

Note: It was not easy choosing only 22 books as there were many other excellent choices out there. If you’re the author, publisher, or reader of a book that I missed, feel free to chime in on the comments at the end of this post. Thanks!


The evolution of social media, social business, big data, digital, mobile, gamification – there are many keywords we hear everyday, but what does all of this mean for our business? Here are four unique interpretations for you to consider in understanding what the future of business holds for your company – and what you can do to address the future today.

Converge: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology

Converge by Bob Lord and Ray Velez - Recommended Social Media Book

How would you like to tap into the minds of the leaders of one of the pioneering digital marketing agencies and get a glimpse into the future of marketing? This book allows you to do so, with the CEO and CTO of Razorfish, who have worked with numerous global brands, providing us their unique perspective on how to transform your business as marketing and technology converge in this disruptive age of new media. This book will show you how to take advantage of rapid technological changes to innovate through adapting your business processes and applying the principles of agile development throughout your organization. By the end of the book, you’ll be rethinking your organization and learning how to converge marketing and technology to empower the customer.

Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business, Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It

Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel - A Recommended Social Media Book

Mitch Joel convinces us that the digital trends we have seen are signals of key movements that have changed business forever. In this scenario, if we don’t completely re-build our business model, our companies (and our personal careers) are doomed. We can rest assured that few businesses have acted upon them and there is time for us to adapt, and Mitch provides us with what we need to do take advantage of this environment to adapt, learn and stay ahead of the curve. This book will help you better understand all of the changes going on around us and give you the confidence that you can thrive in such an environment by taking his advice and rebooting your business strategy.

Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification

Loyalty 3.0 by Rajat Paharia - Recommended Social Media Book

The founder of one the first and leading companies specializing in gamification, Bunchball, provides us with his insight on how motivation, gamification, and big data can be utilized to foster a newer and stronger type of loyalty in today’s connected age. This book is especially relevant to those in social business in that it looks at loyalty not just amongst customers but also employees and business partners. Case studies are provided which bring the lessons of the book to life and actionable ideas allow you to implement to create stronger relationships of value throughout the enterprise that will undoubtedly result in creating a competitive advantage for your company.

What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Ways Businesses Create Experiences

What's the Future of Business by Brian Solis - Recommended Social Media Book

Social media thought leader Brian Solis is back with a customer experience-centric look at the future of business and why it is important to rethink our business models to incorporate the power of this user experience. By rethinking the many ways your brand “touches” your customers, you can see the variety of ways in which you can be re-engineering the customer experience for the better. Using real world analytics and real-life examples of the connected consumers that we call Generation C, you’ll learn how to future-proof your business by creating and investing in meaningful and sharable experiences for your customers.


These three books will help you better empower your company – from employees to leaders to your partners – to build a better brand, more engaging content, and a new culture which will help you beat out the competition in the new era of social business.  (Note: If you’re interested in the related topic of employee advocacy, make sure you download the free e-book I co-authored How to Build an Employee Advocacy Program.)

The Most Powerful Brand on Earth: How to Transform Teams, Empower Employees, Integrate Partners, and Mobilize Customers to Beat the Competition in Digital and Social Media

The Most Powerful Brand on Earth by Chris Boudreaux and Susan Emerick - Recommended Social Media Book

With the advent of employee advocacy, brands are trying to figure out how to leverage the benefits of employee and partner empowerment. The problem is that your employees were never trained for, nor are experienced in, engaging in public conversations in social media on behalf of your business. Furthermore your company was never set up to be a real “social business,” and thus leaders must take on new roles and manage new risks in parallel. Utilizing their own experience leading global enterprise social business programs for IBM and other companies, the authors present frameworks and case studies that will both inspire you to act as well as provide you sound processes to help manage the cultural transformation to becoming a social business.

The Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work

The Social Employee by Cheryl Burgess and Mark Burgess - Recommended Social Media Book

Fellow Rutgers University Mini-Social Media MBA Professors Cheryl and Mark Burgess have created a much-needed book to help you build a successful social business by empowering what they call the new “Social Employee.” With case studies of notable companies that have empowered their employees to use social, including IBM, Cisco, and Adobe, this book is an excellent primer on internal social media and will show you how to create value and improve your company culture by leveraging your internal resources in a new way.

Your Brand, the Next Media Company: How a Social Business Strategy Enables Better Content, Smarter Marketing, and Deeper Customer Relationships

Your Brand: The Next Media Company by Michael Brito - Recommended Social Media Book

We all have heard that, in this new world of mainstream social media, brands must become media companies in order to better reach consumers. But how does a brand go about doing so? A true pioneer of the social business space, author Michael Brito, utilizes his social business consulting experience to guide you through the entire process, and in doing so brings together all of the elements and practical approaches you need for transforming your brand into the media company you want to become. Now only will you better understand content marketing in context, but along the way you’ll learn a lot about the social customer, real-time command centers, editorial teams, the integration of paid, earned, and owned content, as well as how other brand leaders such as Red Bull, Burberry, and Sharpie created their own media companies.


The importance of content in social media cannot be underestimated, and whether you want to brush up on your quality, or in the words of one of the authors featured below, Gary Vaynerchuk, to “triple down on content,” these books will help you create more, better, and differentiated content that will help you beat your competition and be heard above the growing noise.

Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time

Born to Blog by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith - Recommended Social Media Book

I’ve always argued that a blog deserves a role in every social media strategy, and now there is finally an accessible book on business blogging that will provide you practical advice and ideas to help you create and manage a business blog. Everything from the basics of blogging and writing powerful content to promoting your blog are covered with a plethora of examples. As we enter the world of social business and employee advocacy, more and more of us will undoubtedly become content creators over time, and this will be the guidebook that will provide both the knowledge and inspiration for beginners to being on their blogging journey as well as for advanced bloggers to look for new ideas.

Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less

Epic Content marketing by Joe Pulizzi - Recommended Social Media Book

The true Godfather of Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi, is back to re-define content marketing in an age where more and more companies are jumping on the digital publishing bandwagon. Epic Content Marketing is about creating content that your customers actually want to engage with – not merely content that interrupts them like in the days of traditional marketing – and Joe provides enough in-depth case studies from companies to show his content marketing techniques can directly led to greater sales. If you’re just churning out content and haven’t been able to align your content marketing program with business objectives, you need to read this book and do a hard reset on your content marketing strategy!

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Jan, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk - Recommended Social Media Book

Gary Vaynerchuk is back with a “how-to” book on how to tell your story in social media and adapt it to all of the different social media platforms out there. Through explaining his “six rules of outstanding content” and showcasing relevant case studies, Gary will have you rethink what “storytelling” means in the context of social media. As Gary says, communication is still key, but context matters more than ever – and he provides us all a blueprint about developing content that will truly engage with your customers by using new narrative forms that are specific to each of the social networks covered in his book.

The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand

The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

If there was one chapter in Maximize Your Social that I would rewrite today, it would be the chapter on visual social media marketing. Leveraging the visual and establishing a “visual voice” has become vital for every business to engage not only in the visual social networks of Pinterest and Instagram, but also to get better noticed in all of the other social networks. This book is your definitive guide to visual storytelling for social media co-authored by one of the pioneers in the space, Ekaterina Walter. This book itself is visually stunning and packed with enough visual information to convince you the power of visual social media before you even complete the book!

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype

Youtility by Jay Baer - Recommended Social Media Book

Jay Baer writes the definitive book that provides us the background for successful content and social media marketing: Providing a resource for our customers. By helping, instead of selling, brands can cut through the clutter and be recognized for lending a helping hand, building strong brand awareness and loyalty that results in increased business over the long term. Case studies as well as stories from Jay’s personal consulting experience add fuel to his argument that by genuinely helping your customers, you truly can create customers for life. What are you waiting for? Go out and help your customers NOW!

In case you missed it, I interviewed Jay Baer about Youtility on my Maximize Your Social podcast. Listen to Jay describe his book in his own words!


Why do some things go viral and others don’t? What role does word of mouth marketing have in the big landscape? These two books are the latest to cover these evergreen themes in marketing.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Contagious: Why Things Catch on by Jonah Berger - Recommended Social Media Book

Why do some things go viral while others go un-noticed? If you’ve ever wondered about this – and understand the value of knowing the answer to this question from a business perspective – this book is a must read. Wharton Marketing Professor Jonah Berger has spent many years researching this very question, and now he presents us with his groundbreaking findings so that we can all leverage it for our businesses. That’s right: This book actually explains the secret science of how word of mouth and social influence work. Packed with entertaining examples of viral campaigns backed with painstaking analysis into the science of how they are socially transmitted, this book also provides a set of specific, actionable techniques to aid in the spread of your own information.

Highly Recommended: Harnessing the Power of Word of Mouth and Social Media to Build Your Brand and Your Business

Highly Recommended by Paul Rand - Recommended Social Media Book

We all know that famous stat from Nielsen that 92% of consumers said that a word of mouth (WOM) recommendation is the top reason they buy a product or service. If you’re looking to become a successful social brand, then, you need to understand this new environment and literally get people talking about you. This book provides you a step-by-step guide in not only fully understanding this new environment of today but also helping you find out where your customers are talking about your brand, create engaging content to attract new customers, connect with your influential customers, and manage negative word of mouth. A collection of case studies will help give you the confidence that you can reinvent your marketing and thrive in the new social economy.


Social media is a powerful tool that can and should be utilized by sales professionals, but it requires a new “social selling” mindset to be properly leveraged. Duct Tape Selling will provide you with this mindset.

Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer-Sell Like a Superstar

Duct Tape Selling by John Jantsch - Recommended Social Media Book

Back in 2011, I wrote in my introduction to Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing that, “Social media further blurs the line between sales and marketing…for example, someone working in sales may find it worthwhile to use LinkedIn for gathering business intelligence and making contact with leads that are passed to them by the marketing department, while those in marketing might concentrate their efforts on generating discussions and leads in industry-specific LinkedIn Groups.” Fast forward to 2014 where the lines have blurred to the point that Inside Sales departments are often responsible for generating social media leads and salespeople have taken on a role that used to be exclusive to marketing = (personal) branding. The author John Jantsch takes this new social media environment and applies it to the old sales process by introducing the salesperson to the age of modern selling. The premise of this book, that salespeople need to think more like marketers, is appropriate and effective at convincing you to use inbound marketing (as well as social selling techniques) to thrive in this new environment of today.


Social media was made for people to connect on, and there are a variety of ways that we as people – and representing our businesses – can leverage the “relationship” aspects of social. From improving your social networking, finding decision makers, engaging with influencers, turning customers into “fans,” or merely reminding ourselves that marketing comes down to relationships, these books will give you unique insight on the “human” side of social and power of relationships to power your brand.

Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing

Influence Marketing by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella - Recommended Social Media Book

Influence marketing continues to be the rage, but how many companies are still mystified by the concept or are actually doing it in a way that impacts their bottom line? This book demystifies the concept of influence marketing and gives you a practical, actionable framework which will allow your company to move influence marketing from a “nice-to-have” peripheral exercise merely generating brand awareness in social to one of lead generation and customer acquisition. This book is full of facts and case studies that will make you rethink your understanding of influence marketing – for the better, of course. Instead of analyzing Klout scores, this book will help you start by understanding the influence of your current customers and working from there. A refreshing and enlightening read.

Return on Relationship

Return on Relationship by Kathryn Rose and Ted Rubin - Recommended Social Media Book

As Maximize Social Business alumni and co-author of this book, Kathryn Rose, stated sometime ago here, “Is it really all about relationships? Yes, it is!” Based on that premise, together with Ted Rubin, the co-authors teach you about the special importance of relationships in the new connected economy that we live in, and how social media drives engagement, loyalty, and business, in that order. With a community-based perspective on social media, the common-sense approach in this book in essence applies the basic and best principles of human relationships to the age of social media.

The Social Media Side Door: How to Bypass the Gatekeepers to Gain Greater Access and Influence

The Social Media Side Door by Ian Greenleigh - Recommended Social Media Book

Any B2B salesperson who has employed social selling techniques has experience in bypassing gatekeepers in real life as well as utilizing social media to help gain access to others in a large organization. Built upon these same concepts, this unique book shows you how to use “the social media side door” to gain access to other individuals for any objective that you might have, whether it might be reaching out to influencers, forging business relationships, or even looking for a job. If you are looking for practical strategies to create relationships of value with new people through social media, you’ll want to read this insightful book.

There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human: #H2H

There is No B2B or B2C: It's Human to Human by Bryan Kramer - Recommended Social Media Book

I had a chance to meet with the author, Bryan Kramer, as part of the social media influencer team at the recent Cisco Live! event in San Francisco (you can see our video interview below), and he is one author who is as articulate in his book as he is in real life in delivering truly unique insight that simply makes good (business) sense. Taken from the perspective of the ever-changing world of marketing and how social/digital changes the landscape for businesses, this is the definitive book that will help guide your organization (and yourself as a professional) to become more “human” in all of your interactions with customers, prospects, and other social media users and make better and deeper relationships with them that will benefit your company. #H2H is a new movement founded by Bryan – and it’s for real.

Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans

Think Like a Rock Star by Mack Collier - Recommended Social Media Book

Remember when we used to call Facebook Pages “Fan Pages?” After all, if you think of the most passionate relationships that consumers can have, being diehard fans of musical artists comes to mind. In this unique book, the author Mack Collier further expands upon this concept to teach us how to transform our customers into true fans – brand evangelists that will help amplify our presence both online and offline. Mack helps you understand the value of your most passionate customers and gives you enough advice and case studies to help you find and convert them into true brand advocates. I’m not a fan of many of the rock stars he included in his book, such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, but his descriptions of how they built an army base of fans and how that is applicable to business was convincing.

Your Network is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success and Happiness in the Digital Age

Your Network is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale - Recommended Social Media Reading

If social media comes down to relationships and we are now part of an ever-growing connected culture, the value of connecting and networking is more important than ever in this digital age. Porter Gale reminds us of this in her entertaining guide full of stories and complete with case studies, advice, and strategies to help you build your own network. Porter shows you how to establish, expand, and nurture your connections by providing them value both online and off. Having had the chance to meet Porter in person at the 2014 Social Media Marketing World (see picture below), I can say that she is as genuine a person as her words and stories are in her book.


A social strategy is the solution to the biggest problems that social media marketers face, yet most companies either don’t have a comprehensive one or don’t have a social strategy that is aligned with business objectives.

Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success

Maximize Your Social by Neal Schaffer - Recommended Social Media Boook

Yes, I am the author of this book. Through my own social media consulting, I wanted to create a resource that will allow the reader to create their own social media strategy. I obviously wouldn’t put my own book on this list if I didn’t think it would add value to your business, and being encouraged by the reviews I’ve received so far on Amazon, I’m taking a deep breath and adding it. Once again, this is a subjective list, but if I wasn’t writing a book that I would recommend to others, why write it, right? Below is the book trailer in which I describe my book in my own words, if you were curious to find out more:

Now it’s your turn: Were your favorite social media books of 2013 and 2014 included in this list? Any missing? Please chime in. THANKS!

About the Author:

Neal Schaffer, Founder and Editor-In-Chief

The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer

Maximize Social Business