All posts by jmbarry

Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #10 The Impact Equation

New York Times bestselling authors, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, provide an excellent overview of how to captivate social media audiences and create trust around your content ideas in their book, The Impact Equation. The timing of this book fits the post-social boom era where social media marketers now need to regroup around behavioral strategies for getting your ideas to resonate across channels while creating a following in the process. This book, in other words, is more about conversational strategies and ideas for content than social technology strategies. 

In this unique approach to covering the basics of content marketing, the two authors tap into the behavioral skills required to get on your audience’s radar; get your point across; open an avenue for greater exposure; and then get them to see you as themselves.  But they do it in a fun way and convincing way that appeals to our natural tendencies to socialize. 

The Impact Equation ranks as top social media book

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level courses. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Using their acronym C-R-E-A-T-E (contrast, reach, exposure, articulate, trust and echo), the authors tackle the challenge of social audience building and content engagement through psychological metaphors often using well known celebrity examples. C for Contrasting, for example, covers the full spectrum of awareness and idea strategies covered in most content marketing texts. The A for Articulation then covers many examples where ideas resonate or fall flat based on how simple a story is told. 
  2. The social media background and popularity of both authors as experienced bloggers adds credibility to their success claims.
  3. Examples are provided throughout the book of well known cases using their C-R-E-A-T-E formula. The examples sometimes lead to a “fill in the blanks” exercise for the reader as well. 
  4. The book is well organized around a typical social media marketing curriculum. The authors roll out their formula for idea generation. They then advance to audience and exposure building. Finally, they lay out a case for social platform activation where audiences can judge your content and unique ideas for suitability and trustworthiness. Though less clinical in style to typical text books, the topics are introduced in a sequence consistent with the steps taken in a typical content strategy plan.
  5. The books is exceptionally entertaining.

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. A professor would have to weave in technical aspects of social content marketing into the C-R-E-A-T-E formula. It might be better to use the text as a behavioral supplement that hones student skills in blog writing, content amplification, fan engagement tactics and audience development. 
  2. A number of topics like native advertising, context marketing in a social, local, mobile (SoLoMo), real-time mobile marketing and community management would have to be covered under supplementary materials.
  3. Restricting social content marketing to a course on audience behaviors becomes a challenge for professors also tasked with teaching the basics of enterprise-wide social campaigns, integrated platform strategies and other MBA level concepts.
  4. Though fun and easy to read, the style of the book does not lend itself well to critical thinking exercises where students are challenged with debatable concepts or provided decision making frameworks that reinforce their learning. 

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Highly recommended supplementary reading for an undergraduate course in content marketing or social media marketing. 

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of The Impact Equation as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #11 Global Content Marketing

Pam Didner’s book on Global Content Marketing is long overdue. This is a must read for companies engaged in global strategies. By combining a current perspective on content marketing with a long awaited framework for global scaling and management, the author builds a strong case for a complete course built around this book. The popularity of the topic obviously stems from the growing dependence of global marketing on social media and digital content for communications. Ironically, like mobile adaption, its growing importance is widely neglected by even large brands.

The race for storytelling, real-time responsiveness and buyer journey alignment has arguably taken its toll on global adaptation. This book amazingly covers almost every aspect of content planning, however, that global marketers need to consider in their regional content strategies.    

Global Content Marketing ranks as top social media book

Pam Didner as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a primary reading for MBA and undergraduate level courses. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Pam Didner’s extensive background in global marketing and social media for large brands lends credibility to the proposed planning process.  Her fresh insights on the 4Ps (Plan, Produce, Promote and Perfect), in particular, show promise as a content framework for sales enablement.  The Plan part of the process encompasses rigorous reviews of metrics, persona targeting objectives and global management buy-in strategies. The Produce section lays out steps for global content production, the conducting of audits and developing content for sales enablement. Extensive tips are given at this stage on how to localize content and align it to the buyer journey. The Promotion section describes how to globally scale paid, owned and earned avenues for content promotion. Finally, the Perfect section covers the measurement aspects of content required for both sales enablement and service.
  2. The book fills a gap in global context now widely adopted by many universities. The author points out many pitfalls in cross-cultural disconnects and orchestrating headquarters and regional offices when content assumes a “one-size fits all” global context.
  3. The author shows an excellent grasp of the most recent and future challenges in content strategy development. Much attention is given to the tailoring of content to personas, channel preferences and inbound marketing objectives that could benefit domestic content development as well.   
  4. Each chapter provides a number of mini-cases especially useful in capturing some practitioner perspectives backing the author’s redefined 4Ps. This provides a substantial amount of material for professors to consider in critical thinking exercises. 
  5. The book is well organized to fit a typical strategy oriented curriculum. Starting with a rationale for priority attention, it progresses to global team building strategies for content planning set-up. From there, the author provides a chapter by chapter introduction to her Plan, Produce, Promote and Perfect framework that lines up well with a typical content marketing curriculum. Tips on global scaling run parallel to the discussed topics. This enables a systematic development of a global content plan while keeping the sequence of familiar content marketing steps in tact.
  6.  The book has a broad appeal to large brands and small organizations. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The general focus of the book is on global adaptation. Though highly important to global brand operations, it has limited appeal to professional services, entrepreneurs and SME’s focused only on a domestic audience.  This presents a challenge for book adoption in a broad social media marketing course or by universities that do not appreciate a global perspective in student learning outcomes.  
  2. As a content marketing book, it would likely have to be supplemented by other textbooks covering the networking aspects of social media marketing. For example, topics like influence marketing, fan engagement strategies and context marketing in a social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) setting are not well covered in this text. 

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended primary reading for an MBA or undergraduate courses in content marketing. Recommended supplementary reading for global marketing management.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Global Content Marketing as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #12 eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale

Ardath Albee offers perhaps the most complete and in-depth course aid for sales nurturing in a social age. Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was selected as the primary text for NSU’s MKT 3240 course. Especially for those in B2B circles, the book offers convincing strategies for advancing prospects through the sales funnel with content that is contagious, well aligned with the buyer stage and tells a story. 

eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale ranks as top social media book

Ardath Albee as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a primary reading for MBA and undergraduate level courses focused on social selling or B2B social media marketing. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Ardath Albee is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the field of inbound marketing. As a 25 year veteran of B2B corporate marketing and business development, I found this book to be the most effective and convincing source for getting up to speed on what social media and content marketing is doing to change the selling landscape. It starts with Ardath’s deep understanding of the traditional selling process.  And it continues with her excellent grasp of how content could facilitate the entire prospect courtship process. 
  2. The book is crafted for the serious professional looking for takeaway tactics and realistic strategies for complex selling. Especially at a time when nearly 90% of B2B buyers now embrace content, this book offers detailed instructions for attracting prospects, progressing them through the sales funnel and scoring them in the process. 
  3. Topic organization is well suited to a course module on the subject of B2B social media marketing. The overall organization follows progression through the sales funnel. Starting with an understanding of personas and the buying process, the book progresses its readers through competitive considerations and constructing engaging content. Especially useful at this stage are sections on natural nurturing, designing your story and facilitating conversations through these stories. Once the content framework and style of communications is aligned with each buying stage, the rest of the book focuses on observing, qualifying and progressing leads based on content tracking behaviors. Sales folks skeptical of social media will love this.
  4. Some fresh insights are provided on how to create a problem/resolution-oriented buyer synopsis, a conversational context and competitive content structures. But unlike theory driven books, these insights are backed with numerous practitioner examples. 
  5. This book provides an excellent visualization of the entire eMarketing process while providing detailed examples of the digital scoring, tracking and measuring steps avoided by most books on this subject.  

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The book is intended for complex sales. Missing for a complete curriculum are strategies for visual storytelling, mobile context marketing and influence marketing. It’s excellent organization across a typical curriculum may, however, present an opportunity to pair it alongside a B2C oriented text.  
  2. As a 2010 edition, the material relevance could fade soon especially in areas like big data, visual content, native advertising and mobile apps. We understand a new book is in the works, however, which I suspect will reach a top 5 rating. 

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended primary reading for an MBA or undergraduate courses in social selling or B2B social media marketing. Recommended supplementary reading for eMarketing or B2B marketing.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #13 Content Rules

Now three years in the making, Content Rules still rules. This book provides some great insights on how content consumers think and what content marketers should consider when laying out plans for content. Especially at a time when marketers have abused content with search engine trickery, funnel baiting and worthless curation, this book provides a convincing rationale for how to engage readers in a meaningful way. 

Content Rules ranks as top social media book

Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a primary reading for select undergraduate level courses focused on content marketing. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. The authors, Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, are among the most well versed in the field. Their expertise extends across the psychological, strategic and tactical aspects of content marketing. The psychological aspects in particular strike a chord with readers as we see ourselves abused with shilling, impersonal contexts and irrelevant content. From a strategic perspective, the authors lay out a convincing approach to sequencing content with concepts like reimagining, stoking the campfire and rooting the content into a framework that lends itself to discovery and sharing.
  2. The book is fun to read. The authors make a great pair of funny, down to earth educators uncharacteristic of content gurus. They start with the mindset of consumers and gradually build a case for how to connect with them logically and emotionally. They then advance to the various types of content formats that fit your strategy using the same entertaining style. Even long lists of pros/cons and content descriptions seem easy to digest perhaps due to their extensive use of picture stories. 
  3. The book is very well organized around a content marketing curriculum. It starts with audience understanding and progresses through content selection criteria. The latter is accomplished by first considering the trust building strategy and then considering the formats suitable to buyer stages.  This resonates with what is normally taught in the classroom.
  4. Mini-case studies are available in a “back of the book” segment to reinforce concepts.

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The book is devoted to content marketing. Missing for a complete curriculum are strategies for amplifying content, real-time context marketing, developing influence and creating fan engagement outside of content. 
  2. Surprisingly, this 2011 edition is still relevant in today’s fast changing social eco-system. I find myself constantly referring back to their detailed content evaluations despite more recent publications. Where the book may fall short in 2015, however, is in areas of hyper-targeted and contextually adapted content as well as visual storytelling. The latter is briefly covered but arguably to a lesser degree than that required to depict today’s content marketing eco-system.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended primary reading for an undergraduate courses in content marketing.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Content Rules as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #14 Inbound Marketing

For social media marketing courses aimed at lead generation and nurturing, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah offer a complete primer on the subject. Their Inbound Marketing book provides a cradle-to-grave formula for applying social channels, SEO and content marketing as a substitute for outdated outbound marketing techniques.  

Inbound Marketing ranks as top social media book

Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah as authors of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a primary reading for select undergraduate level courses focused on lead nurturing. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. As pioneers in the field, the authors provide a convincing argument why marketing should be taught using non-interrupting, permissive approaches to trust building. Especially at a time when scholars and practitioners are bombarded with complex optimization strategies, brand storytelling trends, ever changing mobile marketing strategies and costly engagement tactics, this book serves as a refresher as to why we got here in the first place. Concepts like building remarkable content, using your website as a marketing hub, designing effective landing pages and strategic placing the right calls to action are often lost in today’s overcrowded library of content marketing books.  
  2. The book is well organized to fit a funnel strategy especially useful for sales personnel. Early chapters deal with getting found by prospects through quality content, social media and legitimate SEO tactics. Subsequent chapters take readers through the sales conversion process while updating us on visual content and software tools. Most books take the opposite approach, thereby making the case for revenue generation rather weak. This book’s focus on attracting, tracking and building trust at the right stage in a buyer’s decision cycle is a far better approach to convincing skeptical social media adopters that inbound marketing produces results.
  3. As experienced marketing automation providers, Halligan and Shah offer credible and proven examples of tracking and advancing prospects through the sales funnel. 
  4. The book is one of few oriented to entrepreneurs seeking start-up adoption of inbound marketing. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The book serves more as a primer or tutorial than a critical thinking framework for MBA students to digest. Chocked full of social business and start-up tips, it leaves a professor with the task of challenging students to be resourceful in their own strategic decision making. In other words, the book is more of a prescription for success than a foundation for strategic skill building. Consequently, many MBA learning outcomes will not be achieved under a curriculum modelled after this book. 
  2. The book requires at least a supplement to cover many of the brand behavioral aspects of social media and content marketing. As it stands, it covers more of the marketing automation aspects of inbound marketing. Subjects like mobile context marketing, influence, advocacy or using content for brand lift would have to dovetail one of the funnel stage discussions or be treated totally separate from the book’s intended scope.  

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended primary reading for an undergraduate courses in social selling or social media for lead generation and nurturing.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Inbound Marketing as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #15 Visual Storytelling

Perhaps the most widely discussed 2014 prediction for social media was the blossoming of visual content and storytelling. Brands are clearly embracing this brand building concept, and academia is recognizing its importance in curriculum development. But where and how we incorporate these topics into a social media or content marketing syllabus remains a challenge.  The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio offers a timely and convincing approach to how this might be done. 

Power of Visual Storytelling ranks as top social media book

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio as authors of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level and MBA programs. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Walter and Gioglio provide perhaps the most comprehensive overview of  how visuals are used in social network and mobile platforms. Chapters are devoted to the networks’ capacity for creating  video and image-intensive content. And highly useful advice is offered on how to best produce GIFs, cartoons, infographics, slides, animations, short-form video and a myriad of other visual formats. 
  2. The authors combine their extensive client brand and social media experiences  to provide a credible approach to adopting visual content. Their tips and tactics are colorfully explained and routinely backed by statistical findings as well as convincing brand examples.
  3. The book is very well written in a conversational style that actually excites readers. I really enjoyed reading this book. Also, some highly useful tips on visual techniques make it an excellent reference for visual production.
  4. The book is very well organized around a strategic oriented MBA class format. The book begins with an argument supporting the rise of visual popularity and advances to a proposed 7 step strategy process. From there, detailed descriptions are given to each of the major social networks capable of accommodating a visual content strategy. These tactical instructions extend to the creation of new visual formats thereby providing an excellent overview of the how and where to incorporate visuals. These descriptive backgrounds culminate in a strategic roadmap that outlines the steps for adopting a visual oriented game plan. Consistent with curriculum on social media marketing, the book then discusses portability to real-time mobile devices and performance measurement. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The book is written primarily for practitioners seeking tactical advice on the adoption of a visual content strategy. There are no critical thinking exercises. Instead, it is written more as an instructional overview and tactical reference.
  2. The term visual storytelling may not do justice to what the book can really do for a course on social media marketing. The book is more about the adoption of visual content in a changing social media landscaping. Readers may infer from the title that it addresses the growing demand for brand storytelling such like that described in Bernadette Jiwa’s “Fortune Cookie Principle” or the many 3D videos we are seeing from Chipotle and others that better explain the hero/villain story arc and its impact on building brand goodwill. Nevertheless, the authors seem to be implying that their roadmaps, evidence of visual effectiveness, and tips for creating visual campaigns will naturally and collectively lead to an effective storyline. Maybe it does; but for professors expecting a module on storytelling techniques, this book’s title may be misleading.   
  3. The book does provide a near complete overview of almost every topic covered in a social media or content marketing course. Networks and content development are described in great detail. And a blueprint for adopting visual content could well apply to any social media marketing strategy.  But herein lies the challenge. The book has to be positioned either as a visual content module or a parallel reference to the entire syllabus where every topic is reinforced with a visual content perspective. The former would lead to several redundancies. The latter, however, may work. The authors’ engaging writing style and solid grasp of strategic formats may well complement a primary text.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended supplementary reading for undergraduate and MBA courses in social media and content marketing.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Power of Visual Storytelling as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #16 Go Mobile

As more internet access now comes from smart devices than desktop computers, university curriculum for social media courses are adopting modules devoted to mobile marketing. Few books provide an extensive overview of social local mobile (SoLoMo) technologies and mobile customer experiences that would qualify for academia. An exception is Go Mobile.  The authors, Jeanne Hopkins and Jamie Turner, provide an excellent overview of how mobile is changing the social media landscape.

Go Mobile ranks as top social media book

Jeanne Hopkins and Jamie Turner as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level and MBA programs. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Hopkins and Turner provide a broad enough perspective of mobile marketing to encompass a complete module on the topic. Extensive discussions are devoted to mobile optimized advertising campaigns, mobile search, mobile e-commerce, apps, mobile websites, location based services and QR codes.
  2. The book is well organized around a college level curriculum with beginning chapters devoted to understanding the mobile landscape, classic marketing mistakes, large brand usage and the mobile customer experience. Subsequent chapters get application specific with the final chapters devoted to B2B usage and ROI measurement. This organization resembles a marketing plan format that progresses from situational analysis to strategy, tactics and measurement.   
  3. Chapter Ten provides insights into the thought process of professional service consumers. Overviews of customer experiences are provided for banks, hotels, universities and a number of other service industries to consider in building mobile responsive websites.
  4. The book is very well written and compartmentalized around distinct chapter topics. Each chapter ends in a “Do This” and “Don’t Do This” to reinforce learned concepts.  

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. Given the fast paced change in mobile technologies, this 2012 edition will likely have to be updated before 2016. Advances in messaging apps, wearables and big data, in particular, will require eBook and blogs to complement the text. 
  2. A detailed case study or multiple mini-cases would enable more critical thinking exercises for MBA level courses. Without them, instructors are left to construct exam questions or project assignments. The book itself, however, is descriptive in nature. Consequently, the material does not lend itself well to the more complex and strategic oriented evaluation techniques used to assess MBA level learning outcomes.
  3. Despite the growing popularity of mobile marketing topics in social media marketing curriculum, the scope of topics covered in the book represents around 20% to 25% of a typical syllabus devoted to social media or content marketing. 

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended supplementary reading for undergraduate and MBA courses in social media marketing.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Go Mobile as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #17 Age of Context

For those fascinated with wearable technology or struggling to predict the feasible potential of big data, this is a great resource. The Age of Context provides a comprehensive overview of what is likely to happen with location based services, wearable technology, big data, sensors, privacy and mobile in general. For practitioners in social media marketing, it is a must read. 

Age of Context ranks as top social media book

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel as authors of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, also qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level and MBA programs. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel clearly have the technical insights to back their predictions. Their stories of high tech possibilities are backed by their expert grasp of social media behaviors as well as their personal exploration of technology. 
  2. The book fills a gap in contextual marketing and IoT understanding that professors and practitioners otherwise glean from fragmented blogs and research papers on the subject.
  3. The two authors make a great pair.  The seemingly odd pairing – some describe as a technical pundit and business consultant – makes for a dynamic dialog.
  4. The authors provide sound rationale and plenty of examples to back their future vision. This contrasts with the many 2014 predictions that widely overestimate technology adoption. 
  5. The book provides a convincing argument of how context will change how we use technology and social media. This fits in well with curriculum aimed at projecting future behaviors and marketing practices. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. Despite the fascinating perspectives on what big data, the cloud, sensors and Google Glass can offer consumers and brands, the book seems to miss an opportunity to lead the way in contextual marketing. If instead they referenced a number of conceptual or behavioral studies, students might be more convinced of the psychological dimensions of context. Their great chapter on “contextual self,” for example, should be appended by some journal articles on the subject.  
  2. Being a mix of mobile tech and context raises the question of where to position the book in a social media marketing curriculum. If classes are structured around a SoLoMo perspective, the book fits in very well. If not, the book could perhaps follow social advertising as the first exposure to contextual marketing and then lead into an overview of either mobile marketing or technology (e.g., IoT). 
  3. The book’s evolving technology storyline makes it a fun and fascinating read. The authors take a topical approach to introducing a myriad of new tech and changing consumer perspectives. On the other hand, it makes it challenging for professors tasked with constructing critical thinking and strategically oriented exercises as well as tying the topics to learning outcomes.  A suggestion would be to use the book as a prelude to models depicting contextual behaviors or frameworks for dissecting the psychological aspects of context.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended supplementary reading for undergraduate and MBA courses in social media marketing as well as IMC.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Age of Context as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #18 Think Like a Rock Star

This is a fun book to read. I believe it qualifies as the best on the subject of fan engagement.  In his book “Think Like a Rock Star,” Mack Collier draws a perfect analogy for turning customers into fans much like the way rock stars treat their fans. 

Think Like a Rock Star ranks as top social media book

Mack Collier as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level and MBA programs. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Few books give such adequate coverage to this part of the sales funnel. Mack offers numerous examples of how powerful fans can be when you relinquish control and let them advocate. The examples start with familiar rock stars for picture stories and progresses through examples of brands that lead the pack in customer advocacy.
  2. Some solid examples are given in later chapters on how to implement brand and customer advisory councils with practical approaches to getting buy-in.
  3. The book provides an excellent example of how employee advocacy can be adopted in the real world of social media skepticism and social business challenges.
  4. His concepts are tightly integrated around “drawing relevant insights from existing customer feedback and conversations, with the end goal of creating more connections with and better understanding fans.” He then explains the value of this customer understanding to the bottom line. Few books tackle this beyond its value in customer service. Instead, Mack ties his concepts to the power of brand ambassadors, employee advocacy and even influence marketing (to a point) in driving business. 
  5. The book is highly current and very relevant to today’s challenge in adopting enterprise-wide programs to implement ambassador programs.
  6. The book is well organized around convincing first, then dealing with tactical issues and finally setting up an organization to mobilize and empower fans and employees. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The subject matter applies to one or maybe two classes at the MBA and undergraduate level.
  2. It is tough to draw critical thinking exercises at the end of each chapter. It almost requires you to finish the entire book before assigning case oriented exercises. I believe this can be done, but it will take some work on the part of a professor. 
  3. The last few chapters get highly instructional around the subject of creating and managing councils.  Although beneficial to practitioners tasked with implementing ambassador programs, the detailed steps could lose a student audience more interested in strategy.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended supplementary reading for MBA/undergraduate in social media marketing or IMC.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Think Like a Rock Star as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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4 Archetypes of Top Social Media Influencers

Did you ever wonder what traits are associated with the top influencers in your industry? An examination of the top social media influencers led to the following 4 archetypes. 

sample social media leaders

Attributes of Social Media Influencer Archetypes Match Strategy Effectiveness

In the same way that social media influencers are told to make their  content informative, instructional, entertaining and inspirational,  we can easily identify social media leaders that excel in these attributes. Although marketing scholars would argue at this point that a rigorous discriminant analysis would then be required to demarcate each attributes’ contribution to audience growth, this exploratory analysis will first consider what we know of these social media influencers.  There are limitations, however, to consider when drawing conclusions on whether these archetypes can be confirmed from a subjective evaluation technique. 

First, much of the background on the popularity of social media influencers was gleaned from Klout scores, which many will debate is a suspect tool in which to affirm influence. Second, the dominant attributes assigned to each social media influencer were decided from content revealed in social network endorsements, the sampling of twitter dialogs and my own personal perceptions of these social media influencers’ ability to draw a large following after reading their books and attending their conferences. 

That said, a sorting of social media leaders having expert-level Klout scores into categories reflecting their most dominant attributes revealed the following two dimensions as a framework for classification: 

  • A communication style ranging from a predominantly insightful to a predominantly engaging way to connect with their audiences.
  • A rapport building purpose ranging from being predominantly educational to being predominantly inspirational.

Combining the two-axes then gives us four archetypes of social media influencers: Analytical Pundits, Mentors, Evangelists and Motivators

social media influencersPlacement of Top 100 Social Media Influencers 

Analytical Pundits Thrive on Education and Insightfulness

Most in the field of social media would likely attribute the popularity of David Meerman Scott, Sarah Lacy and Danah Boyd to how well they educates us.  In essence, we count on these social media influencers to interpret the industry’s technical makeovers and their impact on our marketing practices.

Some like Lee Odden accomplish this by leading the way on predicting how changes in technology will affect our search engine marketing strategies. Others like Brian Solis provide deeper insights into how social media is reshaping our social business practices. 

Common to all of these analytical pundits is a drive to be the first to interpret strategic meaning to technical developments and changes in user behavior. And as their fans, we trust in the accuracy of their judgments while anxiously awaiting their take on industry shake-ups or their predictions of what technologies will really materialize in the future. 

Mentors Thrive on Helpfulness and Engagement

Mentors among these social media influencers, on the other hand, serve a different purpose. Though not always as insightful as their intellectual counterparts, their influence scores are among the highest. These folks are seen as being educational and engaging. The latter is an especially distinguishing attribute as very few analytical pundits have active dialogs with their fans. As noted in the engagement statistics below, analytical pundits often have ratios of followers-to-following averaging around 20:1. To the contrary, mentors have ratios typically less than 2:1. 

Social Media Influencer StatisticsEngagement Statistics Associated with Social Media Influence Archetypes

Highlighted in this category are social media influencers like Kim Garst, Marsha Collier, Bryan Kramer and Darren Rowse. They all show dedicated commitment to their many fans. Jay Baer, for example, regularly dives into LinkedIn discussions and blog posts with tips for the blogger as well as words of encouragement.

Following the LinkedIn recommendations supporting those listed as coaches, it’s clear that fans appreciate their help and responsiveness. Their twitter feeds show an extremely highly level of dialog beyond just thank you’s.  Kim Garst, in particular, will respond and even converse with her nearly 300K followers on what is going on with their lives. Mentors like Jay Baer seem have a genuine passion to teach us tricks of the trade through their engaging podcasts. These behaviors are not as prevalent among the other 3 archetypes. 

Motivators Thrive on Engagement and Inspiration

In this next group, these motivators often take the route of staged performances and air time to launch their audience exposure. In even the most mundane of industries, it is hard to imagine social media influencers reaching the top of audience exposure without at least some flair for comedy or lively interaction.  From Joe Pulizzi’s infamous orange suit to Andrea Vahl’s “Grandma Mary” alter ego, many social media influencers capture their audience’s attention through entertaining chats, webinars and posts. 

The key to gaining influence as an entertainer, however, is to make sure the style fits your personality. Many social media influencers turn comedian at conferences and on podcasts only to annoy the rest of us that would rather they stick to their flair for educating, coaching or inspiring. But some are naturals. The ever ebullient Gary Vaynerchuk is perhaps the most popular of my students because of his candor, comic wit and sarcasm. Just like Robert Scoble’s knack for “off-the-wall” technical discoveries, Vaynerchuk and others have capitalized on their gifts to connect with today’s Millennials.

Others like Dave Kerpen, Jessica Northey, Brian Carter and Lou Mongello seem to have personalities that especially resonate with those needing a dressed down version of the scholarly type mentioned early. Common to all is a personality that attracts fans proud to reveal their lighter side. From Jessica’s roots in country music to Lou’s background with Disney and Dave’s wedding in a ballpark, these social media influencers convince us all that work should never be dull.

Evangelists Thrive on Insightfulness and Inspiration

But there is a reason why Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki and Gretchen Rubin have established arguably the greatest amount of trust with their fans. Evangelists often take the route of “inspire” first and “teach” later.  A typical trail of tweets from Cali Lewis or Sarah Evans for example, will help balance your info-overload with what matters in life just like one webcast from Mari Smith can recharge your day.

Many of the other archetypes attempt this, but typically fall flat. Instead, their sporadic use of inspirational quotes comes off as a ploy to boost their following. Evangelists, on the other hand, have a life story to share that resonates with our own struggles to succeed. 

I suspect that Mitch Joel, Joel Comm, and Beth Kanter also raise the bar in excellence by sharing their life stories. But they do it while weaving in their tips of the day on how to master social media. And unlike the motivator’s route, their twitter streams seem to appeal more to those seeking inspiration from someone they trust. In the process, this trust leads to followers wanting their interpretation on a variety of life matters.

What Makes for a Strong Social Media Influencer

From just exploratory research, it seems that social media influencers follow one of four fairly distinct paths. Granted some will say that Joel Comm can be entertaining, inspiring and educational. But most that follow him will likely credit his success to being a great evangelist. Similarly, few would attribute Gary Vaynerchuk’s success in garnering 1M+ twitter followers to his visionary ideas on where social business is heading. 

Successful social media influencers have obviously mastered the art of mentoring, motivating, analyzing or evangelizing to their audiences. But some have done it more through insightfulness than engagement. This most likely has to do with their introverted or extraverted behavioral styles. Either could work provided they avoid staging an unnatural behavior. 

The same applies to their motives. Many with Klout scores in the 80′s have earned their reputations from educational advice, while others have taken the route to inspire us. But just as I may not want Jay Baer as my lifestyle mentor, I would not want Ann Tran to explain why Jay’s perspective on sideways marketing has merit. 

So as many of us may be discouraged to take the route of a motivator or analytical pundit just to fit in, recognize their are 4 distinct paths to influence. And no one path leads to higher results when evaluated across the top social media influencers. But like strategy development and many other business concepts, it probably makes sense to pick ONE. 

So have  I missed any additional attributes that would separate some of these social media influencers from the crowd? Which of the archetypes do you feel will gain the most traction in years to come?

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