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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