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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