Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #4 Optimize

Optimize by Lee Odden has been the primary text for NSU’s MKT5855 Social Media Marketing course for 2 years. The 5-star book blends SEO-integrated content marketing tactics with a technical framework for implementing enterprise-wide strategies that place the customer first. 

Optimize ranks as top social media book

Lee Odden as author of top social media book

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

  1. This is one of few social content marketing books that is built around an SEO discipline. Especially at a time when content marketers  are racing to tell their brand stories or capitalize on big data for real-time context, marketers have slowly begun to abandon the art of and discipline behind SEO. Throughout his book, Lee treats social media, content marketing and search as an integrated exercise to be practiced in the research, content creation and content distribution phases of buyer courtship.
  2. As a top 25 social media influencer and blog traffic in the top 0.003% of registered websites, Lee can walk the talk of his recommendations. 
  3. The book  is craftily organized along the lines of a marketing plan while introducing social/search tools as the planning topics are discussed. This keeps the readers attention on a “build-as-you-go” content creation strategy without drifting off into dry topics of tools and tactics. The marketing plan structure includes early discussion of objectives, audience and audits. Following this situation analysis, the topics progress through a typical content marketing framework (e.g., content creation, promotion and socializing). It culminates in measurement, process and training. This lines up perfectly with typical marketing curricula. 
  4. Now in its third year, the book is amazingly current. Lee’s exceptional technical understanding, especially in SEO, is still relevant to much of today’s Hummingbird and Panda updates.
  5. But more than just technical recommendations, Optimize is written for the experienced marketer struggling with putting the pieces together of a complex content marketing exercise. This includes detailed explanations of how to apply research behind buyer personas, their pain points and their buying stages to their content needs and social/search behaviors. 
  6. Each chapter ends in a series of summaries and critical thinking exercises. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher on the list of top 25 books is the following:

  1. Because of its technical nature, the book lacks the high energy of books by Jay Baer, Gary Vaynerchuk and Matt Collier. But professors will likely appreciate Lee’s organized structure and thoroughness over alternative entertaining styles. 
  2. Although very well sequenced, topics are not well aligned to the learning outcomes proposed in many MBA marketing curricula. The concept itself, optimization, fits more of a practitioner’s formula for success. In academia, however, professors are struggling with the mere inclusion of SEO, content and social in their learning objectives. Lee does cover this well in his first few chapters, but skill-based learning outcomes are more readily mapped when they align well with each chapter. 

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Highly recommended primary reading for an MBA courses in social media marketing and related topics. 

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Optimize 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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