Top 25 Social Media Books from an Academic Perspective: #20 Social Marketing to the Business Customer

Continuing our countdown on the top 25 social media books that could qualify for classroom reading, number 20 is Social Marketing to the Business Customer by Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman.

Social Marketing to the Business Customer ranks as top social media book

Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman as authors of top social media book

Gillan and Schwartzman do a great job translating the impact social media strategies have on key account lead generation and B2B relationship building. 

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

  1. The authors provide an easy to digest, but strategically insightful, orientation to the social platforms, tools and technologies required for lead generation, sales nurturing and relationship building. Topics are organized in a “ready-set-go” fashion where sections progress from preparing a social business (ready) to understanding platforms, search and tools (set) to campaigns, conversion and measurement (go). This makes it well aligned with a typical class roll-out. 
  2. The book is written in a language and style suitable to buyers. For example, many flow chart examples are given on the social funnel that makes it easy to conceptualize the lead nurturing process. 
  3. Too many books written by social media evangelists today dwell on platform popularity, storytelling, imagery and other hot topics often at the expense of laying out broad social strategy initiatives across the entire enterprise. This book nails the concepts in the right order of social business development and without sensationalizing topics for the sake of entertaining or inspiring readers. 
  4. Sections on understanding search and choosing specific B2B platforms are especially informative and explained succinctly for students needing to absorb the entire concept in about 12 hours of B2B oriented class time. 
  5. Both authors have extensive experience in the field. This is reflected in their consistent use of relevant cases and best practices for B2B social media.

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

  1. The restriction of topics to B2B covers only about a third of the course requirements for a Social Media Marketing or Content Marketing course.
  2. The concepts are becoming somewhat outdated as a 2011 release. Lacking is a more recent perspective on search algorithms, mobile responsiveness and advocacy strategies. At the tactical level, more could be updated on the current use of marketing automation software and Google+ (e.g., hangouts on air for B2B).  
  3. The ready-set-go approach does take away some of the dialog energy. The first part (Setting the Table) – although very meaningful – provides a great deal of information on policies and social organization development that is meant more for buyers and other practitioners. As a 25 year marketing executive, I love this approach. But from the standpoint of students anxious for hands-on understanding, these dryer subjects at the beginning set a low expectation on course excitement. 
  4. A further drawback of this ready-set-go approach is the challenge for professors to incorporate critical thinking exercises wrapped around each stage of development. i.e., relevant exercises would be highly skewed towards the second half of the book.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended primary reading for MBA/undergraduate in B2B marketing and a supplementary MBA/undergraduate reading for social media marketing or social selling. 

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Social Marketing to the Business Customer 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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