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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