Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #14 Inbound Marketing

For social media marketing courses aimed at lead generation and nurturing, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah offer a complete primer on the subject. Their Inbound Marketing book provides a cradle-to-grave formula for applying social channels, SEO and content marketing as a substitute for outdated outbound marketing techniques.  

Inbound Marketing ranks as top social media book

Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah as authors of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a primary reading for select undergraduate level courses focused on lead nurturing. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. As pioneers in the field, the authors provide a convincing argument why marketing should be taught using non-interrupting, permissive approaches to trust building. Especially at a time when scholars and practitioners are bombarded with complex optimization strategies, brand storytelling trends, ever changing mobile marketing strategies and costly engagement tactics, this book serves as a refresher as to why we got here in the first place. Concepts like building remarkable content, using your website as a marketing hub, designing effective landing pages and strategic placing the right calls to action are often lost in today’s overcrowded library of content marketing books.  
  2. The book is well organized to fit a funnel strategy especially useful for sales personnel. Early chapters deal with getting found by prospects through quality content, social media and legitimate SEO tactics. Subsequent chapters take readers through the sales conversion process while updating us on visual content and software tools. Most books take the opposite approach, thereby making the case for revenue generation rather weak. This book’s focus on attracting, tracking and building trust at the right stage in a buyer’s decision cycle is a far better approach to convincing skeptical social media adopters that inbound marketing produces results.
  3. As experienced marketing automation providers, Halligan and Shah offer credible and proven examples of tracking and advancing prospects through the sales funnel. 
  4. The book is one of few oriented to entrepreneurs seeking start-up adoption of inbound marketing. 

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

  1. The book serves more as a primer or tutorial than a critical thinking framework for MBA students to digest. Chocked full of social business and start-up tips, it leaves a professor with the task of challenging students to be resourceful in their own strategic decision making. In other words, the book is more of a prescription for success than a foundation for strategic skill building. Consequently, many MBA learning outcomes will not be achieved under a curriculum modelled after this book. 
  2. The book requires at least a supplement to cover many of the brand behavioral aspects of social media and content marketing. As it stands, it covers more of the marketing automation aspects of inbound marketing. Subjects like mobile context marketing, influence, advocacy or using content for brand lift would have to dovetail one of the funnel stage discussions or be treated totally separate from the book’s intended scope.  

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended primary reading for an undergraduate courses in social selling or social media for lead generation and nurturing.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Inbound Marketing 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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