The Best New Books on Social Marketing


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My good friend and fellow CustomerThink guru, Paul Greenberg, posted about a new social marketing book over at his blog, PGreenblog. The book, The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media by Paul Gillin gets a great write-up. Based upon my knowing Paul well enough to take his recommendations seriously, I went and bought it immediately from Amazon.

Paul’s recommendation set me thinking. Who else has written a great book on the new but rapidly growing topic of marketing through social networks, or ‘social marketing’ to give it a snappier name.

For this review, I have ignored books on ‘word of mouth marketing’, not because WOM is irrelevant, far from it, but because far too many talk about manipulative methods for promoting word of mouth, rather than what makes for great word of mouth, how social marketing works and how you harness its energy to promote your own great products.

So what’s on the list of the best new books on social marketing.

Communities Dominate Brands by Tomi Ahonen and Alan Moore

This book, by the two practitioners who know mobile social marketing better than anyone else, is a must read. When I first started to look at using social network analysis as a foundation for mobile telecoms, this was practically the only book available on the subject. It is still one of the best. The authors also have an iconoclastic blog that is worth taking a look at too.

Marketing to the Social Web by Larry Weber

This is a new book that looks at the role that digital communities play in modern marketing. The book starts off looking at the dynamics of the social web, shows you how to build communities and how to leverage the communities for social marketing.

Smart Start-ups by David Silver

Contrary to the title, this book is about how entrepreneurs and corporations can profit by starting online communities. Although aimed at start-ups, the book provides a simple step-by-step approach to setting up a community-based business. Its lessons apply just as much to corporations looking to start up a community as they do to community-based start-ups proper.

Connected Marketing edited by Justin Kirkby and Paul Marsden

This book is a collection of chapters written by a number of people active in social marketing research and practice. It first came to my attention as a result of the influential paper written by Paul Marsden on Advocacy Drives Growth.

Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell & Jackie Huba

Ben and Jackie are almost a legend. It all started with their now famous Church of the Customer blog and an earlier book about Creating Customer Evangelists. They have been in the thick of social marketing from the beginning and continue to do so today. This book is an absolute must read.

Cool Hunting by Peter Gloor & Scott Cooper

This book is a bit different from the others. It concentrates on spotting the ‘next big thing’ through social networks as much as it does on social marketing itself. It is the only book that I have seen to-date that is based upon a solid understanding of ‘swarm’ behaviour in communities. Peter Gloor also has an interesting blog that extends his thoughts further.

Age of Conversation edited by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton

Last but not least, the latest book on ‘conversational marketing’. This book consists of 104 chapters, each one page long, written by a veritable Who’s Who of social marketing bloggers, practitioners and experts. I’m not saying that because I wrote one of the chapters (on ‘Valueing Conversations’), but because the authors’ blogs are the ones I read to keep up to date with the latest on social marketing. The book also has an interesting blog that continues the conversation now that the book has been published.

Seven of the best in an exciting new field in marketing. What more could you wish for during those long summer holidays?

What do you think? Is social marketing going to become a permanent feature for marketers? Or it just an over-hyped fad that will quickly fade?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. Social marketing is the new version of word of mouth of our grand-parents. So in a way it will eventually be crucial to any strategy. But where are we on social marketing metrics ?

  2. Xavier

    Thans for your comment. It is much appreciated.

    Whilst Social Network Analysis is not new, its use in business. Interest in usable social network metrics has grown with SNA’s adoption by business.

    Perhaps the best source of basic social network metrics can be found at Valdis Krebs’ website. Valdis is one of the founding fathers of SNA.

    Having defined basic measures of a social network, Valdis takes this a little further with a look at the changing dynamics of a social network in a recent post on his Network Weaving blog.

    If you really want to get stuck into social network metrics, you will need to read SNA books and research papers. Take a look at Duncan Watts’ Collective Dynamics Group website for dozens of papers on social networks and their measurement.

    Let me know if you want more details.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager


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