At the same time we've seen the rise of the social media "expert," we've seen a proliferation of books on the topic. From a business perspective, it's not surprising: it's a hot topic; everyone is trying to make sense of it; and people will cash in while they have the chance. But someone new to this space needs to be aware of who's the true leader and who is the charlatan.
Calling oneself an expert does not an expert make;
that label is usually granted by peers who recognize talent.
A good place to start as you try to figure this stuff out is to see who's following whom. While the social media space tends to be filled with a lot of people who are reciprocal in their follows, you can easily see who some of the stand-outs are. Check the blogrolls (links to other blogs) that are recommended by your favorite bloggers. See who pops as a thought leader. See who resonates with you.
Another way is to see how many of them have written a book. There's a great list of the Top 100 Best Social Media Books Ever (well at least as of the writing of that particular blog post) that I can recommend. But again, that's quite a list. And some of the newer books don't appear on it.
Here are six of the latest titles by people whom I respect, with links to their blogs:
Chris Brogan, Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. Chris is a prolific writer, cranking out multiple posts a day, all while running New Media Labs and tweeting until his fingers are raw. There's a lot of common sense in his work. And his book is all about trust. I trust Chris and can recommend his work highly.
Shel Israel, Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods. Shel has been in the communications field for a long time. But his insights are as fresh as ever. He co-authored Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble and his latest book is all about Twitter. Fair warning: it's longer than 140 characters.
Mitch Joel, Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. Mitch is a super smart guy who has been chronicling the development of the online vs. offline world for quite some time. His blog and podcast are always thoughtful and inspirational. And he's one of the four bald guys who seem to haunt the new marketing world, yet whom we never see all in one place at one time. Weird, I know.
David Meerman Scott, World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories. David is probably one of the best public speakers I know. But his talents don't stop at the spoken word. He clearly demonstrates his ideas with case studies - and ones that aren't expected. After reading his stuff, you'll rave too.
Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. If you don't know Seth Godin, you should. Or perhaps I should say, you will. He has rocketed every one of his books to the top of the charts in creative and innovative ways. His blog is filled with observations about Marketing and marketing - by that I mean the craft as well as daily thoughts about how companies and individuals can differentiate themselves. And yes, he's one of those bald guys.
Gary Vaynerchuk, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion. Say it with me: VAY-ner-chuk! Gary is a force of nature. Host of the amazing Wine Library TV, Gary has amassed a mini empire on his way to eventually owning the New York Jets. His keynotes and speeches are filled with the fire that comes straight from his belly, and his book will no doubt inspire the same level of commitment that his appearances do.
If anything, the takeaway from these authors is: if you want
a successful book, make sure you've got a colon in the title. ;-)
Feel free to click around and check out their writing in whichever format appeals to you. And pass along those that resonate with you. Share them with you coworkers, your boss, your friends. Have you got other reading recommendations? I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Photo credit: Patrick Gage (Flickr)