Must-Read Books on Social Media


Taking a hint by Chris Brogan, who has compiled a great set of resources to show your bosses, colleagues or friends how the social web works, I’d like to give you my recommendations of must-read books on this topic.

If you are interested in social media, participatory media or conversational marketing, you might want to have a closer look at those book. They are both a good introduction, and a great resource and inspiration. In this installment, I’ll focus on books. Studies, weblogs and videos will follow at some point.

I keep coming back to these book, I always have them close to my desk for quick reference. If you plan on reading just a few books about social media, blogging and digital conversations, I recommend you read these:

(Left-hand are the links to, right-hand to for the German folks. Where possible, the right-hand side links are the German translations. I’m based in Berlin, after all.)

The Cluetrain Manifesto (David Weinberger 1999) This one started it all, the whole conversation thing. Not just a must-read, but also good fun to read.

The Long Tail (Chris Anderson 2006) Forget about the mass market, the niches is where the music is. This book tells you why. Mind-boggling, genius.

Naked Conversations (Robert Scoble, Shel Israel 2006) In this instant classic, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel introduce us to the art of the naked (i.e. uncensored) conversation. You’d like to help your company to give up control and to start embracing the chaos? Here you go.

We The Media (Dan Gillmor, 2004) We The Media is one of the key readings to the whole field of participatory media and citizen journalism. It’s sometimes hard to decide if it’s a hands-on guide, a white paper or a manifesto, but it always engages the reader and gives a radical new perspective on how the media work, could work, should work.

Also, there’s a few books available in German only which I’d like to highlight:

Die Neuen Meinungsmacher (Ansgar Zerfaß, Dietrich Boelter 2005) Good introduction into why weblogs are relevant to campaigns, public relations etc, and a quick read, too.

Kopfjäger im Internet oder publizistische Avantgarde? (Matthias Armborst 2006) This one is relevant mostly for journalists, as it explains what they need to know about bloggers and how they work. To some degree, this book is what I built my masters thesis on, and I keep coming back to it. Special interest, admittedly, but great.

Weblogs. Eine kommunikationssoziologische Studie (Jan Schmidt 2006) Just as the book above, this one is rather academic. However, if you need to know in-depth about how weblogs work, and how they are used, this is your book.