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I was asked by Ulrika Ingemarsdotter what books hard working communication professional ought to read to grasp as much as possible about social media. Beeing a bookie-guy I really enjoyed the question and here comes my ten cents on the subject. When writing this post I realize that Amazon.com is really WORKING! Try searching for Cluetrain and you´ll see what I mean…

1. Cluetrain Manifesto. It´s THE book. I put it first in the list even though it´s not very practically oriented. It was originally published as a webpage. When it went a success they also published it on dead wood so we all can read it in the bath tub without risc of beeing electricuted. From four slightly different perspectives the authors explains what happens when the market conversations are back again after have been quite silent during the industrial age – and now on a much larger scale thanks to the Internet. I personally believe this book to be one of the most important books ever written about society and business. It´s not a very hands on book, but it will give you a deep understanding of WHY and WITH WHAT EFFECT social media are changing the business rules. The book came out 2001.

2. Groundswell. Two Forrester Research guys manages to mix both strategy and implementation in one book with lots of good case examples on how companies has had success using social media. If you want to look smart in front of your boss when holding a presentation about social media – rip the Social Technographics Ladder model from page 43 and EVERYONE in the room will intuitively place themselves and others somewhere on the scale and get the point. When I saw that (recently) I immediately understood why I haven´t managed to come across to a lot of audiences I´ve spoken to about social media. Brilliant!

3. Everything is Miscellaneous. OK, NOW we´re getting a bit philosophical. This is a book for strategists on a high level. If you´re not – the two books above will do. The book is written by David Weinberger who is one of the Cluetrain guys and is in my eyes the Public Opinion of the 21:st century. The main idea is that the way we organize information forms our way of thinking about the world. It used to be by putting knowledge on paper and that made us think in hierarchical ways about the world. The web now makes us organize our knowledge with links and tags instead. That makes us think in a much more flexible way about the world which in turns is a blast to most of the ways of living that we´ve created during civilazation as we know it. It´s pretty deep shit, really. But it´s also GREAT reading if you´re interested in what´s about to happen in media when SEARCHING for content beats WAITING for it (news papers, TV, Radio etc). When it´s all about context (it is), your social relations, your psychological make-up and the creativity people use when tagging information is more important than what newspaper you read, where you live or what income you have. Published 2008.

4. Netocracy. Most of us haven´t got the time to read Manuel Castell´s mega work. I suggest you instead read Alexander Bard´s and Jan Söderqvists book about how Internet changes the fundamental power structures in society. It´s about how well networked, creative and fast moving individuals and groups with amazing speed can have a large impact in business and politics. And how it works for you to copy. It won´t help you install a blog or get an account somewhere, but it WILL help you wanting to do it, especially in these days of looming financial crisis. From 2002.

This list wouldn´t be complete unless I added a few books NOT to read if you have little time and much to do. They´re all great books, by the way.

The Long Tail. If something is digital it can be produced, distributed and payed for in the web. That opens up HUGE markets. If only part of it is digital (the marketing or the payment) it opens up the market, but not to such a HUGE extent. So go digital, young man!

The Black Swan. Social Media and the Internet is unleashing the creativity of millions of people right now. That creates more competition for everyone. And more inspiration. There are two ways of beeing creative. Either you IMPROVE within the existing model of thought or you DISRUPT the existing model of thought. There´s more money in the latter. And more fun!

The Selfish Gene. The main question in a world where peoples attention is worth more than gold is what motivates people. Richard Dawkins reminds us that we´re first and foremost animals even if we can spell out the two words Post Modernism. The conclusion is that the Kabbhalists, Darwin, Maslow, Freud and the rest of the sex-food-shelter first guys have been right all along. What fascinates me is that it seems like capitalism has made enormous amounts of people to go beyond those motivations and get into self-actualization. Social Media and consumtion helps us construct our IDENTITIES and experience MEANING in our lives. Dawkin´s reminds us about the order of those motivations and helps you understand where science has actually brought us when it comes to what it means to be human. Not a bad piece of work, I have to say.

Enjoy your reading and please tell me why I´m right or wrong.