Social media presence is non-negotiable for many businesses given the vast audience and unparalleled opportunities for brand visibility and customer engagement. But the social media landscape is ever-changing, with new platforms, algorithms, and influencer marketing techniques constantly redefining the rules of engagement. Adapting to these changes is crucial for social media managers and business leaders.
Social media marketing books can guide you through this complexity. They lay the groundwork for crafting a solid media marketing strategy, building a loyal community, and finding social media success—whether you’re focused on crafting organic marketing content for Instagram or testing TikTok ads.
Here are 12 essential social media marketing books and some tried-and-true best practices to catalyze your social audience growth.
12 essential social media marketing books
- One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by Brendan Kane
- TikTok Boom: China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media by Chris Stokel-Walker
- The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media by Emily Hund
- Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland
- Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- The Rise of Virtual Communities: In Conversation with Virtual World Pioneers by Amber Atherton
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
- Everybody Writes: Your New and Improved Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
- The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
- Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses by Nancy Harhut
- Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan
There’s a range of invaluable resources available for marketers looking to scale their online presence—from comprehensive books that explore overarching social media strategies to specialized volumes focusing on individual social media platforms. Check out a dozen popular options, covering a range of topics:
1.One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by Brendan Kane
In One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days, Brendan Kane shares his data-driven techniques for rapidly growing a social media following. Drawing on experience working with big names like Taylor Swift and Rihanna, Kane offers actionable insights businesses can use to enhance their online reach across social media channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. The book explores the intricacies of algorithms and engagement, providing businesses with a roadmap to cultivate an active online community within their digital marketing strategy.
Key quote: “When one person shares your message, your exposure and range grow exponentially—it eventually reaches hundreds of their friends and can potentially reach their friends’ friends as well. The velocity at which you get people to share your content dictates the success of your organic growth.”
2. TikTok Boom: China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media by Chris Stokel-Walker
This comprehensive book is a critical resource for social media marketers—and anyone for that matter—looking to understand the rise of TikTok. TikTok Boom: China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media is not a how-to social media guide but a journalistic deep-dive into TikTok’s growth and influence. The book explores the app’s unique algorithm, the unpredictable nature of viral success, and broader debates on data security, offering foundational knowledge for those aiming to engage with TikTok effectively.
Key quote: “It is clear that the sands are shifting in the online video world, and what was once firmly within YouTube’s control is suddenly up for grabs.”
3. The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media by Emily Hund
In The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media, Emily Hund traces the industry’s evolution from a group of creative individuals to a complex, multibillion-dollar ecosystem. For marketers, the book highlights the ever-shifting landscape of digital influence, emphasizing the importance of continuously crafting strategies that resonate with shifting definitions of authenticity.
Key quote: “The influencer industry’s core business is continually reassessing, redefining, and revaluing authenticity. Authenticity is the quality that makes one person more influential than another, even if they have similar metrics. A sense of authenticity sells products.”
4. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland
In Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life, advertising legend Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy, explores the irrational aspects of consumer behavior. Using decades of experience and diverse case studies, Sutherland argues for mastering “psycho-logic” over traditional logic to create compelling products and ideas. This is an essential read for social media marketers and business leaders who want a nuanced understanding of what truly drives consumer engagement.
Key quote: “For a business to be truly customer-focused, it needs to ignore what people say. Instead it needs to concentrate on what people feel.”
5. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
In Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, Donald Miller provides a seven-part framework for clarifying your brand’s message. Miller emphasizes that customer engagement and revenue increase when a company’s message resonates with customer concerns and needs. His approach aims to help you cut through the noise and effectively connect with your audience.
Key quote: “Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand. This is the secret every phenomenally successful business understands.”
6. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries and Jack Trout
In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!, Al Ries and Jack Trout outline foundational rules that govern effective marketing. Initially published in 1994, the book remains a classic, with evergreen principles applicable to today’s social platforms—from Threads to Bluesky. It emphasizes the importance of adhering to marketing laws, such as the Law of Hype and the Law of Acceleration, to avoid costly mistakes and find business success.
Key quote: “Marketing is often a search for the obvious. Since you can’t change a mind once it’s made up, your marketing efforts have to be devoted to using ideas and concepts already installed in the brain. You have to use your marketing programs to ‘rub it in.’”
7. The Rise of Virtual Communities: In Conversation with Virtual World Pioneers by Amber Atherton
In The Rise of Virtual Communities: In Conversation with Virtual World Pioneers, Amber Atherton leverages her experience co-founding Zyper to explore the intricacies of community building. The book features extended interviews with community-building pioneers like Philip Rosedale of Second Life and Alexis Ohanian of Reddit. You’ll learn about essential frameworks such as the “community quadrant” and “community funnel,” valuable guides for building community online.
Key quote: “When it comes to community building, it’s your job to spark the fire. But you can’t keep it burning alone. The key to a thriving community is members who care enough to take initiative—they pose thoughtful questions to the group, introduce new topics to explore, and sometimes even plan events, online or offline, to help people bond.”
8. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
In Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger examines why some ideas, products, and behaviors gain popularity while others fail. Combining insights from marketing, psychology, and social influence, he outlines six principles—acronym STEPPS—necessary for achieving contagiousness. These principles, from social currency to storytelling, offer a blueprint for anyone looking to make their content go viral.
Key quote: “People share more than 16,000 words per day and every hour there are more than 100 million conversations about brands. But word of mouth is not just frequent, it’s also important. The things others tell us, email us, and text us have a significant impact on what we think, read, buy, and do.”
9. Everybody Writes: Your New and Improved Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
In its updated second edition, Everybody Writes by Ann Handley offers fresh insights for navigating the complex landscape of digital marketing and storytelling, particularly in the web3-ChatGPT-short-form-TikTok era. The book features a special chapter on writing for social media, underscoring that social media is not just about images and memes. Ann’s actionable strategies make it an invaluable resource for marketers aiming to strengthen their social media storytelling and engage more effectively with their audience.
Key quote: “In an era of content superabundance, how we use our words matters. How we craft our communications, tell our stories, create or co-create customer experiences. We need to place a high value on an overlooked skill in marketing: how to write (with style, flair, true emotion). And how to tell a true story well.”
10. The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick serves as a robust social media marketing workbook tailored for both brands crafting a corporate presence and individuals building a personal brand. Though it was published in 2014 and features outdated platforms—like Google+ and Klout—the book’s 123 tips include evergreen principles for optimizing profiles, creating compelling posts, and responding effectively to comments.
Key quote: “Sharing posts gets your content creation and curation out to the world. At its foundation, social media is simple: if you share good stuff, people will reshare it, and you’ll get more interaction and more followers. Everything else is optimization (or delusion).”
11. Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses by Nancy Harhut
Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses by Nancy Harhut provides step-by-step tactics to harness consumer behavior in marketing. The book is practical and accessible, focusing on key marketing channels such as email, ads, direct mail, web copy, TV, print, and social media. Using case studies from AT&T, Apple, Spotify, and The Wall Street Journal, Nancy reveals how to prompt automatic consumer responses for increased engagement and loyalty.
Key quote: “Include both rational and emotional elements in your marketing, whether your target audience is B2C or B2B. Omitting either can result in a lost sale. Provide the practical details that can cement the purchase, but lead with how people will feel when they experience your product.”
12. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan
The sixth edition of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan is a classic guide to advertising, updated for today’s digital era. It covers traditional and emerging strategies essential for advertising across platforms like Instagram and Facebook. With a section devoted to mastering good social media practices and social media campaign examples, this book is an indispensable resource for anyone in social media management.
Key quote: “Remember, these platforms, at their core, are social networks. Technology dials can be fun to twist, but it’s people who subscribe to the content, comment on it publicly, and interact with others. Remember: whatever you make, it must be useful, entertaining, or amazing.”
Social media marketing books FAQ
What is a good book on social media marketing?
It depends on your goals and focus. One Million Followers by Brendan Kane offers strategies for rapid audience growth, for example, while Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller focuses on effective messaging.
What is the most-used social media platform?
Facebook is the most-used platform in the social media world, with more than 2.9 billion monthly active users as of 2023.
What is the most profitable social media platform?
Your brand’s most profitable social media platform depends on your specific social media strategy and business. Identify where your target audience spends their time, and tailor your social media efforts and marketing campaigns to resonate on that platform for maximum ROI.