I often get asked what someone should read to learn the basics of social media and understand the consumer behavior driving it. There is certainly no shortage of reading materials but this is what I usually recommend.
Groundswell: Josh Bernoff ‘s and Charlene Li’s excellent assessment of the five year-old social media trend characterized by customers blogging about products, posting their own videos and creating their own communities.
Here Comes Everybody: Clay Shirky’s anthropological assessment of why traditional media is obsolete, how open source software realizes the web’s true collaborative potential, and the power of group action.
Free: Chris Anderson’s somewhat controversial and subsequently modified argument that as storage, processing and bandwidth costs approach zero, a new “free” economy will emerge.
The Chaos Scenario: Bob Garfield’s rant against media, advertising and old-world marketing adds further proof that it’s the consumer, not the brand, which is now in control.
Crowdsourcing: Jeff Howe’s lucid explanation of why customers and consumers want to participate in the creation of everything from content to products and how brands can tap into their energy.
Inbound Marketing: Hubspot’s Brian Halligan coined the term and along with his partner Dharmesh Shah offers up solid basic advice on the tactics needed to generate content and get found online.
Trust Agents: And finally, the personal how to advice from Julien Smith and Chris Brogan. The latter may be the hardest working man in social media, giving away for free most of what he knows and arguing that you should, too.
Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to really understanding social media you’re a lot better off doing it than reading about it.
What do you think? Have I left anything off that’s an absolute must read? What’s on your list?