The 10 Best Books for Freelancers about Social Media

Best Social Media Books for FreelancersIt has come to this.

No freelancer today can ignore social media (click here for a definition of social media). In fact, if you find your clients through offline marketing or advertising only, you may find yourself soon left behind by your competitors who use social media.

They’re increasing their exposure, building their authority, engaging with prospects and clients with lightning speed, learning about new niches or markets to explore, and widening their influence.

And your clients probably want you to support their own social media marketing efforts. They want, not just a brochure, but a web page as well. Or aside from logo design, they want website and email branding too

The point is, freelancers need to understand social media–what it is, how it works, and how to use it to promote, not just our own freelancing businesses, but our clients’ businesses as well.

In this post, I’ve compiled ten books on social media, which will help freelancers do exactly that.

None of these books, unfortunately, were written specifically for freelancers. However, if you consider freelancing work as a form of business (which it is!), then it would be easy to translate what these books teach to your freelancing.

I’ve included books that talk about social media in general, as well as a few that focus on specific social networking platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a satisfactory book on Twitter.

Finally, because social media changes so quickly, I’ve included only those books that were published from 2010 onwards. I give you the following reading list in no particular order.

Freelancers’ Social Media Reading List

Here’s the list of books that I recommend:

  1. The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers (3rd edition), by David Meerman Scott. Think of this is a university-level course in marketing and public relations. If you can afford to buy and read only one book, get this one.
  2. The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue, by Shama Kabani. This promises to teach you how to reap the benefits of social media marketing, but without the stress. If you want something simple and step-by-step, then this is it. When you buy the book, you’ll also get access to a website with regular updates, a workbook and other bonus content.
  3. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. Social media is all about content, and this book shows you how to create content–whether text, audio, video or a combination–that your prospects want and will love you for. You can sign for a free chapter of the book on this page.
  4. Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, by Michael Stelzner. Stelzner is the creator of Social Media Examiner, one of the top blogs about social media. In this book, he shares the exact strategies and processes he used to make Social Media Examiner a social media authority and multi-million dollar business. Another plus is the fact that Stelzner was a freelance copywriter himself. Download the first chapter of the book at
  5. Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content, by Colleen Jones. Here’s another take on creating web content. Jones draws on the principles of influence and psychology and applies them to the creation of web content that’s compelling and effective. Read an excerpt from the book at
  6. Return on Engagement: Content, Strategy, and Design Techniques for Digital Marketing, by Tim Frick. This is probably the most “techie” sounding book on this list, and one of the few that addresses the importance of design. Frick begins with strategies and then moves on to execution, a progression that makes perfect sense. Go to to read chapter summaries.
  7. Zarella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas, by Dan Zarrella. If you aren’t familiar yet with Dan Zarrella, he’s all about measuring results. In this book, Zarrella gives the hard facts and real data of social media marketing and warns readers of “unicorns-and-rainbows advice.” One of the best features of social media is how measurable it is, and Zarrella takes advantage of this to reverse-engineer how ideas, brands and products become contagious. You can get the Kindle version of this book for free in
  8. Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks), by Dave Kerpen. As the title suggests, Likeable Social Media is more focused on Facebook. However, the principles in this book apply to other social networks as well. This book goes into the nitty-gritty of engaging online and how to get earn social proof for your product or service.
  9. Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies, by Amy Porterfield, Phyllis Khare and Andrea Vahl. One of the newest kids in town, this book is already getting positive reviews for being comprehensive, practical, and a pleasure to read. Download a free chapter by going to the book’s, what else, Facebook page (click on the “Welcome” tab on the left sidebar).
  10. The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search, by Wayne Breitbarth. Why is an office furniture dealer writing a book about LinkedIn? Because he has used it himself to promote his business, and got so good he’s now consulting with other businesses so they can do it, too. If your prospects are in LinkedIn, you’ll want to check out Breitbarth’s startup and maintenance plans. A free chapter is available at

Where to Go From Here

I realize it’s not realistic to expect any freelancer to have the time to read all the books in this list–not a freelancer who works, anyway! So I suggest two possible ways of attacking this reading list.

The first option is to begin with one of the general social media books, specifically anything from #1 to 7. Any of these books will provide broad strategies you can apply immediately no matter which social networking platform you use.

The other option is to choose one of the platform-specific books from #8 to #10, depending on which social network you want to focus on. For example, if you’ve been wanting to put up a Facebook page, or tweak your existing page, then Facebook Marketing All-in-One makes perfect sense.

Whichever approach you decide to take, the most important thing is to implement what you learn. Take notes as you read, and decide on the next steps you’re going to take. Do those steps and see what results you get. You may get so busy you won’t have time to worry about social media marketing again.

Did I Miss Anything?

Did I miss an excellent social media book you think should be on this list? Or did I include a book you feel is unworthy? I’d also appreciate a recommendation for a book on Twitter marketing. Post them in the comments below.

I’m looking forward to seeing your suggestions in the comments below.

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