Social Media Strategist


Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

Required Reading for Social Media Managers


Your Summer Social Media Reading List

by Jon-Stephen Stansel

As social media changes and evolves on an almost daily basis, any book written on the topic is destined to be woefully outdated the moment it finally makes it into print. However, some concepts are evergreen and the following books have greatly influenced me and helped me to become a better social media manager. While these are just a few of the books on my social media bookshelf, these are a few that I continually return to. In fact, I've read every book on this list multiple times and picked up something new with each reading.


“Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday

Written long before the phrase “fake news” became commonplace. This book delves into the dark side with tales of media manipulation and social media trickery. Holiday comes clean on some of his old misdeeds and sounds the warning bell that many of these shady practices have become common place. This book is to be taken as a cautionary tale and not a “how-to guide.” Reading this book will leave you with a greater understanding of how social media can be reshaped and manipulated and help you identify when these practices are being used.

I also recommend Holiday’s other books including, “The Obstacle is the Way” and “Ego is the Enemy.” A prolific reader himself, Mr. Holiday has a monthly email of recommend reading. I've found countless great reads from this list and I probably owe Mr. Holiday a TopoChico should I ever run into him.

“So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson’s books are always insightful and a delight to read. In this book, Ronson explores how public shaming has gone from the days of the stockade and scarlet letter and moved into the 21st century with angry mobs on Twitter ready to call for the head of someone at a moment’s notice for making a distasteful joke. Ronson shares several instances of public shaming, how the story evolved and how it affected the life of the victim. This book will not only provide warnings on how to avoid the sort of social media crisis that could ruin your career, it will temper your social media outrage and make you think twice before hitting send on that angry Tweet. 

“QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground” by Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer

I actually recommend every book by Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer as well as their incredible podcast, “The UnPodcast.” But “QR Codes Kill Kittens” is the one that got me hooked on their work. It is filled with examples of what not to do. From social media fails, to poor use of technology, and terrible customer service, this book will make you ask “What the heck was that company thinking?”

“Hatching Twitter” by Nick Bilton

Understanding how Twitter was created, its early days and philosophy can provide some insight into the future of the company and offer insight into some of the company’s decisions. This book lays out the evolution of the company, the personalities of its creators and the rise of the platform. While it might not influence your strategy on the platform, it will definitely increase your understanding of it.

For an insider’s perspective on the creation of Twitter, check out Biz Stone’s “Things a Little Bird Told Me.

Work Clean: The Life-Changing Power of Mise-En-Place to Organize Your Life, Work, and Mind by Dan Charnas

I've talked about how the concept of mise-en-place improved how I work in an early blog post. In this book, Dan Charnas describes the culinary concept of mise-en-place, the way chef's organize their workstations, prepare for the day, and maximize their efficiency, and details how the concept can work outside of the kitchen. As a social media manager this book is exceptional useful, as by its nature, social media is full of distractions. By using mise-en-place and learning how to work clean, you can minimize the constant distractions and work more effectively and focus on the tasks at hand.

These are just a few of the books that have influenced me and my social media career. It is always important for a social media manager to stay on top of the industry and be on the look out for new thoughts and ideas. What books do you recommend?