Developing your voice in social media: Three recommended books

Does your organization have a soul, a personality, a culture? Is it one people love engaging with? If so, does that personality translate into your online presence and motivate others to promote what you do?

These are questions I often wrestled with when I was working at nonprofit organizations. "Having a personality" or "being authentic" online isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when you have lawyers and traditional PR executives watching your every move. Three books have really helped me with the concept, though, so I thought I'd pass them along. All three are relatively quick and enjoyable reads with concrete case studies you can use to implement your own social media plan within your organization.

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
Rather than getting bogged down with the technology side of social media and marketing, Brogan and Smith eloquently lay out how marketers (and, really, everyone) should behave in the brave new world of social networking.

*Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava
This book isn't about social media specifically, but like Trust Agents it focuses on how to be real in today's marketing landscape, but with the added twist of learning how to stand out from the crowd. I especially liked the how-to chapter that helps you navigate the challenges surrounding being authentic and real, from lawyers to old-fashioned PR executives.

The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt
The idea of "social capital" isn't new - anyone who's read How to Win Friends and Influence People knows that - but Tara Hunt reminds us of the everyday lessons it's easy to forget when interacting in a virtual space. There are things people need and want, and finding out how you can be nice and useful to others and make them feel good will help you reap rewards later.

Which books have helped you improve your social media work?