10 Social Media Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of social media books out there.  So how is a many-hat-wearing business owner supposed to know which ones to read?   Here is a list of the 10 social media books that small business owners can read to get the most bang for their social media investment of time and money.

About the List

Putting together this list was challenging because there are so many wonderful books to choose from.  Ultimately it came down to creating a mix of books that was targeted to small business owners and that will help us build our brands  and grow our businesses.  These books run the gamut from those that strive to give you an overview and strategic context for the social media trend — to more detailed how-to books that will help you apply social media in your everyday marketing tactics.

Overall, the intention of this list is to provide a spectrum of information that will leave you feeling better, smarter and faster when it comes to social media.

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

GroundswellWhenever a CEO or small business owner comes to me and says “I’m not sure I understand the business value of social media,”  I tell them to read this book first.  Groundswell is written by a team of researchers from Forrester Research.  These people have done more research on social media for this book (and continue to empirically study social media and document it) than you or I will do in a lifetime.

Because this book was written in 2008 when social media was still “new” to even the professionals, it explains social media in a way that all of us can understand and relate to.  Groundswell will give you a framework and a context within which to place new learning.  It is well written, easy to read and full of research data that you can trust.

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick

If you’re a business history buff who enjoyed the “Pirates of Silicon Valley” movie about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – then you will also enjoy The Facebook Effect.  It was written by a journalist who has interwoven his interviews with Mark Zuckerberg and the key players who turned a school hobby/project into the realization of Zuckerberg’s vision to change the world by connecting people.

This isn’t necessarily a book about how to use social media, but it will take you behind the scenes of several social networking sites and how they succeeded and failed.  It’s great business reading in general.

The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media by Paul Chaney

Digital HandshakeIf you’re fed up because the time and money you’ve already invested in traditional marketing like advertising or direct mail isn’t paying off, or you’re frustrated because you see the world of marketing changing and you’re not sure how to maximize the technology for business objectives, then this book is for you.

While it won’t show you detailed nuts and bolts of how to start a blog or how to use Twitter, it will help you to start plotting your next move.

The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success by Lon Safko and David K. Brake

Social Media Bible When a book has the word “Bible” attached to the subject and in the title, you automatically assume that it has everything you’ll need to get through life as it concerns that topic.  And that’s exactly what you’ll find here.

This book covers some history and background, as well as tools and strategies that you can use to grow your business with social media.

The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web by Tamar Weinberg

The New Community RulesLet’s say you are now “sold” on the idea that using social media as part of your marketing strategy is probably a good thing.  Yet, despite all the books out there, you’re still not sure exactly what to do or where to do it or how to do it – beyond establishing a basic profile or a presence.  

The New Community Rules is your next step.  This book will give you the specifics you’re looking for.  It covers a number of niche social sites you may not be as familiar with, and includes short success case studies.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media, But Were Afraid to Ask… by Hilary JM Topper MPA

Everything You Wanted to Know About Social MediaThere is something very appealing about a short, pocket-sized book with the title “Everything you ever wanted to know.”  This book gives you short, succinct descriptions and tips on many of the most useful social media applications.

Newbies will love its short, easy-to-grasp style; intermediates will find applications they may not have thought of using before; and advanced users will find a few gems and recommend it to their friends who are just starting out.

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Trust AgentsBy now you’ve noticed that the social media revolution requires a new and different way of thinking.  This makes Trust Agents the perfect book to read next.  It’s written by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith and endorsed by Seth Godin — all trusted marketing minds whose work has stood the test of time.

This is an easy read and will get you squarely in the social media mind-set.  One warning: You may not agree with what you read.  You may not like it.  But understand this:  It’s how the technology is impacting people and small business.  Embrace it.

Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by Adam L. Penenberg

You’re almost a pro now (after reading the 7 books above)!

Have you ever wondered what it is about some concepts, ideas or applications that makes them go viral?  Viral Loop has the answer.

This is another business history book that proves that viral marketing has been with us for ages and not just since the advent of the “Forward” button on our e-mail.

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk

Crush ItThe key to really making a social media strategy work is passion and authenticity.  If you’re wondering how you can harness your passion for your business to hit the big time using social media, “Crush it!” will be a fun read for you.

This book will help you understand that in order to be successful, you have to look at everything in your business as potential content.  It’s a case study of a traditional wine business and its transformation into a modern, social media marketing driven enterprise whose CEO used his passion for unpretentious-ness as an asset.

Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier by Michael Fertik  and David Thompson

Wild West 2.0Perhaps the best reason (and one not often talked about) to get your business actively using social media is reputation management. The question every small business owner needs to ask him- or herself is, “Do I want to manage my online reputation or do I want to leave it to chance?”

This book will show you how reputations are created, controlled and managed.

* * * * *

So there you have it — a mix of social media books that every small business owner should have on the shelf. If you’re wondering what social media strategies and tactics you should put in your marketing plan this year, you’re guaranteed to find them here.


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

25 Reactions
  1. Shashi Bellamkonda

    Great list . I would add Liana Evans Social Media Marketing Strategies http://amzn.to/9F4KvX and Twitterville by Shel Israel.

  2. Thanks for those suggestions – keep them coming. It was hard to keep the list down to 10!

  3. Ivana,

    Great list. I have read four books (Groundswell, The New Community Rules, Trust Agents and Crush It).

    I would add Amber Mac’s Power Friending and Ron Ploof’s Read This First.

  4. Great List. I had a chance to read 3, and have met the authors here in Altanta. Several are on my new to-do list. Good job with this.

  5. What an awesome list, Ivana. Thank you. And I hadn’t heard of Ron Ploof’s book, Martin. Will check it out.

  6. Great list. I’ve read some, but not all. Here are two other must haves, in my opinion. John Jantsch’s, The Referral Engine and Halligan and Shah’s Inbound Marketing.

  7. The list is great with several very valuable books. However, two really great books not on the list are Socialnomics by Erik Qualman and Engage! by Brian Solis. Personally, I feel both complement each other so well. Socialnomics tells us why, and Engage! tells us how.

  8. Great list – so glad you started it with Groundswell. In fact, if you read one book on the list, that’s the one…

  9. Paul, thank you. That’s exactly what small businesses need today…the “why” and the “how.”


  10. Hey! Great Blog! Thanx for the include! The second edition comes out September 13th! I think it’s even better! Thank you again!
    – Lon Safko, author The Social Media Bible

  11. Karlene Sinclair-Robinson

    Ivana, this is a great list! Thanks for putting it together. I continue to encourage small business owners to consider Social Media as part of their marketing plan. Thanks again!

  12. Thanks for the recommendation, Martin! It’s humbling to be listed with such other great books and authors.

  13. I thought of getting The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success by Lon Safko and David K. Brake but decided not to because i am not to sure of what i am going to get with that kind of title.
    Thanks for the recommendation,i’ll try to check on the other books too.

  14. Engage by brian solis is a must read as well!

  15. I would also include Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel.

  16. Awesome list many thanks.

    Maybe the Social Media bible is one for me.



  1. Pingback:

    Small Business News: The Real Key To Economic Recovery

  2. Pingback:

    70 Helpful Resources To Help You Understand Social Media | Brand-Yourself.com Blog

  3. Pingback:

    70 Helpful Resources To Help You Understand Social Media | Brand-Yourself.com Blog « ANDYWERGEDAL

  4. Pingback:

    Social Marketing to the Business Customer

  5. Pingback:

    The Two Things You Need to be Successful When Using Social Media | Social Media Strategery

  6. Pingback:

    How’s the Digital Health of Your CrossFit Affiliate? | Compete For Your Affiliates I Fit Web Design, Social Media, Creative, & Marketing for a Fit Community

  7. Pingback: Killer Creatives » Killer Entrepreneurs

  8. Pingback:

    It's Saturday. Google Places, Books and Despised People - Divorce Discourse

  9. Pingback:

    The Books Business Owners Should Be Reading -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What 2020 Trends Did You Participate In?

Did you adopt a pet or participate in a virtual happy hour?
Or did you binge on Tiger King and learn to cut hair?

Tell us!
No, Thank You