We intuitively know that building, engaging, and retaining a community takes talented community builders focusing on relationships. But it’s not exactly a hard science. There’s no one-size-fits-all path from starting line to engaged community as the finish line–and every business and brand will do it differently. But there are resources and best practices that can help streamline the community management training process and shorten the learning curve.
Onboard your newest community management hires with an extensive collection of web guides, podcasts, and advice from industry pros to help get their training on the right foot. There’s a best practice or resource for just about any manager who wants to build an engaged and loyal community from the ground up! Here are 48 ways to help you get started.
As the world’s largest content sharing platform, AddThis offers resources and tools to simplify the sharing process. Their helpful post on Community Manager Tips is perfect for new and emerging communities that evaluate the personalities of their members. Got a loud member? AddThis will show you what to do.
2. CMX Training
Our post Getting Started in Community Management walks brand-new managers through the building process: from listening to members, to familiarizing themselves with community strategy, to talking to other community members. Meanwhile, community leaders feeling lost in strategy talks can sign up for CMX Academy for a community certification.
3. Evan Hamilton’s Blog
Former CMX community builder Evan Hamilton made a name for himself as a professional community builder about 10 years ago, and now professionally consults for companies. Read his blog for ongoing insights on how to grow and measure communities. Community managers based in San Francisco or New York City (run by Rochelle Sonnenberg) can also check out his Community Manager Breakfast Meetup to share insights and swap advice.
4. Facebook Community Standards Guide
Learn about community building from the pros with Facebook’s Community Standards guide. It’s a good primer for areas often overlooked, like helping keep members safe and protecting intellectual property. And in a heated political climate, Facebook also has resources on dealing with attacks on public figures and direct threats to others.
Whether you’re a budding community manager or a seasoned expert, HubSpot published an insightful infographic on the qualities to nurture in your online community. Build a sense of belonging with your members and work to forge a connection. But the real message is: there are no shortcuts to relationship building.
You can find in-depth resources on just about everything on Mashable, and community management is no exception. Online publishers learn to nurture both content and community at the same time, instead of getting sucked into a promotional cycle of trying to get people to read and share blog posts.
Do you have a B2B manager trying to figure out if you even need a community? Read Mashable’s post on 10 Tips for Better B2B Community Management before launching.
The missing silver bullet in your community could be the sense of community itself. Moz’s resource explains how the idea of community is experienced and imagined rather than static. Keep an eye out for insights on why colleges once hazed as part of the initiation process, and the importance of creating rituals with new members.
8. CMX Hub
Although not exactly a web guide, the CMX Community can help guide community managers through particularly delicate situations. For example, CMX members posted on Facebook about how to deal with situations when community members threaten self-harm on your web channels. Their post on “National Suicide Prevention Alliance: Responding to Suicidal Content in Your Online Community” helped direct community managers on best practices that can help save lives.
9. CMS Wire
CMS Wire’s customer experience channel curates the latest industry news and advice about personalized customer experiences. Those types of experiences can take different forms, whether through customer-first marketing, commerce or digital experience design.
10. Community Tool Box
Get a hands-on approach to learning new skills and taking action with Community Tool Box. Aspiring community managers, and those looking to take their work to new levels, can learn new how-to information. They currently feature toolkits on 16 core competencies for community work, including conducting community assessments and developing strategic plans.
Shareable helps community managers walk through the community building process on why some spaces thrive and others fail. The resource explores best practices on how to welcome people and honing the experience by practicing it until it becomes second nature.
12. Stack Exchange’s Community Building Forum
Solo community managers working autonomously on initiatives can turn to Stack Exchange’s Community Building forum to get their questions answered. Ask about everything from using Meetup.com for managing an in-person community, to how much messaging to focus on new events.
13. Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design
Robert E. Kraut and Paul Resnick’s book is a fascinating look at why some communities tank and why others thrive. Read it if you’re a community developer looking for a research-based approach that draws on everything from literature to social sciences and original research.
14. Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators
Internet guru Clay Shirky takes a look at the power behind connecting communities and how they can ultimately impact the greater good. Community managers looking to empower their communities can draw inspiration from stories such as how Kenyans are using sites like Ushahidi.com to report violence in real time.
15. Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last
Tharon Howard’s book explores why some social networks and communities succeed while others fail by looking at what makes people join in the first place. Keep reading to figure out how to engage people to get them to want to come back and become loyal community members.
16. Fierce Loyalty
Sarah Robinson’s book takes the approach that creating fiercely loyal communities is akin to unlocking secret DNA with a proven process. Ideal for community managers who want actionable insights and not just theory, this resource helps de-mystify the community building process.
17. Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social
Corporations struggling to master social media and community building can learn how their different customers are engaging, and on which platforms. Community developers also get a four-step process for formulating a future strategy while evaluating emerging social media technologies.
18. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold And Others Come Unstuck
Master the art of storytelling, and create narratives and ideas in your community that stick. Authors Chip and Dan Heath spent 10 years determining why some ideas and stories stick and others fall to the wayside. Your new hires will walk away with a foundation for giving your audience compelling content they want to digest and share.
19. Social Networking for Nonprofits: Increasing Engagement in a Mobile and Web 2.0 World
Wade through the new technology and social media platforms that dramatically changed the rules of how we do business. The book addresses newbie community developers, as well as those who understand the principles but want to take it to the next level.
20. The Thank You Economy
Gary Vaynerchuk is a master at creating and engaging online communities by blending new technologies with old-fashioned relationship building. Get an inside look at how to leverage one-on-one attention, even in a large community, that spills over to word-of-mouth recommendations.
21. Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World’s Most Inspiring Online Design Community
Gather inspiration straight from the company that pioneered the online business model of crowd-sourced, community-driven design. Threadless offers a book full of their own viral products, as well as the story that started it all. Although this book doesn’t have much actionable advice on building a community, it does show the results of inspiring and empowering a community to think big.
22. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Seth Godin is a leader in turning wandering customers and followers into loyal and cohesive communities. And it turns out your customers and community want to be led. You’ll see which online opportunities you should leverage to mobilize your existing audience and get them engaged.
23. Community Pulse
Join the group of community managers and developer evangelists listening to the Community Pulse podcast. The podcast episodes cover a range of topics, from how to ignite your community and draw them together, to avoiding community development burnout and staying engaged.
24. Community Signal
The community-focused Community Signal podcast dives right into the strategy behind building communities by showcasing industry veteran Patrick O’Keefe and a professional community manager working in the field. Episodes touch on little-talked-about topics like managing a cancer community and how to correctly close your community.
For starters, check out WordStream’s interview with our own Director of Events, Erica McGillivray, who previously oversaw 400,000 member community as Moz’s online community manager. This impactful interview explores how and when to draw a line in the sand and attract and rally members that actually fit with your product or mission.
26. CMX Summit
The premier conference for community founders and professionals, CMX Summit brings together expert speakers who deliver pragmatic approaches for how businesses can invest in and support their communities at scale.
27. Community Leadership Summit
Trade industry stories with the best at the primary event for community leaders, the Community Leadership Summit. Your community managers can meet other community leaders, organizers, managers and organizations that gather to grow and empower their communities. Past speakers have included community leaders from Mozilla, Open Source, and Intel.
28. Community Leadership Summit Europe
European community leaders should head to Community Leadership Summit Europe for the leading peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing event. Designed for new and experienced community leaders, the un-conference-style event takes a more democratic approach where everyone contributes to sessions.
29. The Gathering
The world’s biggest brands come and share their secrets on building unbreakable brand affinity and loyalty at The Gathering. The informal event is designed around intimate talks, workshops and parties for emerging and established community leaders who want to be trailblazers in their fields.
30. CMX Connect
Local CMX organizers rally community builders in global cities to help build relationships, share advice and get insights from the best community leaders in the world with CMX Connect. Community building veterans can also apply to lead a chapter in their own cities by applying through CMX.
31. Dan Spicer
Ask community managers serving in a catch-all community and social media position to watch Dan Spicer’s Slide Deck. The Hootsuite Community Lead explains how to build relationships and serve as an internal advocate as a Community Manager, while Social Media Managers should take social data and turn it into actionable information.
32. Gary Vaynerchuk
It’s easy to get too focused on content generation and community ROI instead of the core of your community. Gary Vaynerchuk’s Go Big on Community Management slide deck uses research-based persuasion on why we need to play the long game. Focus on human connections and relationship building in tandem with creating amazing content for long-term profits.
33. Get Satisfaction
Identify which meaningful community you’re running: Shared Interest, Shared Ownership, or Shared Value. Give community leaders Get Satisfaction’s deck to help them define their relationship and purpose within your community, like troubleshooting product issues.
Genuinely pairs a 147-page resource guide with a Building Blocks pre-recorded webinar for community builders. Assign it to community manager hires looking for best practices and tools for community building.
You don’t have to be a visually-oriented brand to give your community eye-popping assets to capture their attention and get an edge over your competition. Ogilvy gives tips and best practices for community building and engagement, and suggests focusing on advocates who will be the first to defend your brand.
Empower new hires with the Community Manager’s Playbook that goes beyond best practices. Yammer outlines the risks of building a community without an active strategy, including negativity and content sprawl that’s confusing and daunting to members.
37. Brazen Careerist
Brazen offers an innovative way for business owners to connect with potential hires and talent through real-time chat software. Connect and chat with community management talent to get the conversation started. You can also set up live events for recruiting while checking sign-ups and analytics right from the app.
38. Follow Communities
Follow gathers community managers to brainstorm and ask for assistance in their building process in Follow Communities. Users share articles, infographics and concepts to increase engagement and interaction from their communities.
Quora hosts a board for current and aspiring online community managers, and anyone who self-manages their own communities. Community leaders offer insights to help engage and lead the group, or post on issues like what metrics a startup should use to measure success, and the stickiness of their community.
40. Vanilla Forums
Vanilla Forums is known for their cloud-based tools to monitor community engagement and its impact on your sales and growth. But they also have an amazing series of Vanilla Forum webinars on topics such as running or managing communities to help grow your knowledge base.
Community managers who prefer to stay anonymous can head to Reddit’s subreddit for Community Managers. Reddit has a reputation for brutal honesty and zero tolerance for trolling and blatant self-promotion. It’s the place to share grievances on what’s going wrong in your community and figure out how to turn things around and gain momentum.
42. Simply Measured
Simply Measured empowers community leaders with free analytic tools to study their impact across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Community leaders can use features like Instagram User Analysis and Facebook Competitive Analysis to figure out where their most loyal fans are engaging, and how to reach them on a more meaningful level.
43. Demographics Pro
Use Demographics Pro once your hires have a handle on engagement and relationship building. The app uses demographics and psychographics to analyze, influence and target the most important consumers of your brand so you can focus on promising community members.
44. Twitter Social Road Trip
Social Road Trip takes to Twitter and helps turn online social media friends into face-to-face meet-ups offline. It’s a surprisingly simple yet innovative way for community leaders to find new techniques to motivate their communities to engage in online and offline events.
Community leaders who onboard and engage brand ambassadors can sign up for Influencer Discovery to de-mystify the process. Unlike some software and metrics that just look at follower count, Zoomph looks at the stickiness of their posts so you can find influencers to partner with.
46. Sprout Social
Over 17,000 brands use Sprout Social to help manage the social media monitoring and management process. The tool supports all major social networks, and easily integrates Google Analytics to complement its social listening and influencer identification. But where Sprout Social really shines is the ability to see what your competitors are doing by comparing their profile to yours, and get an engagement score to see how you stack up.
A leader in social media management tools, Hootsuite centralizes the social media management process from a central dashboard. Community managers can add social media streams and monitor mentions, posts, retweets and comments from one place. You can also invite team members to collaborate with you, and use a keyword tool to plan and schedule your posts.
Get a deeper understanding of your analytics on your Facebook groups with Grytics. The tool also provides member insights so you can get a better understanding of who they are and continue to re-engage them to maximize the potential of your Facebook group.
What are your favorite training resources for new community management hires? Let us know in our Facebook Group.