At CMX, we’re all about helping community professionals thrive. And what better way to level up your community building than learning from the greats?
The CMX community reading list is a curated selection of books on community building that will help you upskill your career, craft a stronger community strategy, and understand the psychology behind connection. This list includes how-to books for launching your first community to psychological studies that will make you think differently about community engagement, and everything in between!
These recommendations have been hand-selected and approved by the CMX Community, so you know they’re relevant for community managers today. This list is broken into two sections:
- Books about community building. Learn and apply strategies directly from some of the most experienced professionals in the community industry.
- Books about humans and community. Explore why and how we form community and become a more well-rounded community strategist.
Let’s dive in! Click on each book cover to learn more.
Books About Community Building
The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers – Douglas Atkin
At first glance, companies like Apple and Nike have little in common with organizations like the Hell’s Angels and the Unification Church. But in reality, they all fulfill the main definition of a cult: They attract people who see themselves as different from the masses in some fundamental way. Contrary to stereotypes, most cult members aren’t emotionally unstable—they’re just normal folks searching for a sense of belonging.
Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities – Amy Jo Kim
What makes a website a digital community? How have sites like Yahoo, iVillage, eBay, and AncientSites managed to attract and maintain a loyal following? How can web developers create growing, thriving sites that serve an important function in people’s lives? Community Building on the Web introduces and examines nine essential design strategies for putting together vibrant, welcoming online communities.
The Business of Belonging: How to Make Community Your Competitive Advantage – David Spinks
The rise of the internet has brought with it an almost shockingly persistent drive toward community-driven business. From CMX’s own David Spinks, this book covers everything from the fundamental concepts of community strategy—including how community drives measurable business value, and what are the appropriate metrics—to high-level community design and practical engagement techniques. The Business of Belonging is the guide for every business leader who wants to make community their new competitive advantage.
The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation – Jono Bacon
Online communities provide a wide range of opportunities for supporting a cause, marketing a product or service, or building open-source software. The Art of Community helps you recruit members, motivate them, and manage them as active participants.
Developing B2B Social Communities: Keys to Growth, Innovation & Customer Loyalty – Margaret Brooks, J. J. Lovett, and Sam Creek
Three veteran community managers show you how to harness the knowledge of the crowd to help shape your company’s strategic direction, develop new products and services, identify trends, sell more, serve customers more efficiently, and provide better product support. While this is a must-read for anyone building a B2B customer community, any community manager could benefit from this knowledge.
Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities – Richard Millington
Buzzing Communities cuts through the fluff to offer a clear process for creating thriving online communities. This is a great book for brand-new, first-time community managers as it covers common mistakes and provides a great overview of concepts like measuring data, making data-backed decisions and more.
Building Brand Communities – Carrie Melissa Jones and Charles H. Vogl
An authentic brand community is far more than a group working alongside one another or a list of customers connected to a brand on social media. Building Brand Communities distills key lessons to create engaged and effective communities by growing mutual concern, expressing common values, and sharing experiences.
Get Together: How to Build a Community With Your People – Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, Kai Elmer Sotto
Get Together is a practical and heartfelt guide to cultivating a community. Whether starting a run crew, connecting with fans online, or sparking a movement of K-12 teachers, the secret to getting people together is this: Build your community with people, not for them.
Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities – Sarah Robinson
Whether you work with online communities or offline communities, Sarah’s model for unlocking Fierce Loyalty in your community is super easy to understand, efficient and effective. The book gives clarity through reasons and diagrams behind the theoretical concepts.
Building Successful Communities of Practice – Emily Webber
Communities of practice are tightly knit communities of people who are working in the same profession to learn from and with each other. Emily Webber describes why and how to build communities of practice in a successful manner and how they can make truly agile companies work and become even more successful.
Books About Humans and Community
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – Nir Eyal
Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us? For anyone interested in building community-driven products, this book is a framework for thinking about how to keep community members coming back to consume and contribute.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg
In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. For community managers, this book talks about the role of community in creating habits (such as in AA) and sheds light on how to help people build the right habits in your community.
Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back – Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy
What makes a community, a company, or a society resilient to disruption? This is the key question Resilience tackles. It’s an important question in the age of digital disruptions, and community managers sit in an important seat to help organizations build resiliency.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens takes you through the history of human evolution and explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” It’s not explicitly about community, but you’ll find the common thread of our evolution is just that. Our need to connect goes all the way back to our early roots, and those same brains are driving our decisions and connections today.
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization – Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright
Tribal Leadership shows leaders how to assess, identify, and upgrade their tribes’ cultures, one stage at a time. This book focuses on improving workplace culture and creating organizational excellence, and is a must-read for any community manager.
The Village Effect – Susan Pinker
Susan Pinker explores the impact of face-to-face contact from cradle to grave, from city to Sardinian mountain village, from classroom to workplace, from love to marriage to divorce. Pinker suggests that living as our ancestors did, steeped in face-to-face contact and physical proximity, is the key to health, while loneliness is less an exalted existential state than a public health risk. This is a useful read for anyone who works with people.
The Culture Map – Erin Meyer
Anyone managing a global community will want to check out Erin Meyer’s field guide to global interactions. Whether you need to motivate employees, delight clients, or simply organize a conference call among members of a cross-cultural team, the eight dimensions featured in The Culture Map will help you improve your effectiveness.
Thank you to the members of the CMX Community who submitted book recommendations! This page will be continually updated with new recommendations. If you’d like to share a resource, please contribute here.