What’s the difference between an online community manager and a moderator? More cowbell.
At least, that’s the answer BlogWorld’s very own community manager Deb Ng gives in her new book Online Community Management for Dummies. Deb was nice enough to send me a copy to review, and at the end of this post, she even has a special giveaway for the BlogWorld community!
Online Community Management for Dummies is part of the best-selling Dummies guide series from Wiley. On the cover, Deb promises to teach readers how to:
- Identify core tasks for community managers
- Build and maintain positive relationships within your online community
- Establish policies and transparency
- Manager comments, respond to criticism, and evaluate ROI
I whole-heartedly think she fulfills these promises.
If you have blog, podcaster, business Facebook page, forum, video series, or any kind of other online content, you have a community – people who enjoy what you do and feel a sense of camaraderie about your online presence. A lot of people make the mistake of never engaging their community or even acknowledging their existence, but without these loyal people supporting your work online, you’re dead in the water. Deb’s book is all about how to interact online in a way that thanks your community for their support, builds your network of fans, and helps them thrive.
Online Community Management for Dummies is 314 pages split into the following parts:
- Part I: The Basics of Online Community Management
- Part II: Embracing the Community Manager’s Role
- Part III: Building a Productive Online Community
- Part IV: Growing Your Community
- Part V: Assessing the Health of Your Community
- Part VI: Taking Your Community Offline
- Part VII: The Part of Tens (Ten Essential Community Manager Tasks, Ten Must-Have Skills for Community Managers, and Ten Best Practices of a Community Manager)
I like that this book is so encompassing and even covers the complexities surrounding specific types of communities, such as communities for children. The biggest negative, in my opinion, is that this is a Dummies book. I think Deb does a great job making the content interesting, but I personally tend to enjoy books that have less of a rigid structure and more personal stories about failures and successes. That said, if you’re new to community management, the structure of a Dummies book makes it easy to follow along and learn step-by-step, so don’t let this observation of mine deter you from picking up a copy.
I found the most helpful section of this book to be Chapter 7: Listening to Your Community. Writes Deb,
It’s one thing to watch and a whole other things to listen. During your rounds on the social networks, blogs, and community pages, pay attention to what people are saying. How many members are saying the same things? Members won’t come to you with every concern or request, but they may share ideas with one another. Pay attention to what they’re saying an take notes.
I think that’s where a lot of community managers fall short – they monitor, but don’t actually listen. Of course, this is not the only point of good advice in the book. Deb also makes a lot of stellar suggestions and observations such as:
- Adding a community calender so members know what’s coming up
- Rewarding loyalty with prizes and perks
- Encouraging members to share rather than making it all about you
- Using Google alerts to make sure you know what people are saying about you
- Consider planning real-world meetups/tweetups
- Avoiding the negativity trap
I could continue, but in all honestly, you should just pick up a copy yourself!
Or you could win a copy! That’s right, Deb has agreed to give away a copy of Online Community Management for Dummies to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment below responding to the following community challenge:
You write a blog post that goes viral and starts bringing in hundreds of comments. As readers weigh in with their opinion and reply to one another in the comments section of your blog post, you notice that one commenter continually makes negative remarks and calls other people names. He’s not just trolling, because he actually has insightful things to say about the topic, but his comments are increasingly rude and hurtful not just to you, but to other commenters. What do you do?
Leave a comment below by Friday, May 11, 2012 at 5 PM EST and one lucky winner will be drawn to receive a copy of Deb’s book!
(Fine print: Winner will be drawn using Random.org and notified via email. Winner must respond within five business days to claim this prize. You may comment as often as you like, but only one comment per person will count as an entry. Commenting from multiple accounts and other attempts to cheat the system will result in disqualification. Only comments answering the above question will count as entries, though other comments are welcome. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. All decisions made by BlogWorld are final. Void where prohibited.)