Essential reading for online community managers

books in a stack (a stack of books)
Image by austinevan via Flickr

A good friend of mine started a new job for the new year – working in social media for a UK charity. She asked me what reading I could recommend for somebody looking to learn more about online communities and how they can be launched and grown. There are a whole range of great books out there on how social media is used and the impact this is having on society (anything by Gladwell or Shirky would be a great starting point), but she was interested specifically in things that help managing and growing communities online.

Here’s the very short list I shared with her (and a few extra ones added in). There are many great books, articles and blogs out there and we’d love you to share your favourites in the comments below. But this is a good starting point and we would consider them essential reading for online community managers.


  • Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities, Amy Jo Kim (Amazon) – a great text explaining the how to grow online communities, and explaining through examples why they grow like this.
  • Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards, Patrick O’Keefe (Amazon) – another great textbook of how to set-up and manage online forums and discussion boards.
  • 18 Rules of Community Engagement: A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting With Customers Online, Angela Connor (Amazon) – a pragmatic approach to planning and building online communities, you can read our review of this book here.



This is purposefully a short list – what would you add to it? Let us know your essential reading in the comments below.