Essential Reading For Building Online Communities

September 14, 2009Comments Off

I don’t think we’ve seen a definitive book about online communities yet. Not in the same manner that other books have defined their industries.

But the practice of planning, designing, building and managing a community remains largely unknown. So what are the best books about online community management?

I’d recommend:

  1. Amy Jo Kim – Community Building on the web. Probably the best author solely about the topic of online communities. Amy deals with game mechanics and the sociology/psychology of communities better than anyone else.
  2. Joshua Porter – Designing for the Social Web. Joshua is the expert on social design, follow his tips to increase your membership and engagement with simple changes. 
  3. Clay Shirky – Here Comes Everybody. An exciting look at what’s possible with online communities. Clay’s book was the definitive book last year.
  4. Duncan Watts – Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. A little old, but a classic and more scientific read about the networks and levels of engagement between people in any community. Not to be confused with Mitch Joel’s book.
  5. Guy Kawasaki – Selling the dream. An important book about the spirit of building online communities. This created the genre of evangelism.
  6. Seth Godin – Permission MarketingMuch more useful than Tribes. Learn how to gain permission to talk to the people you want to reach. Crack this and you’re half way there.
  7. Robert Cialdini – Psychology of Influence. It’s vital to understand the theory behind influence. If your organization wants it, if you want it, if you want your key members to have it (and you should), you need to read this.
  8. Jackie Huba & Ben McConnell – Creating Customer Evangelists. An updated version of Guy’s work, Jackie and Ben explain what makes people passionate and talking to each other. Most importantly, they explain what organizations need to do
  9. Angela Connor – 18 Rules Of Community Engagement. A great look at the day to day role of managing communities. Angela’s been through it all. Good times, bad times, threats, deaths, meets and daily discussions.
  10. Randy Farmer and Bryce Glass – Building Web Reputation Systems. I’ve cheated, this book isn’t out yet. But judging from the chapters posted on their Wiki it’s going to be the definitive resource about building web reputation systems into online communities.

Feel free to add your own in the comments. Also be on the look out for my own eBook due Oct. 27.

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