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Resources for Community

I co-host The Community Pulse with Jason Hand, and with every episode, we get a fantastic list of resources for community professionals. I've begun this gist as a way to keep track of them all. I'm also pulling some of the resources from CMX Hub and CMGRChat (all notes/reviews pulled from these sites). Am I missing anything? Please leave a comment with any books, blogposts, videos, or organizations you'd like to see represented!


For the most part, these are not resources I have read/watched/listened to myself. My apologies in advance if there is anything offensive in them. Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter if there is anything you find that is off-color or untoward in any way.


The Culting of Brands by 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. Awesome book that studies how cults are formed, and applies those lessons to building community around your brand and message.

Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities by Amy Jo Kim

What makes a Web site a Web 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. Here's a talk she did on gamification with principles that can be applied to building community:

The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation by 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.

Hooked by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover

For anyone interested in building community driven products, this book gives you a framework for thinking about how to keep community members coming back to consume and contribute.

Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

How habits are formed, and how to help people build the right habits WRT your community. Talks about the role of community in creating habits (such as in AA).

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

How people actually make decisions vs. how we think they do :) Fascinating look at human psychology and how it can be manipulated to create the right habits.

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli

What makes a community, a company, or a society resilient to disruption? It's an important question in this age of digital disruptions and community managers sit in an important seat to help orgs build resiliency. Bigger than the community conversation, but very intertwined.

Developing B2B Social Communities: Keys to Growth, Innovation & Customer Loyalty by Margaret Brooks, J.J. Lovett, & Sam Creek

This is a must read for anyone building a B2B customer community (and I think any community manager would benefit from the knowledge). Very comprehensive, the authors take you step by step through the community building process including measuring business value, planning a roadmap, planning content, & the importance of community management.

Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards by Patrick O'Keefe

18 Rules of Community Engagement: A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting With Customers Online by Angela Connor

Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence Based Social Design by Robert Kraut & Paul Reznick

Buzzing Communities by Rich Millington

Community 101: Building Online Communities by Robyn Tippins and Miranda Marquit

A primer on community management. Intended for new community managers.

Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

A deep dive into how to build community from an offiline perspective (a focus on in-person, local communities) -- but above and beyond any book I've read, its principles apply to online community building. Really interesting stuff, a little academic at times but very inspiring.

The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition by David Weinberger, Christopher Locke, Rich Levine, Doc Searls, Jake McKee, J. P. Rangaswami, and Dan Gillmor

The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (and why no one else matters) by Erika Napoletano

Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge by Etienne Wenger and Richard A. McDermott

Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities by Etienne Wenger and Nancy White

A different perspective, looking at the types of community activities you want to support and the intersection between tech and group process to succeed at those activities.

Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler

especially great for internal cmgrs

Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities by Sarah Robinson

Amazing actionable model to use for building a fiercely loyal community including a few accelerators. I've definitely applied this with visible success.

Humanize: How People Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

More of a book on leadership - with fantastic crossover philosophies for community managers - not only useful for external actions, but also a community manager's place within a company. Teaches skills on internal execution and education.

The New Community Rules by Tamar Weinberg

Online Communities: Designing Usability and Supporting Sociability by Jenny Preece

Basic principles and methods for designing community support systems.

Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Browsable and easy to understand. It makes for a quick reminder of what to do to get out of your own way and have people listen to what you're asking them to do. You can also dive into the example stories and tie them to things going on in your community as a way to think through problems. Highly recommended oldie but goodie.

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier by Howard Rheingold

A classic, must-read book about the very first online communities. Should be required reading for all community managers and social media professionals.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sineck

Winning the Zero Moment of Truth - ZMOT by Jim Lecinski

Short e-book by a Google guy that is full of great insights into consumer behavior

Designing Online Communities: How Designers, Developers, Community Managers, and Software Structure Discourse and Knowledge Production on the Web by Trevor Owens

Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists by Margaret Hartwell and Joshua C. Chen

Geared more towards agencies and brands, but quite helpful when trying to come up with the right brand voice for your community. The right voice can be crucial when working for a client.

Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships by Andrew M. Davis

One of the first books I read when I took my job as a CMGR. Talks about word of mouth, building community evangilist, generating buzz, and adopting a lot of old practices of marketing media to fit into the world of new media and online communities

Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

High level, great for organizing your community strategy. Focus on big brand solutions and expensive software. Recommended.

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley and Tony Hsieh

Applies Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory to what Conley identifies as the key "Relationship Truths" in business with Employees, Customers and Investors. Really great read about building a company around a relationship with Employees, Customers and Investors to deliver more than what's expected to meet real human needs.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Fabulous book about change. Simple concepts that focus on what works.

The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service by Lee Cockerell

We as community managers put our customers (members) first so this is a great read about adding that "wow" factor to your interaction with people - a lot of it applicable to us.

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself by Jon Jantsch

Anyone who has to put their community to business use will love this. Word of Mouth referrals, the power of community, and thinking about customer support in very clear and concise ways. (Marketing focus)

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman

Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification by Rajat Paharia

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant


Kathy Sierra, XOXO Festival 2015


Leadership Is a Conversation

Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community Building

Kathy Sierra: Creating Passionate Users


Community Is

Articles & Whitepapers

Dr. David Rock’s SCARF]: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others (PDF)

Evaluating Free / Open Source Software Projects

Content Strategy for Community Professionals

CMX Guide to Community Platforms

Online Communities

Evangelist Collective Slack Channel

Community Leadership Forum

CMX Hub Facebook Group

CMX Hub Slack Channel

Lithium Community


The Community Pulse

Community Signal

Conversations with Community Managers

FeverBee - The show is no longer active, but there's a great archive of content!

The Heart of Marketing

Social Pros


CMX Summit

Community Leadership Summit


FeverBee Sprint

Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD)

Resources for Specific Topics:

Behavioral Research

Certifications & Trainings

CMX Workshops


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@shannonabram shannonabram commented Apr 13, 2016

Hi Mary,

Awesome list - so many books I just added to my reading list! I just wanted to share that while our peer network for community pros, TheCR Network is a private membership space, we have tons of free resources for community management folks that either don't need or don't want the high touch resources available inside the Network.

You can find all of these for free on our site:

Thanks for curating this amazing list of resources!


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@mary-grace mary-grace commented Jun 27, 2018

Add in John Coghlan's list as well:


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@rainleander rainleander commented Nov 14, 2019

Add in John Coghlan's list as well:

Oh noes! "The page you're looking for could not be found."


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@mary-grace mary-grace commented Nov 15, 2019

Add in John Coghlan's list as well:

Oh noes! "The page you're looking for could not be found."

Aw, bummer :( Thanks for pointing that out, @rainleander. I'll check in with John and see if he has a redirect.

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