Book Review: Online Community Management for Dummies

Blogs, social networking and forums are all a necessary part of business in our world today. These tools provide business owners with the means to reach a much broader audience than the print ads and static web pages of the past. Everything is about interaction and getting to know your clients and potential clients on a much more personal basis before diving into a project together.

Simply having a blog on your website or having a Facebook account isn’t enough. You can’t just put up a site or start a fan page and expect it to grow and thrive on its own.

With the first comment you answer on your blog, or with the first member you welcome to your business’s fan page, you are stepping into the realm of online community management.

I won’t kid you, managing an online community isn’t easy. Fun? Yes. A lot of work? You bet.

No one knows this better than Deb Ng. I’ve known Deb for many years now. I first met her when she asked me to do some design work for her former site Freelance Writing Jobs (FWJ). Back then, Deb had a massive community.  FWJ drew writers from all corners of the globe to visit her network of writing blogs. Every day, hundreds of people would drop in and leave comments on the posts she wrote.

Deb was a community management pioneer. She always handled the discussions with grace and the utmost professionalism. Even when discussions got overly heated (and some downright nasty), she always kept her cool and treated everyone with respect.

That’s why when she announced she was writing a Dummies book for online community management, I got very excited.

Diving In

I’ve seen a lot of online communities come and go over the years. I’ve managed a few, too. Some were extremely successful and others…not so much. The thing about online communities, whether they’re a blog, fan page or forum, is you can never tell how successful they will be. You can have a beautifully designed blog, a forum with all the latest bells and whistles, but if people aren’t actively participating with lively discussion, that community will die.

Wendi and I have seen a lot of clients who have struggled with their communities. They’re either frustrated they can’t get the kind of participation they want, or they’ve gotten such a huge response, it’s overwhelming.

This is where Deb Ng’s Online Community Management for Dummies comes in. This book is the definitive guide to all things dealing with online community management.

What I like about this book is it’s not the kind of instructional guide you have to read cover to cover and do step by step to get results. Deb even tells you in the introduction to skip around, skim and scan and use what’s applicable to you right now.

From the very beginning, Deb tells you what to expect as an online community manager and the types of people you’ll encounter. She will give you valuable tips for growing and maintaining your community, and how to assess the health of that community.

Another aspect of this book I like very much is the practical approach. The advice in this book applies to any type of online community. Whether your community revolves around a favorite hobby or you’re using it to grow your business, Online Community Management for Dummies gives you the tools you need to establish a strong, professional foundation for your audience.



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