Disclosure: My name was mentioned in this book and I received a free copy. However, this is an unsolicited and unsponsored book review that is completely of my own opinion.
This review, for Richard Millington’s Buzzing Communities is only the third book review I have shared on Community Spark after Patrick O’Keefe’s Managing Online Forums and Angela Connor’s 18 Rules of Community Engagement.
I prefer to review books that are aimed specifically at community building and are from authors I know and trust.
Rich writes the community management blog Feverbee and is the founder of The Pillar Summit, a community management training course.
His book, Buzzing Communities, focusses on how to collect data and how to use it to make your community better. Rich’s book will also help you prove that your services as a community manager are valuable.
This book will teach you how to measure your community’s return on investment and how to calculate your personal return on investment as community manager. Rich shares a list of ROI goals and how to measure them. In effect, this book will help boost your job security.
Buzzing Communities really shines with the data collection techniques it shares. Rich outlines specific tasks for you to follow for each phase of your community’s lifecycle. He tells you what data you should be collecting and the best way to use that data.
By reading the book you will learn how to improve member conversion rates, the key metrics you need to be measuring, how to begin benchmarking and much more.
This book isn’t all about data, though. It contains lots of specific field-tested advice. Rich’s style of community management is ‘quick decisions and quick actions’ – this may not be to everyone’s liking, but he does make some convincing arguments.
One of Rich’s core arguments is that community managers should be less reactive and more proactive. He argues that when all you do is react, you’re simply maintaining the community and not developing it.
According to Rich, community management consists of eight elements:
- Events & Activities
- Relationship & Influence
- Business Integration
- User Experience
The book describes each of these elements in detail and explains how long you should be spending on each, according to the lifecycle stage of your online community. At the end of each section, Rich describes the key metrics you need to be collecting.
You will learn what should and should not be consuming your time when managing an online community. For example, Rich argues that most of your time and efforts should be spent on the ‘unseen’ – for example, instead of worrying about fights and arguments, Rich says that you should be spending more time worrying about the fact only one registered member out of 1,000 is still active six months after joining.
Rich shares examples of bonding/status discussions to help make your community stronger. He shares tips and ideas on how to reduce abuse in online communities and he explains how and why your community should have its very own constitution.
You will learn how to bring in other staff members and why it’s important that your community doesn’t really solely on one person (you) for its survival. Rich also shares the key elements of a successful community homepage.
One great section in particular explains how to organize and run events for your online community. This is something I’ve never seen discussed in such detail in a community management book before and is a fantastic addition.
If you purchase this book and follow the advice it contains, you will be a better community manager. Your job will be more secure. You’ll become more proactive and less reactive. You’ll be able to build and develop better online communities.
I highly recommend it.
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