The role of “Community Manager” in technology goes back to the late ‘90’s, when many organizations recognized that they needed some help in managing their online discussion boards and other Internet-related communications.  By 2001, it had become a more common job title, used at organizations like Weight Watchers and Consumer Reports.

9781118466858 cover.inddFast forward twelve years later, and we find the phrase in countless articles, books, blogs, conferences, and groups – and of course, job titles. Why on earth would two really smart digital marketing professionals like Aimclear’s Marty Weintraub and Lauren Litwinka want to add to the industry’s already compendious literature on this subject?

The answer lies between the covers of their book, The Complete Social Media Community Manager’s Guide: Essential Tools and Tactics for Business Success, published by the Sybex imprint of Wiley. Note the words in the title “essential” and “complete.”  That’s a pretty big challenge in a world of incessant and daily change.  And yet, I do believe they’ve come as close to accomplishing their challenge as possible.

The first part of the book covers some of those great big-picture concepts like brand voice, understanding ROI (after all, you’ve got to be able to wrestle with the bosses on why you need to expend effort on this stuff), demographic research, and how to extend your reach using all the means available.

Timeless Tenets of Non-Gratuitous Social Behavior

The second chapter of the book has me at the title, “Timeless Tenets of Non-Gratuitous Social Behavior.” Here, the authors take on some of the behavioral side of community management – much of the emotional-intelligence aspects that are so difficult to teach.

The book wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t address some of the brass, tacks, and nails of the various social platforms. But true to the authors’ reputation for being providers of valuable information for those of us in the industry, even there they’ve shined some light on some platforms that I wasn’t familiar with.

In the chapter on content, the authors take on the topic of owning your content – whether you should put it out there where you have no control or keep it close to home. There are some other gems here, too, like the bit on editorial calendaring. The section on creating your own dashboard in Outlook is worth the price of the book – or even more.

Litwinka and Weintraub sum up community management at one point as being, “all about listening, publishing valuable content that connects with your audience in a human way, engaging with the community, and managing our reputation.” And thus, the book moves from content to engagement.  Here, the authors provide more approaches to research and discovery.

The next chapter covers a topic that Weintraub is famous for: the use of paid advertising to amplify your social communications.  I’m convinced that if Facebook’s advertising business model takes off, they should send Marty Weintraub a royalty.  Zuckerberg should at least name a building or child after him – as Weintraub’s advocacy of these techniques has woken many of us up to the possibilities of these techniques.

Any organization using social media is going to, at some point, make a gaffe or a fumble either on social media or in the “real world.” The chapter on community crisis management could stand alone as an eBook, and should be in the hands of every community manager in the world.  Besides all the good sane advice on when and if you should delete comments or ban community members, the authors’ advice on creating a crisis protocol is particularly noteworthy.

Finally, all community managers need to be able to measure their activities and the impact of their work.  This is a hot topic, as highlighted by a recent Social Media Today discussion on LinkedIn.  I don’t think any of us in the industry have the holy grail of social media measurement solutions yet, but this book’s contribution to the topic is valuable.

For a paperback, at $39.99, The Complete Social Media Community Manger’s Guide isn’t inexpensive. But even if you’re working at minimum wage this book will pay for itself immediately.  If you have team members, buy copies for each.  As for me, I’m placing an order right now for five more copies.