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In the growing body of information about how to grow and manage online communities, Angela Connor’s 18 Rules of Community Engagement is among the best. The book is full of common sense and good advice from someone who has been there, done that, and continues to do it. Angela is a successful community manager, growing golo.com to more than 11,000 members in 18 months (currently more than 13,000 members). GOLO is a vibrant online community sponsored by Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill-area WRAL TV.

Some of the most thought-provoking information is in “The Basics” section that precede the “Rules.” The section is full of interesting information, like whether or not a community will form just because you make a platform available (nope), and why communities so often fail (most community managers focus on what the community can do for them instead of how to best support the interests of the community). Ms. Connor also writes about what community managers do, and what kinds of attributes they need to be effective in engaging and growing their community.

The rules themselves (e.g., don’t be pushy, stroke some egos, provide useful information and content) are mostly common sense. But common sense is often the first casualty of online communication, and these reminders of common sense dos and don’ts (and some things you might not consider without reading the book) can save you a lot of painful learning-the-hard-way. They’re all amplified with Angela Connor’s real-world community management experience and several links to websites that relate to some of her research or illustrate various points, which makes the book a very interesting read (allow a couple of hours for the nearly 90 pages).

Given the quality of the information, it’s bargain-priced at $19.95 for the book ($17.95 at Amazon) or $14.95 for the ebook. I reviewed the ebook, and the only complaint I have is that the publisher did not bother to reformat the book for easier onscreen reading. In order to make the text big enough to be easy to read onscreen, I had to constantly scroll the page. Finally, I printed it out and read it on paper. This, of course, undermines the value of the many links. But it’s a minor complaint about a really useful book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to community managers and bloggers (who are community managers, though often of a smaller scale).

Find out more about the book at Growing Successful Online Communities.

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