Open Community

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Open Community

A little book of big ideas for associations navigating the social web

Open Community Book Cover

Written for the complicated and quirky world of associations and membership organizations, Open Community is about how associations can—and why they should—build community online. (Not to be confused with building a successful private social network. That’s just one small part of a really big picture.)

The book is a collection of big ideas. The simple yet far-reaching concepts, framed by our own definition of Open Community, describe how to approach the inevitably long and complex process of building community online in such a way as to help your association succeed. The concepts in Open Community are actionable and applicable to any association, large or small.

“The book is fantastic and incredibly timely. It should be in the coat pocket, purse, backpack and/or shoulder bag of every board member and association management professional in the association community.

I was most impressed with [the authors’] ability to so eloquently challenge contemporary and often accepted notions of community while providing sound and reasonable approaches as to how organizations can maintain and expand their “citizens.” What we often see are open challenges to existing models without any real or grounded statements about why or how we should be changing or reexamining our existing infrastructure.” — Brian Riggs, Association Headquarters

The conversations around Open Community will continue all year on the SocialFishing blog. We hope you’ll read the book and share your stories of Open Community in action. See recent blog posts related to Open Community.

The book itself is organized around five overarching ideas, one per chapter.

Chapter 1: Open Community means collaborating with purpose.

The first chapter gives you a simple framework for figuring out how to define your Open Community strategy by starting with listening on the social web, identifying your stakeholders’ online behaviors and where they hang out, aligning individual business goals with organizational strategy, and measuring what matters to achieve success.

Chapter 2: Open Community means developing into a social organization.

The next chapter covers specific ideas for building internal organizational capacity to build and nurture Open Community, including how to prepare for the impact of social media on your internal processes, individual behaviors, and organizational culture.

Chapter 3: Open Community means embracing the ecosystem.

The third chapter describes the messy ecosystem of your Open Community: the relationship between the public social sites where your stakeholders are already hanging out and the homebase you want to attract them into, what to do about accidental spokespersons, and the importance of small groups.

Chapter 4: Open Community means empowering the periphery.

The fourth chapter discusses how to think about your people differently, in terms of the engagement lifecycle from newbie to champion, the rise of digital extroverts, the member as citizen, and how to find your champions.

Chapter 5: Open Community means participant-defined engagement.

You’ve built your online villages, you’ve opened the doors, now what? What are your members actually going to do once they get there? In the final chapter, we explain the concept of the social object and why that is crucial to the success of your Open Community. We’ll give you some simple tips for seeding and nurturing your community, too.

“If you’re an association leader, you’re already a social media genius. You just need this book to show you how to make it happen.”
Andy Sernovitz, founding CEO, Word of Mouth Marketing Association; author, Word of Mouth Marketing

“Community is much more than a buzz word in social media, it is the lifeblood of any organization. Maddie and Lindy offer an incredibly refreshing and approachable book to help you find and connect with the right people to extend your reach today and nurture online communities that work for you.”
Brian Solis, author of Engage, the complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate, and measure success in the social Web

“If your association has questions about the best and most effective ways to engage with stakeholders online, Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant have provided a clear and helpful guidebook to help you along the way.”
Lisa Junker, CAE, IOM, editor-in-chief, Associations Now magazine

“For nonprofits and associations that want to build communities around their work, this book is a must-read for the guiding principles.”

Beth Kanter, author, The Networked Nonprofit, using social media to power social networks for change

“This book provides an invaluable analysis of the strategic, structural, and cultural issues associations using social media face. Leaders can read this book and come out on the other side ready to move, and not because someone ordered them and not because they are desperate to not miss the boat. Awesome.”
Jamie Notter, VP organizational effectiveness, Management Solutions Plus Inc.; author, We Have Always Done It That Way: 101 Things About Associations We Must Change

Meet the Authors
Maddie Grant, CAE, and Lindy Dreyer are association/nonprofit bloggers on social media strategy and marketing, community building, and innovation. Maddie worked as administrative director/COO for a professional membership association for several years, and Lindy was an agency marketer working for association clients until they launched their social media strategy consulting firm, SocialFish (, which helps associations and nonprofits make the most out of social media. Their book, Open Community: a little book of big ideas for association professionals, draws from their first-hand experience helping organizations change the way they work.
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