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If you’re running a group, you’re going to need help. Though hiring help is nice, it’s not always necessary. There are essential tools and resources for online community managers that save so much time, it’ll feel like you’ve hired help – even if you’re a one-person show.
Whether you’re leading a forum, social media group, or any other virtual gathering, your active management of the community is vital to fostering healthy engagement, a positive culture and connection among members.
But you only have 24 usable hours in each given day, and the online world changes at a rapid pace. Whether you’re running your group all by yourself or you have a team of volunteers or contractors, there are tools and resources that make the job easier.
In this article we’ll explore the top tools and resources for online community managers.
From content scheduling and analytics to community-building strategies and beyond, these resources will empower you to create and maintain vibrant, successful online communities without devoting every minute of your day to life online.
See below for my recommendations on:
- Video Resources
- Email Marketing Services
- Social Media Schedulers
- Productivity Tools
- Courses, Memberships and Programs
- Additional Resources
- 1 Video Resources for Community Managers
- 2 Email Marketing Services
- 3 Social Media Scheduling Tools for Community Managers
- 4 Productivity Tools to Support Community Managers
- 5 Courses, Memberships and Programs
- 6 Additional Resources for Online Community Managers
- 7 Want Help Choosing Community Management Resources?
- 8 Share
Video Resources for Community Managers
Video is an amazing tool to connect with your online communities. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but nothing compares with video when it comes to building meaningful relationships with people you have never met in real life.
If you love video, you probably already have a favorite app or software program. But if you’re looking for recommendations, I have two platforms I can’t live without.
Live video is my favorite way to connect with community members, but most social media platforms don’t have the most user-friendly technology in place. StreamYard is a browser-based live-streaming studio our community management team has been using since 2019. If you’d like a stable streaming service that allows you to broadcast to multiple platforms all at once, customize your show with banners and frames, interview several guests and easily navigate between views, StreamYard is worth exploring.
The joke around here is that I speak fluent Loom, because I send so many videos using Loom. I’ll send direct-to-camera videos in response to emails I receive, and I record a lot of tutorials using Loom because the service is so easy to use. To date, I’ve recorded and shared almost 2,200 videos using Loom. Whether I’m offering feedback to a client, providing a tutorial or starting a conversation, Loom makes it easy to do from my phone and my computer.
Loom hosts your videos and tracks views while allowing viewers to leave comments as well. You can trim, edit and embellish your videos – all within the app. And, you can download your videos to upload to various platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Email marketing services allow you to send professional mass emails to your community members in compliance with anti-spam laws. Services like this are critical if you’re sending out newsletters, sales emails or are trying to build up an email list for business purposes.
But they are also a powerful way to connect with your online community members outside of your group, which is important if the community is hosted on social media. You never know when Facebook, LinkedIn or a similar platform will go down or be unavailable. I value having email access to my group members. In The Secret to Thriving Online Communities, we even have a specific email onboarding sequence that goes out to new members and establishes that direct line of communication.
ConvertKit has been around for AGES but has made significant advances in its level of service recently. I started using ConvertKit in 2016 when I had only 45 email subscribers. I was frustrated by MailChimp and looking to make a switch. Even though they didn’t have a free plan at the time, ConvertKit’s customer service and stability made them worth the investment. I’ve never looked back.
Nowadays, they have various tiers that work at just about any stage of business. The freemium plan is fully functional up to 300 subscribers. Lately, ConvertKit has been expanding features to benefit creators. I’m seeing a lot of authors, podcasters and livestreamers go all-in on using ConvertKit to connect with their audiences. It’s just as valuable for product-based business. They have great starter templates and a variety of features to allow you to customize your subscriber experience. They also have a brand-new Creator Network that facilitates collaborative list-building efforts.
I don’t LOVE Mailerlite, but many of my clients do. It’s not the most sophisticated email service but few business owners need sophistication if they are just starting out or enjoy having delightfully tiny email lists. Mailerlite has a free plan that is fully featured up to 1,001 subscribers and allows you to send 12,000 emails a month.
What I appreciate most about Mailerlite is the investment they’ve made in visually appealing templates for just about any industry you can imagine. Unfortunately, they no longer offer templates on their free plan. However, the block editor is easy to use, allowing you to truly create a custom experience with every email you send.
Social Media Scheduling Tools for Community Managers
I’ve used at least 100 social media schedulers over the years. Between my work as a social media manager for a university, an agency owner and a solopreneur, I put every tool through its paces. I believe most schedulers do one thing best or work with one platform best and do everything else “meh” — so make sure you know what your priorities are before committing to a paid plan.
As a people-first community manager, I have a different perspective on social media schedulers. I don’t use them so I can “fix and forget” my social media plan. I use them to publish content when my audience is most apt to see it, so that my time is freed up to develop meaningful relationships on social media. By scheduling my posts, I can spend more time responding to comments and commenting on other people’s posts.
Meta Business Suite
Meta Business Suite has finally integrated all content creation and scheduling tools to provide a pretty good level of service for scheduling to Instagram and Facebook, and moderating your comments. Best part? It’s still free.
The cost of free in this case is basic functionality. Meta will recommend posting times based on your followers’ activity, and even schedule Stories. However, you can’t schedule the first comment in a post, and the hashtag research isn’t very reliable.
I switched from SmarterQueue to Metricool in Fall 2022 because I love the integrated dashboard that combines analytics from my website with all connected social media properties. I also find its scheduler to be more reliable, while still allowing for posts to be recycled on a loop.
I use the paid plan, which allows me to schedule to my LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, analytics are only available for company pages on LinkedIn. I like that I can schedule both my post and the first comment on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you don’t have graphics or images of your own, you can access their image library to illustrate your posts. Recently they even added AI copywriting to help improve the quality of posts.
The plan I have (the lowest) only allows you to connect one property per platform, which means you can connect Metricool to your Facebook page OR Facebook group (not both). I’m hands-on with my community and don’t schedule much content in my group, so I’ve chosen to connect Metricool to my page instead of group.
If Instagram is your primary social media platform, Later is the scheduler you need. It has good features for visual planning, scheduling Stories and Reels. Later is fully functional and supports scheduling to other platforms as well. The analytical data provided is pretty good, especially if you’re tracking hashtag performance.
At this time, Later doesn’t support scheduling to Facebook groups.
If Pinterest is part of your marketing strategy, you need to take a close look at Tailwind. No service is better at executing an effective Pinterest strategy. I don’t care for how it manages scheduling to other platforms but if your brand is Pinterest-forward, it makes sense to fully embrace Tailwind as your social media scheduler. Tailwind scheduling isn’t compatible with Facebook groups.
Productivity Tools to Support Community Managers
As a service provider, I have a lot of experience with productivity tools. I’ve tried several personally and professionally. Whether they are tools my team and I use in our business, or tools our community management clients use in working with us, the choices are numerous.
I believe you are your most important system. The best productivity tool for you is the one that plays nicely with your brain. You may have to try a few to find the right fit for the work you do, but once you make a decision, the time saved is exponential.
News Feed Eradicator
If you find yourself distracted by the overwhelming amount of content on your social media timelines, News Feed Eradicator will be your best friend. This free Chrome Extension wipes your news feed clean, so you can focus on the task at hand. It works on every major social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn and more.
You can turn on the eradicator for a limited amount of time if you’re doing deep work on social media, or keep it on all the time to take control over your news feed.
My people-first approach to community management is made possible at scale thanks to GroupTrackCRM, which works on both Facebook and Instagram to keep track of conversations, ensuring nobody falls through the cracks.
We use GroupTrack for our high-touch member onboarding experience in The Secret to Thriving Online Communities, and I also use it to keep track of people I connect with all over Facebook (friends, page followers, peers, etc.). The bulk messaging feature allows me to stay in touch with people via DMs without landing in Facebook jail. GroupTrack is a great tool for anyone who wants to tighten up their process for cultivating leads via social media.
Basecamp is a web-based project management and collaboration tool that our team uses to manage work and communicate with our clients and each other. It offers a variety of features that can increase productivity, including task management, communication (direct messaging, group chats and message boards), file sharing and scheduling. Customize Basecamp by integrating it with other parts of your tech stack, like Proposify, Toggle, Timeshift Messenger and HoneyBadger.
Having one service to manage internal and external communication and project management has saved hours for my team. We’ve been able to eliminate weekly meetings and can now successfully achieve our goals by working asynchronous to one another. The functionality of the mobile app is just as convenient as the web app, critical for anyone who conducts business on the go.
Asana is a web-based project management tool that is designed to help teams organize and manage their work. Though you can view tasks as a kanban board, Asana is great if you’re a list person. It’s a great service for creating to-do lists, assigning tasks to team members, setting due dates and tracking progress.
Asana has been around so long that it integrates with most popular tech tools online business owners and community managers rely on. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Vimeo and Google’s suites of services are just a few. If you’re going to use Asana for project management, I strongly encourage you to add on Slack for internal communication. Otherwise, you’ll end up buried in meetings or email when you need to brainstorm ideas.
Slack is a cloud-based team communication and collaboration tool that provides real-time messaging, file sharing, and group chat features. It is designed to improve team productivity and streamline communication. Slack makes work easier by including all members of your team in discussions, regardless of locations.
The best remote teams I’ve been on use Slack for internal communication. I’ve also used Slack as a community platform. Not everyone likes Slack’s user interface, but if you take the time to organize your workspace in a logical manner, teach your team to use it effectively and hold everyone accountable to using it as designed, you’ll quickly come to love it. Slack integrates seamlessly with Zoom, Google, Asana, GIPHY and Loom (along with hundreds of other software resources).
Courses, Memberships and Programs
Community management isn’t just a matter of running a Facebook Group or two. To have a thriving online community, you need a variety of other skills: building and nurturing your email list, graphic design, video production, and an understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), online learning and content management. You can hire service providers to do these things for you or enroll in programs that help you do them yourself.
This is not an exhaustive list of the programs I credit for helping me to get to where I am, but they are programs that solve what I think are some of the biggest problems facing community managers.
Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Membership (EMM)
If you’re using your community for lead generation, you need a way to connect with them outside of the group. Email is the best way to reach your members. Getting their email address is the first step but once you have email addresses for your members, what’s next? Ideally, you’ll start emailing them regularly so they get used to hearing from you in both places. But it can be hard thinking of what to say in those emails.
Enter the Email Marketing Membership (EMM) by NSYNC-loving Liz Wilcox. For only $9 per month, Liz will send you an email template and video explanation of how to use it every week. Her membership portal has a variety of workshops on how to grow your email list and turn followers into friends and clients. The membership includes a private Facebook community for team and peer support.
Viral Content Club
Design is not my gift but hiring a designer for social media content isn’t practical. Professionally designed graphics average $14 apiece. That means a package of 15 images would cost $210. That’s a steep price tag for social media posts with an average shelf life of a few hours.
So how do you get compelling graphics to slow the scroll on social media without breaking the bank? The Viral Content Club, a Canva template subscription, is my solution. I’ve been a lifetime member of VCC since 2019 and still find myself relying on these templates for everything from Facebook cover images and Instagram posts to YouTube thumbnails and infographics.
Aside from the Canva templates, members also get bonus resources each month. Recent benefits have included a 0-30K TikTok case study, Notion content database, and 10-day social media launch plan.
This video membership is helpful if TikTok, Reels or YouTube Shorts are part of your marketing strategy. OnVideo is Elise Darma’s membership focused on short-form video content.
Every week, you get five short-form video ideas and caption templates for TikTok, Reels, Shorts and Idea Pins. They are adapted to a variety of business models, whether you sell coaching, services or products. These video ideas are also great if you’re looking for quick videos to post in your community.
Attract & Activate
I’ve been working with Meg Casebolt and the Love at First Search team since 2020. I’m an Attract & Activate alumna and I hire the team each year for an SEO Roadmap.
Attract & Activate, delivered live twice each year, is the first course that made search engine optimization and keyword research make sense to me. Once I understood how SEO worked, I also understood what a beast it can be to do well. Hiring Meg’s team for my annual SEO Roadmap means the heavy lifting is done by professionals. The team does the keyword research for me based on my goals for the year, and provides me with a list of keywords to target and articles to write to support ranking for those keywords. If you found this article from an online search, you have the proof of the Love at First Search team’s success.
Additional Resources for Online Community Managers
Canva is a web-based graphic design platform that allows users to create a wide range of visual content, including social media graphics, presentations, posters, flyers, videos, and more. The interface is user-friend and the template options are vast. Even with no design experience, you can create professional graphics quickly and efficiently.
Canva was one of my earliest business investments, and it gets better every year.
When I launched my first online course in 2018, I looked everywhere for an easy, affordable learning management system. MemberVault caught my eye because it was the first to offer a marketplace dashboard that displayed free and paid offers side-by-side.
You can use it for coaching, consulting, courses, memberships, digital products, and even podcasts. I’ve tried other LMS platforms over the years but keep returning to MemberVault. Nothing compares to the value at this price.
Want Help Choosing Community Management Resources?
Team Kubo specializes in online community design, development and growth. Whether you need help with strategy, training your admin team or day-to-day management of your group, we can help. The first step is to complete our no-cost community health assessment, so we can identify your needs and customize a plan to get the results you desire.