Generating, growing, and engaging a group of people on social media in support of a business or a brand is no easy feat. As we’ve seen in a number of previous articles on Sprout Insights, the role of a community manager is a multi-faceted career involving very specific skills sets, connections, and resources in order to be successful in one’s job.

Whether it’s visiting a trusted blog to keep up with social media marketing or industry specific news, or attending a trade show or conference to commiserate and share ideas with peers, savvy community managers typically have an array of go-to activities that help them do their jobs.

We spoke with a number of professional community managers and asked them to list a few of their personal must-have resources. If you’re a community manager or actively involved in social media marketing, feel free to check out any of the following resources (and community managers) to help you do your job more effectively.

Tim McDonald: HuffPostLive

Tim McDonald is the Community Manager for HuffPostLive  — the live-streaming portal for Huffington Post. He’s also the founder of My Community Manager, which is called the “community for community managers.” In these roles, Tim has occasion to sample and use a whole host of tools and resources that help him in his job. Here are three of his favorites.

Twitter: Tim says Twitter “is far and away the best way for me to stay up on people and trends.” He uses it for research on topics, and keeps lists to follow people more effectively.

Google Hangouts: “For as great as Twitter is for staying up on people and trends, Google Hangouts allows me to engage, in the purest form, with members of my community,” says McDonald. “It’s taken the place of the telephone for me in most cases.”

GPS for the Soul App: This is an app built by Huffington Post. “This tool allows me to calm down and get centered when my stress level rises. The app allows me to scan my blood pressure, and then do breathing exercises or stretching at my desk.” McDonald adds that this app is a great way for him to de-stress without having to “unplug” from the rest of the world.

Khaleelah Jones: Welltok

Khaleelah Jones is all about the tools when it comes to the best community management resources in her role as U.K. based Manager of Community and Content for WellTok.

Confluence: “This is my go-to tool for community management. Confluence is where I keep all my data, vital sources such as my editorial calendar and style guide, lists of contributors — everything!”

Social Fresh: “This is my go-to resource for all things social media news related. Although my company runs its own social media site, I use the Social Fresh website to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and so on.”

Well+Good: “This is very valuable resource specific to the health and wellness industry. I visit Well+Good not only for its content, but because it also has a very vibrant community. I love to get ideas and inspiration on how they cultivate adoption and engagement within its network.”

Jonha Revesencio: Freelance Community Manager

Sticking with the theme of powerful tools to help make the job of community management more effective, Jonha Revesencio, a freelance community manager based in Singapore, lists the following as her must-have community management resources.

E-Consultancy: “It’s my go-to-resource when it comes to market research, digital marketing trends, case studies and other industry-related analysis.” Jonha says that “it’s important for every community manager to keep learning in order to make better strategic plans for the communities we’re handling.”

The Community Manager: “Without a doubt this website is the main source for all my community management-related information, including the latest news, case studies and reports. Its contributors provide valuable insights and first-hand experiences on how to better build, manage and improve communities.”

Facebook Groups for Community Managers: Jonha uses a variety of private Facebook Groups for community managers to share resources, tips, tools, and updates with other community managers around the world. “It’s easy, quick, and allows community managers to ask questions with fellow social media practitioners to resolve issues in the community.”

Brandie McCallum: My Community Manager

Brandie McCallum is both a freelance community manager and a co-producer of the My Community Manager web portal.

When asked about her must-have resources, Brandie replied without hesitation, “to be effective at my job, I need Twitter!” She says that it’s a great place to ask questions and participate in some of her favorite Twitter chats including bizforum and #cmgrhangout.

Interestingly, Brandie says that perhaps the most important resource for her as a community manager is in-person meetups with real people. “The very best way for me to do my job, is to actually go out and meet people! I use conferences, Meetup and Eventbrite to find great events, reach out to new people to meet, and basically come out from behind the computer.” Brandie says that for her, “offline connections are just as important as online.”

Mariana Nepomuceno: ReverbNation

Like Brandie McCallum, Mariana Nepomuceno — community manager for ReverbNation says that she gets a lot of inspiration for the content she posts from the offline world. Mariana explains, “our audience consists mostly of independent and emerging musicians who follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get music industry news and DIY tips. So what do I do to deliver it in a way they’d be interested? I listen and talk to my audience in the ‘real’ world.”

Mariana says talking to her co-workers, many of whom are independent musicians, allows her to find out what’s hot in the indie music scene and where the best local shows are happening. As a non-musician, Mariana says “I’m not part of my audience, I’m not a musician, so in order to achieve maximum engagement in our conversations online, I have to go out of my way offline to understand them.”

Finally, Ms. Nepomuceno has an insight that’s applicable to community managers of every stripe, no matter what type of communities they may be managing online. “I think the important message here is, no matter what industry you’re in, make sure not only to understand your audience, but to learn to speak their language as well.”

Are you a community manager? What are some of your must-have resources for your job? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image credit: USAG-Humphreys]