Lithium CM Certification: “We Did It!”

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Joe CothrelJoe Cothrel is Chief Community Officer at Lithium Technologies.  He is Lithium’s top expert on community and social best practices and has helped more than 300 companies execute successful social efforts.


He is active on Twitter @cothrel and is a regular contributor in the Lithosphere where he is JoeC



The exultant cry of “We did it!” rang through the hallways of the San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel on May 11, the last day of LiNC, our annual customer conference.  The cry came from almost 40 community managers from around the world who successfully completed the requirements for our first Lithium Community Manager Certification.  Participants from the US were joined by community managers from Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK – a reflection not only of the global nature of our business at Lithium, but also the increasingly global practice of enterprise community management.    


The same cry came also, I think, from a host of internal experts at Lithium, who had spent many weeks prior to the event in content development, slide creation, exam beta testing, and many other tasks required to make the certification a reality.  A lot of hard work went into the effort, particularly among the core team of AubreyLBrianOOliviaL, and TashinaK -- not to mention our fearless leader SherryQ, Lithium’s own director of education and training. 


I have to admit to some trepidation leading up to the session.  Participants included some of the most experienced community managers I know, as well as folks much earlier in their CM careers.  Is the content appropriate for both audiences?  Is it organized clearly?   Will the test be too hard, or too easy?  You don’t really know until you complete your first full round of certifications.  While we’re still combing through the feedback, the early reviews look good.  Among the comments we received from participants:


 “One of the best certification sessions of any kind I have ever seen.”

“This was definitely a graduate-school course in community management.”

“I came away with several things I need to start on next week.”  


And that was certainly our goal with the session – not just to prepare our participants to pass an exam, but to impart knowledge that's useful and important to the practice. 


Among potential next steps with the certification are live sessions in New York and London, sometime in 2012; an on-demand version we can use internally, with partners, and perhaps eventually with customers; and continued enhancements to the content.  We actually developed about twice the volume of content than we could accommodate this time, and new content will also be needed as the practice evolves and changes.  Ultimately, we’d also like to incorporate a mechanism for customers to participate in decisions around the scope and content of the certification.  They are, after all, the practitioners on whose collective wisdom the certification is based.  


Thanks again to all who participated!

Tags (1)
Respected Contributor

My hat's off to Joe for speaking almost non-stop from 08:30 to 16:30 with very few breaks in between and Aubry and Brian for meticulously proofreading Joe's presentation on the fly.  Presenting what Paul described to me as "three days worth of materials in 8 hours" was no joke and no easy task.  Digesting it was surprisingly easy given the methodology behind the delivery.


Despite my tenure in communities spanning back to the BBS days and connecting with baud modems, I walked away with two pages overflowing with notes focusing on ways to improve our community.  My handwriting is quite small, too, so there were a LOT of notes.


This was a valuable experience, no doubt about it.  My thanks again to the Li team.

Frequent Advisor

This certification was definately top notch. The exam was a little tricky with the help of some double negatives, but it was intended to make me think about what was needed.  This isn't just a course for community managers, it's also a great course for companies looking to start up community programs.  Joe was a fantastic teacher and the presentation was very gripping.

Occasional Contributor

Nice job on pulling together a very dynamic course, not simply because it was engaging, but also because we were able to walk away with so many actionable ideas.  It's nice to know that if you want to affect these types of changes, these activities can help support that. I only wish that some of the other vendors I work with offered something similar.

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

It was absolutely amazing seeing that much community management brain power in one room. You guys rocked it!

Khoros Guru

I couldn't agree with Brian more.  We had an amazing group for our inaugural community manager certification!

Honored Contributor

I was very impressed with the quality of the guide and the delivery of the course itself, nice work! Hats off the Lithium team for pulling this together in such a thorough manner, and the attentiveness to updating when necessary.  I really felt your material is gelling into the "Community Bible: how to design and effectively manage online communities"


I am very eager to see the extra content you mentioned when it is available too!  

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Erik, Zach, Lisa, and Brian -- your feedback means a lot!   Thanks so much for sharing.  I'm looking forward to having you part of our ongoing conversation around the certification specifically and the practice of community management in general.  


Brian and Aubrey, couldn't agree with you more!

Honored Contributor



Late adding on a comment here...


Really enjoyed the class and appreciated the depth and focus of the presentation.  I came away with some notes and definitely some things we should start doing and a couple of things that we should probably stop doing as well.   The body of knowledge was impressive.


Looking forward to seeing how this evolves over time to encompass additional factors related to overall success running a community - driving culture change in the sponsoring organization to enable faster responses, greater reflection of listening, and creating stronger customer ties.  Other areas of interest would be technical and process integrations, and best practices in developing community team structure - balancing strategic and tactical / operations roles.



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