There is a lot of information out there about how to manage online communities in the new year. The ideal time to start … or change your community strategy is now. Well, it has to be strategically planned of course. Whether you want to develop new features and functionality, revamp the looks and feel of your community, or add more power and flexibility — you'll need a strategy to get there.
And you're probably wondering where to start with all this information.
Don’t worry. We’ve got your back.
Before that, let's take a look at why your community needs an effective strategy.
Why does your community need a strategy?
It’s 2023. Almost. The decade of community-led growth is on us. Communities are a business already; they’re created as organisations with a purpose and culture. Communities also happen to be one of the most effective forms of marketing and help business achieve their goals.…and it is no surprise that community managers approach community building using strategies to build this synergy.
Community management comes in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. While there’s no one “right way” to manage communities, we often hear that intuition and initiative are more important than a strategy in building each community. And while this may hold true for some teams, it doesn’t apply to all.
💡 Communities that are successful tend to have a shared, authentic ethos about them.
This is what attracts members and makes them want to be a part of that community. Strategies help strengthen this authenticity by making sure that people know how the community will deliver value, what it stands for (ethos), and who is part of it.
💡 A comprehensive community strategy will help you and your team meet the broader needs of your members and organisation by focusing on the rise and fall of trends and ever-changing sentiment as it relates to your members.
It can be easy — and tempting — to let the natural ebb and flow of your community lead it. But there are always steps you can take to cultivate your community better, whether that's through tools or policies.
How to build a strategy that works for your community
Think of a community strategy as a long-term plan for how to keep your members satisfied. It's like having a blueprint for your community program, so you can make decisions about the future of your relationships with customers, influencers and other people who matter to your community and organisation.
Here is how you can build a community in 2023 that both your business and community members can benefit from
1. First things first - Set a goal and a measurement of success
Setting a goal and measuring your success is an important part of creating momentum. When you set a purpose and measure of success, you can keep yourself on track. The same can be said for communities if they were to create a purpose and measure of success for themselves.A purpose is the reason you’re doing this, while a measure of success creates accountability within each person.
A big part of the purpose is understanding the ‘who? what? why?’ of it all.Why are you building this community? Who internally and externally is it for? What value will it add? Build these answers with as much specifics as you can. Come to the minutest detail. This will start helping you look at it from a different perspective.
💡 Dig up as much research as you can
Whether you are starting from scratch or building an existing community ( listen when I say this) Research and data are your best friends. A lot of community builders tend to oversee this fundamental step. The more data you have, the better perspective you get which helps you make an effective strategy. So go out there, speak to existing users and potential users, look into your competition, draw inspiration from what other community builders are doing and take a stock check of what efforts have already gone in.
2.Plan and make a plan to stick to the plan!
One of the biggest draws of any good community is its way of providing value through quality content.
💡 Make a content plan
A lot of the times plans don’t end up coming into action. After all the research you have put into planning and drafting your strategy, you would start having an idea of how you want to deliver valuable content.
When it comes to content planning, a few things to keep in mind - what kind of content are you going to share, how often will you share them and what are all the ways in taking that content to your community. Start thinking outside the box and you will be surprised at the kind of ideas you will start stumbling upon.
The best way to see if all your planning works or not and the only way ( if you ask me) is to take action. Having said that, it doesn't always mean that you have to stick to every detail of the plan and sometimes plans have a way of unfolding. But, it does not diffuse the importance of the planning stage.
3.Get ready to Launch
The last step in your community strategy is to launch. Just before you go into launching your strategy, share it with key stakeholders and see what they have to add to it. This way the value and success of the community you are building will streamline into your business much faster. Work on expanding your distribution channels for creating that thriving community you set out to do.
You have checked all these steps and you have developed your perfect strategy. Let me break it to you, its not over. It’s just beginning. As you may know already, communities are living breathings things. You won’t just be making a one-time strategy doc that you end up sharing in your all hands. It’s a constant learning process. It’ll keep evolving and the beauty of it all is that, as the community evolves so will you along with your strategy.