Beyond Engagement: How Top Community Pros Build Their Strategies
Most of our work over the past year has been focused on community strategy.
A lot of people running communities aren’t sure what they should be focusing on, what goals they should have, or what their community can become.
This is the reason we don’t get the support we need and our communities often achieve only a fraction of their potential.
Most of the time, people don’t even know what resources they need to ask for to achieve their goals.
This post is going to help you think about this problem the right way and explains the concepts we cover in depth as part of our Strategic Community Management course.
What Your Roadmap Might Look Like
When you’re just starting out, you usually begin with a single goal (this is usually customer support, collecting feedback, or customer success).
But over time you need to expand your goals until the community is supporting many areas of the business. This is how you can multiply the value of the community.
Alterx, for example, has one of the best brand communities I’ve seen. The community supports many areas of the business including customer support, training customers, events, gathering feedback, and a lot more we can’t see from the surface.
It’s so valuable to customers it even gets mentioned by the CEO on investor calls as a key pillar of the company’s strategy:
Forget engagement, that’s the level we want to aspire towards.
That’s what happens when your community is supporting multiple channels of the business. You become indispensable
When we teach participants to build a roadmap, we tell them to begin with a single goal which colleagues directly care about. Once that’s established, you can understand what other senior colleagues need and begin aligning the roadmap to those goals.
For example, it might look like the below:
Once you have a roadmap like this, it becomes a lot easier to explain where the community is going and what you need to get there. Once your colleagues know how the community will support them in the future it becomes easier to get support yourself.
When you have clearly progressive goals and know where you want the community to be in a few years’ time, you not only get a lot more respect, you also get to focus on doing the work that matters, not just driving more engagement.
IDENTIFYING THE RESOURCES YOU NEED
Too many community professionals make the same mistake. They ask for more resources to improve the community or drive more engagement.
No-one really cares about either outcome.
You should only ask for more resources to drive better results – this means tackling additional goals.
For example, you might ask for a part-time support staffer to identify and collect great case studies from the community for the sales team. Or you might ask for resources to build a platform which lets you easily track, escalate, and resolve more customer problems or set tasks for members to respond to etc…
These are directly connected to clear outcomes. Never ask for more resources to increase engagement, ask for more resources to capture more of the value a community creates.
But you need to know what to ask for. This means you can take your goals roadmap and turn it into a required resources roadmap.
This highlights the technology, support staff, money, and processes you need to put in place to make the community reach its goal. For example, a (highly simplified) version might look like this:
Now you know exactly what you need to get to where you want to go. You can have a serious discussion about the trade-offs in getting more support and what you can deliver if you get that extra support.
You can present options to your boss and colleagues too.
“With [x] number of resources, I can deliver [y]. But with [xx], I can deliver [yy]”
These are the kinds of discussions that get you taken a lot more seriously than talking about the level of engagement you generated last week. It’s the level I believe everyone working with brand communities should be working at.
….and it’s the level we’re going to take you too if you sign up for our course.