Around 18 months ago, during a community strategy breakdown, I asked participants whether they had a strategy.
It was a snapshot poll and only a few hundred people replied, but the results were illuminating:
I doubt much has changed since then. There is a real and severe strategy deficit in our approach to communities right now.
Some communities never evolved from the trial and experimentation phase. Others are managed by community leaders who never find the time to pull everything together into the bigger picture.
This results in far too much-wasted effort, a failure of communities to achieve their real potential, and communities that never become indispensable to organizations nor members.
Even the strategies I do see are often a restatement of the community’s goals (“drive engagement”, “improve collaboration”, “reduce support costs”) rather than a logical process to achieve goals which recognise competing priorities and the trade-offs which must be made for the community to thrive.
If you don’t invest in and value a community strategy, the best you can ever hope for is small incremental improvement. Creating a strategy isn’t something you can do in your spare time. For starters, you don’t have any spare time. It’s a full-time role (or consultancy project) for several months.
If you want to make that big leap head, invest the time it takes to create a community strategy.