Community Strategy Insights

The latest insights on community strategy, technology, and value by FeverBee’s founder, Richard Millington

What Does A Complete Community Strategy Look Like?

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

I’ve seen community strategies which range from a couple of slides to 120+ page documents.

The two documents serve entirely different goals – but both are called ‘strategy’.

Which raises the question, how can the definition of strategy vary so wildly?

What should a strategy include? What’s the goal of a strategy? What’s its role within an organisation?

I want to share how FeverBee thinks about strategy and what it does (and doesn’t) include.

It might also highlight the parts of your strategy which are missing.

(aside: if you want a much deeper dive, read Creating Successful Community Strategies)

What Is Real The Purpose Of A Community Strategy?

A strategy establishes the best way to get from where you are today to where you need to be in the future with the resources you have available.

This highlights several core requirements of a strategy

  1. It must begin with a clear assessment of where we are now (Situation Analysis).
  2. It must provide a specific viewpoint of where we want to go in the future which is shared and agreed upon by stakeholders (Goals and Roadmap).
  3. It must detail a logical set of steps to get there (Action Plan).
  4. It must detail the internal structures and processes to safely execute the action plan (Governance and Operations).
  5. It must provide a mechanism for evaluating whether the community has succeeded (Measurement/Dashboards).

This highlights why ‘strategy’ can mean entirely different things to different people.

Everyone is working on different documents.

Our view is strategy isn’t a single definitive document, but a collection of documents – each of which serves a key purpose.

1) Comprehensive Analysis of The Current Situation

Before you can decide where to go next, you need to properly diagnose where you are today.

A good analysis should include:

  1. A review of the macro environment. What is happening in the industry? What are the key trends to be aware of? What do our members really need and how are these needs changing over time? This can be presented as a PEST analysis. (It typically includes interviews, surveys, and which things are and aren’t working).
  2. A review of the organisation’s needs. What do stakeholders need from the community? Is their alignment on community goals and a shared understanding of community? Are there any fears or concerns? This can be presented as a stakeholder map.
  3. Community benchmarks. The community should be benchmarked against best practices, alternatives, or key competitors. This also includes community UX research and testing. This is usually a slide deck with a comprehensive overview of the current community against best practices – with identified areas of concern and improvement.
  4. Community results. This analyses both the methodology for measuring community results and the community results themselves. This might include developing a methodology for measuring ROI and understanding the analysis. This can be presented as a presentation featuring graphs with an accompanying methodology.

Each of these serves as its own document but we often summarise this entire stage as a simple SWOT analysis where we can dive deeper into each area as needed.

This process is a lot of work and involves a specialist skillset combining research, analytical thinking, and community expertise.

Many organisations lack the time and skillset to do this well. This is why FeverBee enjoys taking on these projects on behalf of our clients.

If you’re interested in FeverBee undertaking a full evaluation of your community, please drop us a line.

2) Goals And Community Roadmap

The roadmap is the critical overview that outlines the way forward. The roadmap should include:

  • Specific goals for the community. 
  • Specific community targets to achieve (often presented as community OKRs).
  • Required member behaviours to achieve those goals.
  • The agreed community ‘strategy’ (optimization, adapting, repairing, replacing).
  • Short, medium, and long-term roadmap (typically, 3 months, 12 months, 24 months) showing key initiatives.
  • The resources required at each stage.

This is often a much shorter document but also the one everyone must agree to. It works well in presentation form.

Only the people more involved in the community need to get in the weeds beyond this level. It may also require community forecasting skills to set the right targets.

Stakeholder workshops can often help get everyone aligned in this process. The critical aspect of this stage is prioritisation. You have to be clear about what you will be doing and what you won’t be doing.

If you want to make sure you’re getting the roadmap right, drop us a line.

3) Action Plan

The next step is the action plan.

This is the detailed ‘in the weeds’ process of what programs the community will execute to implement the roadmap.

This is where you work at the community management level to ensure the programs being executed are executed well. 

This may include:

  • A community playbook. This is a detailed document highlighting each program, how to do it well, and clearly highlighting what it involves. This is usually a significant document as it covers every program that needs implementation and how to implement it well. This works best as a .doc which can explain everything in significant detail. 
  • Technical specifications, design, and configuration requirements. These are the recommendations for the community experience (i.e. the technology piece). It may include specifications for a platform, the design, and configuration requirements for the community. This is often a combination of documents, including presentations, RFP spreadsheets, wireframes, etc. Click here to learn about FeverBee’s Community Experience services
  • Training and resources. There might also be a need to increase the skillset and knowledge of the community team to implement the plan. This can be provided in multiple forms. It might include on-demand training courses, customised training workshops and resources, building an internal centre of excellence, and mentoring etc…Click here to learn about FeverBee’s Community Training Programs

Unlike the other parts of the strategy, this often works better as a .doc than a presentation.

It requires a far greater level of detail than a presentation can offer.

4) Operations and Governance

The next part of a strategy should be your operations and governance structure.

This outlines the processes which need to be in place to ensure the community can be safely executed.

This will typically include a combination of:

  1. Operations. This might include community organisational structure, roles and responsibilities, individual staff progression, and budgeting for now and in the future (although the latter might also appear under roadmaps). This is usually a combination of distinct documents (often single pages or slides).
  2. Governance Policy. This identifies who can and can’t speak on behalf of the organisation, what information can and can’t be disclosed, procedures for responding to critical incidents, moderation and escalation pathways, and examples of responding to complex situations. This is typically presented in a .doc form.
  3. A risk analysis. This identifies the likely source of issues which may arise and pre-emptively develops a plan for mitigating those risks. These risks tend to fall under five categories; legal risks, reputational risks, risks to members, risks to staff, and risks of failure. This is typically presented as a presentation doc which can be shared internally and frequently updated.

In our experience, it’s common for the community leader at an organisation to undertake much of this work themselves.

But it can certainly help to have outside expertise.

5) Measurement and Improvement Framework

This is the evaluation of whether a community is achieving its goals and how to improve the community.

This typically includes:

  • Methodology to measure the community’s north star. This is typically a spreadsheet with accompanying instructions. But it can also be integrated in a .doc.
  • Measurement framework. This is typically either a full community dashboard in software like Tableau or PowerBI or a simpler Google or Excel spreadsheet. The tool used depends on who needs access to the data, how frequently they need it to be updated, and how they will use it. If you need people to have the ability to explore it, then a dashboard makes sense where you can provide users with access. This lets them explore as required (and is generally more secure than providing access to a spreadsheet which can be duplicated and copied).
  • Improvement framework. The improvement plan isn’t as common, but essentially the flow chart shows how decisions will lead to one another. This way you can prepare what you will do with the data before you create it.

It’s important to have this in place so you can track success and quickly identify if you’re on track or not.

To learn how FeverBee can set this up for you, click here

Do You Need A Complete Strategy?

Need? No.

Does it help? Absolutely.

You can (and many people do) build a community without having a complete strategy. Each time they encounter a new problem, they try to tackle it. 

And that’s ok, you can muddle through tackling each problem as it arises. 

But the major benefit of having a complete strategy is you don’t waste time and resources. You always know what you want to achieve, what to prioritise, and you’re taking the most efficient path to achieve your goals. 


Get Help To Complete Your Strategy

The challenge with creating a complete strategy is it takes time, resources, and skillsets many organisations don’t have.

This is where a consultancy like ours can help.

If you’re looking for help to quickly complete your strategy, drop us a line.

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