Our research uncovered a common story. It might sound familiar. The story begins with a community professional who spends days, weeks, or even months painstakingly crafting together an overarching community strategy. This strategy, they believe, will finally coordinate efforts, allocate resources, and keep all messages on brand.
Everyone we spoke to believed their own tragic anecdotal story was unique. Even those who had experienced the same outcome several times.
In truth, these exceptions are the norm. Most community strategies are shelved shortly after they are published.
However, a few weeks after the new strategy is published, something changes. A member of the team leaves, the budget is cut, a new product is launched. This lovingly-crafted strategy is now redundant. It gets placed on a shelf or stored in a Dropbox folder to collect digital dust for eternity.
This means most communities today are not guided by a clear strategy, which shapes the decisions the community manager makes each day. Instead, community managers respond to the community needs of the moment. [inlineTweet text=”Most community managers are not ensuring the community achieves the goal set and agreed by key stakeholders”]. Instead, they try to ramp up engagement to avoid the budget axe.
[tweet text=”Most community managers are not ensuring the community achieves the goal set and agreed by key stakeholders”]
Part of the problem is the nature of strategies themselves. Community strategies aren’t unique here. Few business strategies last past a few weeks. There are many reasons for this. One is a misunderstanding of what a strategy is supposed to do. Another is the lengthy time it takes to create a strategy. The longer it takes, the less relevant a strategy is when published. A third is the process of strategy. Strategies often impose ideas from the top down, where the best ideas often emerge from the bottom up. For example, a new tactic might prove so successful the community embraces it as their core strategy.
Our goal in writing this is to create a common standard for community strategies. We want to change how you think of strategy, how you approach developing your strategy, and how you ensure your strategy is relevant to your audience.
Here, we have attempted to clarify some of the biggest misconceptions about community strategy and guide the process of creating a strategy. You will learn:
- What a strategy is and how it is used.
- Why you should never set your community goal and why you should always set community objectives.
- How to keep a strategy relevant.
- How to use data to improve your community and how to design your own community dashboard.
- How to embrace the constant change that plagues all organizations.
Next we’ll learn what elements you should see in a strategic plan.