How To Develop A Community Strategy

Allocating resources is where you will start to feel the pain of trade-offs. As we noted before, you need to prepare yourself and your stakeholders for what happens when you reallocate your resources.

You’re going to see a drop in some metrics we’re tracking in favor of the metrics that matter. This is to be expected and it is part of the strategy process. You should expect to lose the battles which do not matter much to you. The drop in one or more metrics should be acceptable due to the overwhelming gains in the more critical behavior metric.

Be decisive but not absolutist

The Art Of Strategy

A general doesn’t spread his troops evenly across every battlefield. He decides which battles are worth fighting and allocates his resources to win those battles decisively.

However, a general doesn’t send all his troops onto the battlefield. There is still plenty of other work that needs to be done and positions defended.

While you need to decisively reallocate our resources in favor of your strategy, you still need to keep the community running. Or, more simply, while a strategy should be decisive in nature, it shouldn’t be absolutist in implementation. You still have other work that needs to be done to make it possible to achieve strategic objectives.

For example, it’s great to focus on the super users, but if you allocate 100% of our resources towards them, you will stop attracting newcomers to replace the natural churn of current members.

You might not be helping the regular members who still have simple questions to answer. Likewise, it would be pointless to spend all your time growing the community if there is no-one to answer their questions when they do join.

That would be a sure-fire way to burn through new members.

Decide Resources Before Tactics

You should decide your resource allocation before you decide which tactics to use. It is very tempting to dream of a tactic you wish to deploy first and align everything else to match. This is a mistake. It will lead you to select tactics that are not the best use of your resources.

At this stage, you might want to start breaking your resources down and determine exactly what this means before you get into the tactics. This will later force you to choose the tactics to fit the resources available, instead of adapting the resources to those tactics which sound impressive.


Strategic Objective

Objective 1 (SO3) Objective 2 (SO2) Objective 3 (SO3)
Increase customer satisfaction Increase the amount of knowledge shared from existing members who create quality content.
(By learning more about their products, customers will be more satisfied with them.)
Ensure the number of newcomers who ask a question stay within 15% of current levels
(This keeps newcomers asking questions in the community and prevents a decline.)
Ensure the overall level of activity of existing members stays within 15%.
(This keeps current members participating at close to current levels.)

Strategic Objective






All 100% $13,000 40 hours per week 8 group emails per month (for example) 100% (can allocate specific examples)
SO1: Make the top content contributors feel like a superior, exclusive, group of insiders 65% $8,450 26 hours 6 group emails per month about top members Programmer, designer, boss’ permission
SO2: Ensure members still feel confident to ask questions 15% $1,950 6 hours 1 group email per month helping members feel confident N/A
SO3: Ensure members feel respected when they do ask a question 10% $1,300 4 hours 1 group email per month helping members feel respected N/A

Here, you can see how the goals filter down into two key strategic objectives. This, in turn, trickles down into three key strategies. One strategy targets those already creating quality content and aims to amplify their sense of superiority and exclusivity. Another targets newcomers and ensures they feel confident to ask questions. The third ensures members feel respected when they do ask questions (this keeps them highly engaged in discussions).

We can now weight these strategies and allocate resources as we see above. Our main strategy targets existing content contributors. We have allocated 65% of our resources to this. This means $8,450 per month, 26 hours per week, 6 emails per month and our main internal assets.

The other two strategies receive significantly less resources. You might find that allocating resources like this makes you feel uncomfortable. This is a good thing (keeping reading).


  1. Don’t spread resources thinly across multiple strategies, but allocate resources decisively in favor of a single strategy.
  2. The best results come from committing the majority of your resources to do things extremely well.
  3. Don’t commit all your resources to achieve a strategy. You still need to keep the level of growth and engagement relatively high.
  4. Determine what the total budget, time, attention, and goodwill looks like in reality.
  5. Weight your strategies by the percentage of resources you will allocate to it.
  6. Use this weighting to allocate budget, time, attention, and internal resources.



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