Your very first step in any community project is to determine the goal of the community as established by leadership.
You should do this in the job interview before you begin working on a community. If it’s too late for that, understand the goals on your first day. If it’s too late for that still, set a meeting with your boss’ boss tomorrow and identify the goals.
Believe us, we know how hard it is if you’re the sole link to the community in an organization that does not appreciate or understand its purpose. However, set a meeting and ask a combination of questions. This might include:
- What would you like to see from the community (and why)? Try to link this to a key value metric (see our ROI project) for more information on this.
If this does not yield a useful answer, try something along the lines of:
- What are your biggest problems? What opportunities do you see ahead? Look for something that would relate to a clear value metric along the lines of increasing revenue, reducing costs, or social impact (for non-profits).
You need to be really proactive and persistent in understanding the goals for the community here.Tweet This The best approach is to speak to your boss and find out what the goal of the community is. Push repeatedly to understand what behavior the organization is attempting to change and how this fits in with the organization’s broader strategy. Clarify, clarify, clarify…
You might find yourself having to ask several repeat questions to get the real answer. For example, many organizations might set the objective to increase customer loyalty. But does customer loyalty mean people then become advocates? Does it mean they stay as customers for longer? Does it mean they upgrade their products to a premium level, or spend more on related products?
You need to persistently clarify how the community is considered to contribute to the organization’s value.
Setting Your Own Goals Is A Bad Sign
If you find yourself being asked to set your own goals for the community, this is not a good sign. This suggests the organization does not know how the community creates value and is ambivalent about finding out.
You need to work with stakeholders to uncover their biggest problems and see where the community solves those problems. Make sure that your stakeholders accept and agree these goals in order to avoid problems later on.
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