How To Develop A Community Strategy

Community Goals and Objectives

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:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.

The Goal Of A Community

A community can have multiple goals; however, one goal should be the priority. The goal should be something that directly achieves value for the organization.

If the goal of the community does not directly achieve value, the community has no value.

For example, “increasing loyalty” or “getting more web traffic” are not directly connected to value. You want to uncover what happens if members are more loyal or you get more web traffic. This might mean better retention rates, more advocacy, or increased sales. These are your goals.

The goal of the community is the outcome of member behavior, it’s not the behavior itself.


A community might be tasked with reducing customer service costs, increasing retention rates, acquiring new customers, increasing employee abilities, or reducing recruitment costs, etc. These are your goals.

These are all clear goals that are easy to understand in terms of value to the organization.

Converting Goals Into Objectives

Once you have the goal (for example, increase customer satisfaction), you can translate this into specific behavior you want members to perform.

This is where you need to carefully consider (or test) what specific actions members need to perform for the community in order to achieve that goal.

There are two ways of doing this. The first is to use the image below to look at possible behaviors, which might lead to the goal being achieved. You can find some useful examples of converting member behavior here:


How value is achieved

Specific behavior you need to get this value

Increase spending from existing customers Increase retention rates
  • Asking questions and getting replies from the brand.
  • Participating in discussions with the brand.
  • Read information about the brand’s mission, superiority or purpose.
  • Earn points or status that prevent switching.
  • High levels of self-disclosure with other members.
Existing customers buying new / more of product / service
Increase frequency of purchases
Increase in customers Lead generation
  • Create searchable content to increase traffic.
  • Sharing problems to generate search leads.
Lead conversion
  • Asking pre-purchase questions about the product and getting favourable answers.
  • Searching and finding pre-purchase questions answered favourably in the community.
  • Sharing discussions and content with friends on social channels.
Reduced costs Less spending on advertising
  • Reading and opening positive brand messages.
  • Sharing positive brand messages.
Less spending on PR
Less recruitment costs
  • Answering questions and demonstrating expertise.
  • Viewing job advertisements posted in the community.
  • Sharing job advertisements posted in the community.
Call deflection
  • Asking the question in the community and receiving a response which solves the problem.
  • Searching for the answer to a question and finding the answer.
Improve staff productivity Less time searching for information
  • Tagging people with their skills and expertise.
  • Asking for help in the community instead of email.
  • Better tagging and storage of documents to make them easier to find.
  • Updating useful documents.
  • Inviting the person to share their expertise at the exact moment they’re needed.
Innovation Idea generation
  • Suggest new ideas.
Product feedback
  • Post useful feedback on the product.
  • Complete surveys.
  • Participate in interviews.
  • Vote on ideas.
Non-profit More informed members
  • Read superior information than available by a Google Search.
  • Ask questions they’re too nervous to ask elsewhere.
Donations from members
  • Take collective action.
  • Make a donation.
Higher levels of satisfaction / social support
  • Reciprocate information to build close, supportive relationships.

The Correlation Test

If you think more knowledge shares increases customer satisfaction, you can  run a correlational analysis. See if an increase in knowledge shared (articles, posts, etc.) correlates with an increase in customer satisfaction over the same time period. This is easy to do.

Generating Sales Leads

If the organization’s goal is to generate more sales leads, this might mean increasing traffic to the site, collecting email addresses and information on relevant resources, and members sharing problems in the community, which can be tagged and followed up by the sales team.

This leads to three unique actions that we can track and closely connect to the goal of generating more leads for the business. For example:

Business Goal Community Objectives
Generate leads for the business.
  • Create content/discussions which increases traffic through search.
  • Submit email addresses and information to download resources.
  • Share problems that the brand’s products/services can solve.

Key Performance Indicators

This means we have three specific key performance indicators (KPIs) we can measure to follow success:

  1. Search traffic to content articles created by the community.
  2. Number of email addresses submitted to download relevant resources that suggest buying intent.
  3. Number of problems shared in the community that are tagged as leads.

We could even break this down further. We could identify particular topics that are frequently searched for, identify the kinds of resources that are useful to identify potential buyers, and identify the kinds of problems where the brand can most help. This would be a more precise measurement.

Make sure that the objectives at this stage are converted into specific member behavior which you can measure. Then, make sure that these objectives are also agreed by your stakeholders. If the stakeholders do not agree that these objectives are tied to the goal, you will struggle to prove the value of the community later on. Once we know what these behaviors are, we need to understand how we can maximize them.


  1. You should not set the goal for your community; instead, you should uncover the goal of your community by proactively understanding the value to leadership.
  2. The goal of a community is to change member behavior. Identify the specific behavior members need to perform in order to achieve the goal.
  3. A community creates value by changing the behavior of its audience.



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