How To Develop A Community Strategy

There are several types of change, which you can categorize as follows:

  1. The community goals change. This is where there is a major shift in the objectives of the organization or the department and the goals of the community change. For example, the goal might no longer be to increase customer satisfaction, but to reduce costs. This is also the most dangerous from a community management perspective. The viability or value of the community itself might be called into doubt.
  2. The stakeholders change. This is where key stakeholders change or members of your team leave. This might have two major impacts. The first is you no longer have the same level of support as you once did. This often happens if your boss leaves. In this situation, you have to re-establish the link between the community and their goals. You have to get approval and understanding on the strategy again. You need to be proactive in this process, not reactive.
  3. The resources are cut (or increased). This is the most common. Your resources are reduced (or, rarely, increased) and you need to adapt. This usually happens when more work is dropped on your desk and you have less time for the community, your team members leave and you cannot get the budget to replace them, or your budget is cut. It might also be when you lose the permission to do what you want to do, or a resource you counted on (e.g. support of a designer) is eliminated. In this case, you need to review what you can do effectively and adjust your work at the tactical level.

Responding to Changes

In any change there are elements of the strategic plan you need to abandon and elements you need to keep. Change brings as many opportunities as it does challenges.

Below you can see means of responding to each of the possible changes.

New corporate or departmental strategy This is usually a change in goals. This changes what you do but not the resources you have to do it. You still have the same amount of time and resources to allocate. This usually means a focus on new products, new audiences, or reduction in costs.

  • Keep your current resource analysis and team skill/passion analysis.
  • Proactively identify the new goal; don’t wait for it to trickle down (because those making decisions might preemptively decide the community doesn’t match the new goal).
  • Lobby on behalf of the community (this is an opportunity).
  • Work rapidly to establish new objectives for the community (and work down from there).
Change in senior stakeholders This usually means changing the objectives or working to get them approved again. The goal might remain the same, but senior executives might have new ideas about the behavior that would help them achieve that goal.

  • Identify, negotiate, and agree reasonable objectives.
  • Don’t let objectives be set too high to achieve.
  • Don’t let objectives be set too low to be valuable.
  • Reallocate resources in favor of the new objectives (and work down).
Change in line manager (boss) Strategy If your boss (or a direct line manager) is changed or replaced, you might need to change your strategy. At the very least, you will need the strategy signed off again. You will need your boss’ approval to use the resources in this way.

  • Provide your boss with opportunities to add input into the strategy.
  • Get new strategy signed off. Pay specific attention to getting the resources signed off.
  • Adjust any tactics to suit the new strategy.
Change in resources (cut or increased) If your resources are increased or reduced, your tactics have to change to match. Cuts are unfortunately more common than increases.

  • Cut the least effective tactics.
  • Prioritize tactics which have the most reach and depth  This usually means cutting out the least effective tactics and prioritizing the things that might have the most reach/depth/longevity.

This is usually a relatively quick change to make.

Change in team members If you or your close team members move on to new roles, the execution of the tactics has to change. Each new team member will have new skills and passions. Your action plan needs to adjust to reflect this.

  • Identify skills and passions of new team members.
  • Identify new skill or knowledge gaps which need to be closed.
  • Reallocate tasks to accommodate changes.

Most changes are unanticipated. Yet, they create opportunities to seize as well as challenges to overcome. You can respond quickly to changes to adapt the strategic plan and impress the value of the community upon newcomers.

Do not try to persist with the same strategic plan if many changes have occurred. Adapt quickly and keep going.



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