How To Develop A Community Strategy

The purpose of creating a strategy is to allocate resources to achieve decisive outcomes in favor of your objective.

As you saw previously, there are many exciting optimizations you can make. It is often optimizations that are talked about at conferences, in webinars, and demonstrated in blog posts. These can help, but only to a degree. Ultimately, your performance in any single area is influenced by the amount of resources you have to allocate to that area.

This means we need to know what resources we have to allocate. There are four major resources:

  1. Your time. With very few exceptions, the more time you spend on the task, the better the outcome. Time lets you do more idea generation, more research, build better relationships, go the extra mile in what matters, etc. But time isn’t the only resource you have to allocate here.

    How you allocate your time and the time of your team is entirely within your domain of control. Be aware that some of your time might be taken up by meetings and existing commitments. Estimate perhaps 60% of any individual working full-time on a community could be spent doing community work. Also be sure to include any volunteer time here as well. This might be more flexible, but you can base it on the current amount of time volunteers spend in your community.
  1. Audience attention. You might be able to do a big promotional push to get members to perform a behavior once every few months, but not once a week. There is a law of diminishing returns about audience attention.Tweet This Each message has a lesser effect. This means audience attention is limited and, thus, a valuable resource.

    This is a variable metric, but it is essentially how often you can communicate with your audience before they begin to tune out. You can test the open and unsubscribe rates by email to understand this better. It might also include how many big announcements you can make.
  2. Budget or money. Although different budgets can magically appear and disappear on the whims of stakeholders, let’s assume money is very much fixed. If you have a discretionary budget to spend, you get to choose when and where to spend it. This might be on services that will help you perform your role, on paid support, or other miscellaneous costs (e.g. hosting events). This can often be the difference between publishing a series of blog posts or a professionally designed book. You could just as easily develop a self-published book people can buy if you can afford an editor/designer etc.

    It is not always easy to catalogue a budget. In many situations, your boss will not agree to a budget before she knows where the budget will be spent. Try to understand if there is a broad range of discretionary budget which could be spent on key objectives.
  3. Internal goodwill. This can refer to a number of tangible or intangible assets within the organization. For example, this might include the ability to ask a developer to help you code software you need, or a designer to help you design assets for the community. It might refer to the length of time the organization will give you to demonstrate success. It might be contrary to the organization’s trust to let you do things they perceive as risky.

    It might be hard to catalogue internal resources and your access to them. If you have the broad support of your boss, you might assume you could, if the idea was strong, use in-house resources to achieve your objectives.

Example of Limitation and Allocation

An example of the limitations and allocation questions are shown below.

Finite resources



Time This is the total amount of time you and your team can spend on any one project. What would you need to stop doing to reallocate your time according to the principles above?
Attention This is the amount of attention your audience will dedicate to the community. What would you need to stop promoting / guiding your members’ attention towards?
Money This is any budget you might have to allocate within the community. What would you need to stop spending on to invest in the above?
Internal goodwill This is how much time and space the organization is willing to give you on risky plans. This includes the permission you have in order to use internal resources to develop your ideas. What are the key risks you need to persuade your organization to take on your behalf?
What will you do with the assets provided by the organization?

This isn’t a comprehensive list of resources and you can probably add your own. These are, however, the most common resources you have autonomy over. You get to decide every day how you’re doing to deploy these resources within your community.

Catalogue Your Resources

The first thing you need to do is to catalogue the resources you have available. This means your budget, your time, the audience’s attention, and internal goodwill (access to in-house assets).



Budget $13,000
Time 40 hours per week
Attention 8 emails per month
Goodwill In-house, programmer, designer, boss’ permission, CEO willingness to be involved.

By this point, you should have a clear idea of what resources you have to allocate. Now you just need to know how to allocate them.


  1. You have four major resources to allocate to achieve your strategy: time, attention, money, and internal goodwill.
  2. Time is the total amount of time you can allocate to community projects.
  3. Attention is the number of messages you can send to your audience before fatigue sets in.
  4. Money is the total budget you can invest in the community (including staff salaries).
  5. Internal goodwill is how much time and space the organization will give you to pursue risky objectives or provide access to key resources (IT, etc.).



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