Tactics aren’t so important.
Tactics change for every community.
We have a massive playbook of tactics that have worked in a variety of communities.
Processes are critical. Processes remain the same for every community.
The best community managers aren’t those that stumbled across a series of successful tactics that work in one community, but have mastered a set of processes that they can apply to any community.
When we train community manager, we train them in processes. How do you systematically identify what the community needs and how to resolve that need.
Take growth. You can boost growth by trying to get bloggers to write about your community, gaining promotion in relevant media, encouraging members to share content. As a result, growth might temporarily go up.
A process has a different result. A process keeps growth high.
This means reviewing data to benchmark your current level of growth, looking at what is/isn’t working so far (where are you in the lifecycle, what sort of growth does your community need, where is most of your growth coming from right now?)
Then you implement the growth strategy. This strategy is based upon theory. We know for example that greater levels of ownership lead to high levels in referral growth. Instead of a temporary promotional hit, we might work hard to ensure members feel higher levels of ownership.
Tactically that might mean more shared, collaboration, activities. It might mean encouraging participating in something that affects real change in the community (and then automating it so members themselves are responsible for this). It might mean developing an insider group of members or a constitution. These are all singular changes that will indefinitely pay dividends to the community.
We then see what worked what didn’t. We test different approaches (based upon proven theory), that we believe will work. It’s a process, not a singular action.
If you work at the tactical level, you’re usually moving from one spike to the next. Sometimes you strike it lucky and get a lot of members, sometimes you don’t. If you’re working at the process level, you’re working to sustainably keep growth and activity high.
The difference is between an action that makes the level of growth/activity go up, and a process which makes the level of growth/activity in a community stay up.
Aside: We’re working on something terrific. If you want to help, please take 5 minutes to complete this survey. If you leave your e-mail address, we will send you a free lesson.