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Unhappy Community Strategists

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

It’s easy to come up with a list of what needs to be changed.

In my early consulting days, I was prone to diagnosing problems and suggesting improvements like; “add all newcomers to a newcomer group”, “introduce ideation”, or “create a regular newsletter”.

But I soon found these suggestions clashed with technical realities.

For starters, few platforms had these as default capabilities.

This meant custom development would be required. And once you introduce a custom element, you need to keep updating it. Worse yet, you need developer time. You might be waiting for weeks, even months, for your in-house team to work on a critical community task.

Next, every new feature caused a chain of other issues to solve. Ideation is pointless unless a technical team has a process to evaluate and use the ideas. Sometimes the technical team thinks ideation is a terrible way to generate ideas. Unless you can get them onside, there’s no point doing it.

Quickly your calendar becomes filled with vendor meetings, internal meetings trying to win over skeptical colleagues, and it becomes harder to focus on the fun strategy stuff you thought you were going to do.

Almost every community manager wants to become a strategist. But, strangely, many strategists seem to miss being community managers and focusing on day to day engagement with members.

Three things to consider here.

1) A good community strategist invests the time doing these things before making the recommendation. We spend countless hours with vendors, technical, and internal teams to identify what’s possible before adding it to a strategy.

2) If you don’t enjoy this kind of work, don’t do community strategy. It might sound prestigious, but a lot of community strategy work is less about crafting a strategy from up on high and more about diving into the thickest of weeds to determine what’s possible and prioritising things accordingly.

3) Get help. It’s hard to do this alongside another job. I’d suggest getting help. Either through a dedicated strategist to tackle the entire project or to turn the high-level strategy into practical steps.

It’s ok to simply enjoy engaging with members and not the fiddling technical or internal details. That doesn’t make you a bad strategist, it makes you a great community manager.

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