Build a community strategy

Connect your most loyal fans to increase retention, organic referrals, and customer lifetime value with a community.

People join communities to:

  • Enhance personal connections by bringing friends and acquaintances together.
  • Share hobbies and other activities with like-minded individuals.
  • Create a movement to tackle societal problems together.
  • Gain connections to meet with top professionals in their field.
  • Act on behalf of a business to bring employees, customers, or other stakeholders together to achieve business goals.

The secret to a community’s success is relevance. Audiences will only visit and participate if it is the most relevant way for them to satisfy their needs and desires at a given moment.

Types of communities

Communities led by both businesses and individuals can be categorized as:

  • Support: customer support, member support, health, or circumstance.
  • Exploration: customer success, ideation, communities of practice, or employees.
  • Influence: movements, developers, cult brands, advocacy, or collaboration.
  • Belonging: interests or groups of friends.

Shared strategy is key

Building a successful community requires strategic thinking that is shared throughout the organization. Strategies only succeed if you include stakeholders throughout the entire process. A great community strategy isn’t created, but facilitated; the goal is not to create a final document, but to serve as a change by bringing everyone in the organization along on the journey.

Steps

Research your audience to get to know them, what they might want out of your community, and what would motivate them to join and participate in a community.

Pick a community type that aligns with your audience’s needs and your ability to support the community.

Set clear organizational goals for your community.

Write a positioning statement that takes into account your research, audience, and market and competitive landscapes.

Select a community platform that is aligned with your goals and resources.

Create a community experience that resonates with members of your community.

Map the community member journey by identifying touchpoints and outlining member activities.

Learn why your audience joins and participates and increase community retention.

Launch your community successfully, and maintain that success with post-launch promotion.

Create incentives that motivate community members to be very active in your community.

Nurture top community members through a strategic process to quantify, identify, and reward your most active and relevant users.

Develop your team’s community management and growth skills.

Run a community risk analysis to identify, evaluate, and mitigate the most common legal, reputational, and personal risks of launching a community.

@lsmous

The introduction is far too long. Please revise the Write a hub instructions, particularly:

The 5 reasons to create a community and 4 basic types of communities sections of the intro are fairly good – cut the intro down to essentially just these and the first paragraph. However, as headings they’re still too bloggy. Take the numbers out of the headings, and don’t say things like:

… because unlike blog posts, these playbooks will often be edited and added to regularly. Don’t add maintenance headaches where they can be avoided. Instead say:

It’s shorter and snappier, but more importantly, someone can come along later and add or remove one of those reasons without worrying about changing the five in five core reasons – or for that matter, the 5 in the 5 reasons to create a community heading – to fit the new number.

There doesn’t seem much point in having two separate goal-setting playbooks and steps. Combine the goal- and behavior-setting steps into one playbook; make the other one solely about picking a community type.

So then step 1 would be about audience research; step 2 picking a community type; step 3 about picking goals and encouraging community behavior to support those goals.

You left the main action word to the end of the step. Move it to the beginning, so the reader knows straight away that this step will require research.

The playbook for this step walks through writing a positioning statement and community management tactics that work with the statement. The step text needs to reflect that, instead of making it sound as though the reader will just pick a strategy from a list.

Write steps with the action that the reader needs to perform first. In this case, the action that the reader cares about is Select a community platform. Creating a community experience that resonates, and so on, is the consequence of the action, not the action that the reader needs to take.

Again, write steps with the action that the reader needs to perform first. For this step, the reader needs to map the member journey – that needs to be the focus.

Looking at the playbook, the launch itself and the post-launch promotion are the key activities, not the planning. The step text should reflect that.

Start with a stronger action, like Develop your team’s community management and growth skills.

Run a community risk analysis to identify, evaluate, and mitigate the most common legal, reputational, and personal risks of launching a community.

@naomi_kramer one question on the expandable sections—has that guidance changed? I thought those could be used to streamline hub intros while making more rudimentary content available to those who expand? We can drop them from the intros, though I wanted to understand where they were intended to be used now. Thanks!

@lsmous Hi Laura – generally intros should only be used to explain why the topic is important to the reader, or ease them into the topic. 1-3 paragraphs, that’s all. It should introduce the topic to the reader, basically. This introduction, as it stands, wanders over the entire topic from beginning to end instead. The reader doesn’t care about this stuff at this point. They have questions like:

  • What is community strategy all about?
  • Why should I have a community?
  • Why should I be strategic about it?

If you find yourself needing to streamline the intro, that’s usually a sign that it’s just too long. We do make exceptions, but we try to keep playbooks and hubs very easy to skim and read.

Edits made to address all feedback

Thanks @lsmous! I made some minor edits to tidy it up:

  • Just bold is fine to emphasize text within a sentence.
  • Including the justification for a step can make the step text quite long-winded; I put a couple into the step explanation instead.

Looks really good! This course has been really interesting, as there is a ton more content in the decks themselves than in many of the other courses.

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