How to Create a Community Strategy From Scratch

How to Create a Community Strategy From Scratch

Looking at community through the lens of value capture (as marketing frequently does) can distort your perspective and expectations

I need to build a community strategy. Where do I start?

Whether you're starting from scratch with a new community or taking over an existing one, you'll almost certainly be tasked with developing a community strategy. This can be both daunting and exciting.

It's clear that the path to the community is fraught with risk: underinvestment, a lack of internal alignment, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of community have led many companies to try and then abandon community programmes.

“But the biggest challenge I’ve seen is that they lack a go-to-community strategy” says Orbit CEO Patrick Woods in a recent blog for Andreesen Horrowitz

What Is GTC ? it’s a roadmap to incorporating one’s community into one’s strategy. It transforms questions like “How many leads did the forum generate last week?” into questions like “How many people did we help”? The primary agenda is value creation.

Too much of the discussion about community has centred on either high-level concepts (such as empathy and belonging) or tactical aspects of community management (such as job titles or channels).

So, what changes are required when considering GTC?

Consider what you wish to alter when you begin to think about your GTC Strategy :

  • Alter the way you assist and serve your customers.
  • Transform your business by acquiring leads and nurturing prospects throughout their lifespan.
  • Modify how you produce goods, share information, and receive input as your business grows -
  • Modify how you engage partners as your company grows -
  • Modify how you connect experts, partners, and advocates with prospects or new consumers

You're well aware that a community can have a significant impact on your company. But before you start sending out invitations, make sure you have a GTC in place to help you plan, build, execute, and measure your performance because community isn’t about pushing people toward a binary endpoint, but about creating an environment so compelling that it naturally attracts people toward its center.

Questions to ask when defining a go-to-community strategy

Here are some questions to add more nuance and rigour around the potential for GTC in your company to help make the concept more concrete:

  • What value will we create for the community, whether or not they are paying customers?
  • What values and norms will we model and do we expect of the community?
  • How will we incentivize, recognize, and reward participation?
  • Are we establishing a learning and development cohort? (Promote product adoption or recurring purchases)
  • Do we keep track of consumer feedback? (Collecting data to help your company grow)
  • Do we know how to engage prospects and convert them into customers? (Sales promotion)
  • Do we plan to include integrations in your budget?
  • The cost of human resources
  • The costs of the event, the content, and the promotion
  • Costs of Professional Development and Training
  • Who are the community's top two or three personas?
  • Who will create, manage, and maintain the community ?
  • Do we have a team or just one community manager to help you with this or it is you who will be managing it initially?
  • Will tasks and functions be distributed among different people?
  • Which platform are we going to use?
  • What measures will you use to measure the community's success? How will you connect critical KPIs to overarching business goals like cost, customer satisfaction, and sales growth?

If you are struggling to answer these questions, it’s time to hit  the pause button. Why?

  • If you don’t lay out which resources you need, you will struggle to get off of the ground.
  • If you don’t understand who will be accountable, the initial momentum you started with will fade away quickly.
  • If you don’t thoughtfully outline your platform requirements, you will struggle with implementation and updates.

We believe that companies with a go-to-community strategy will be more incentivized and equipped to participate in a relationship between companies and customers that is trending toward a positive-sum orientation, as opposed to one that is solely focused on one-sided value extraction, ensuring that they deliver consistent value to their communities.

We'll go through some tried-and-tested community-building strategies that can help you listen to your audience, provide meaningful content, and, most importantly, cultivate strong relationships. We've also included some real-life examples to get your imagination going. Let's jump right in.

Strategy #1: Build Trust

Getting to the above requires considering the most basic thing you can provide all the way up to the most outrageous thing, and then determining the steps you could realistically take to take your community to the next level. Trust = Consistency Over Time

Few easy wins that would help you build trust over time (something Reid Hoffman talks about in his podcast Masters of scale )

  1. Get someone that people trust to endorse you, or to be the articulator of your value proposition.
  2. Be radically transparent. Post an online bulletin board that all of your customers can use and that everyone can see. Or offer to do an “AMA” interaction and be completely open to any question.

Building trust is never easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. And remember lasting bridges must be built from both sides.

Starting small and achieving some significant successes early on is crucial to success.

Don't try to do everything at once.

Begin with simple solutions to problems your audience is experiencing, and then progress to more complex issues to provide a 10-star community experience ( something similar to 10-star check in which chesky talks about )

Long and laborious as such on-the-ground customer interaction was, it exposed Chesky to Airbnb’s every flaw, whether minute or massive, and enabled him build viable solutions rooted in real user experiences.

This obsession with perfection should not abate as you see your community grow.

Obsessiveness with a 10-star product design and customer experience does not end with a successful founding for Chesky —in fact, it only becomes more important as your company grows and evolves, allowing you to not only maintain your prominence, but also assure your consumers that your standards and the benefits you provide will only increase over time.

Strategy #2: Post interesting content and encourage user-generated content.

The next step in your community strategy is to create a plan for the types of community content you’ll produce, and how often you’ll share it.

The conversations, content, and connection that emerge from a community reveal what matters to them, what they struggle with, what they need to be successful, and what matters in their world.

Many community owners struggle with the problem of writing posts. They often think that they have nothing to say, or that what they have to say looks too simple. But as one of the rules of our life says – the simpler, the better. You take for granted what you have, but members of your community come to you for your knowledge and experience.

Consider the following when creating your content:

  • What are the most frequently asked questions in your community? Collect these questions and examine them from various perspectives.
  • This is yet another excellent content idea. It can include information about upcoming events as well as requests for volunteers.

Your [community will have more user-generated content (UGC) as it grows. This is content created by members of the community who have been "inspired" by specific products or services, rather than by marketers or copywriters. People express their opinions, and in this way, they sometimes become a part of the brand.

According to a study by Air on how Notion has been able to build such a strong brand in large part due to their passionate, grassroots, audience base. The audience insights they gathered throughout their growth phase, that clarity we just talked about — none of it would have been possible without this deeply engaged grassroots following.

These social followers are a mish-mash of the users from those audience segments we mentioned earlier: Single-player, self-serve, and enterprise. They post “how-to” videos on YouTube, share templates for specific use-cases, and create the type of UGC marketer’s dreams are made of like this top post from r/Notion:

Content planning Plan out how much time you will devote to content creation. Creating high-quality content will take longer than anticipated.Based on analytics from your platforms, determine the best times for your posts and plan them for the week ahead.

Strategy #3: "Grow" community ambassadors and evangelists

Build a Community of Brand Ambassadors Rather Than a Number of Followers

Could you name half of the people you follow on Twitter? Ok, go!

Perhaps there’s a brand or two that really stands out in your mind because they’ve interacted with you and tend to post more stimulating content then the average tweeter. Those are the accounts I want to focus on, and how to make your brand become a community rather than a pool of unconscious followers. Yes, having 20,000 followers provides credibility in a sense, but that can only take you so far.

Such people are not difficult to find. They will like many of your posts, leave comments, and retweet you on Twitter. They will engage with all of your content, active in your community and begin inviting their friends to join your community. They don't expect anything in return, but they enjoy being a connector, and a pioneer in your community, so do whatever it takes to make them feel that way.

Ensure that these people are the first to learn about your new products. You could, for example, send them your new products or a new delivery method to test. Give them any reason to talk about your product, and they will become your devoted ambassadors and evangelists, ready to defend your brand in the long run.

GTC is about what we can do together to build something great and that we then can be proud of !

Have you heard about special class of the Notioner community that has helped the company achieve new heights:

Notion Ambassadors.

These are the people who voluntarily create Notion-centered content on social channels and web pages across the world, attracting other users and developing multiple communities that the company leverages for growth.

Ben Lang, was one of their earliest ambassadors. His fan site stuck out so much to Camille and the Notion team, that they brought him on board where he’s currently Head of Community.

Creating a community takes time, consistent efforts, and commitment.

Keep an eye on community trends, highs and lows, and work to improve the member experience.

Depending on the type of community you want to build, this can take a variety of forms. It could start with purchasing a domain for your community website, establishing your presence on an existing forum, or even launching a Telegram group. It may also include a signup box, captcha, a spam control mechanism, a pre-authorization questionnaire, and so on. Include a logo or other branding marks to help people identify your community and what it stands for.

Last, but not least

Once you've completed tried & tested these steps, your community planning isn't finished. Strategies aren't something that can be created and delivered once. As you continue to learn about your community and its members, that slide deck, wiki, or document you created should be dusted off and expanded upon.

Even if you already have a community, you should continue to re-evaluate strategy elements as you grow — It's also important for you to play the role of chief change officer; if something doesn't work, move on to the next and the next until you find exactly what you've been looking for, or it will keep getting you closer and closer each day!

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