As community managers rise in the ranks, we're often tasked with strategic planning for our entire team. This is our opportunity to align the greater organization around community goals while demonstrating how community initiatives reinforce business goals.

Where to start? Before getting overwhelmed with the large task at hand, take a step back. You have so many more resources at your disposal than you likely realize.

1. Clear Purpose

What is your community meant to accomplish? Community’s purposes vary from company to company: to provide support, to provide knowledge or resources, to reinforce values, etc. Defining your purpose upfront, particularly in relationship with your organization’s vision helps with the next step -- setting goals.

2. Actionable, Measurable Goals

With your purpose in mind, what can you accomplish this year that will further that aim? Perhaps it’s a support center or a community forum. Maybe it’s an education program or a content series. Or, maybe it’s a set of community features. And then, what are the metrics that would indicate success for each initiative? Consider this both in terms of the initiative itself as well as within the context of greater business goals, such as increase in sales, etc.

Whatever it is, map it out according to specific time periods. Often, it’s helpful outline these goals according to the fiscal year: Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4. Be sure to be realistic as to what can be accomplished within a given period of time. Examples include:

  • Increase community referrals by 20% by end of Q2

  • Decrease churn by 15% in Q1

  • Increase monthly sign-ups as a direct result of community efforts by 10% in Q1

3. Company Alignment

You might be in charge of community for your company, but community is everyone’s job. Truly effective community roadmaps include the entire team. Make sure that you’re able to articulate to each team (marketing, development, account management, sales, etc.) how your roadmap supports their own team’s objectives and larger company goals.

This makes asking for help much easier -- surely you’re not going to build and design that community forum yourself! When creating your roadmap, be very clear on what resources you have at your disposal, what you’ll need from other teams, and what you’ll need to provide to other teams. Will you need help from design and development? What about marketing or operations? How will your roadmap impact BD or support?

After you’ve determined purpose, set goals, and have ensured that your roadmap aligns with company goals, you’re ready to break these down into tactics. Make your tactics specific and have a clear process in place for assigning them to their relevant team member. The more clear you can be when setting expectations and responsibilities, the better. If you’d like more information on how to dive into tactics and execution, feel free to reach out, I’d love to chat.

About the Author:

Sarah Judd Welch is the Founder // Head of Community Design + BD at Loyal where she designs communities for startups, brands, and Fortune 100s. Find her on Twitter at @sjw.

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