You're ready to synthesize all the work you've done and think long-term strategy. Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for the work you've done so far! You've already laid the groundwork for a successful and thriving community.

Now is the time to take a look at all of the information, stories, discussions, and data you've collected. You'll need to synthesize everything into an overall community strategy. This can mean very different things to different communities.

Everyone is going to have their own set of goals to meet. Talk with your executive team about what numbers they are looking for from you and then strategize around those goals. In general, your long-term strategy should be centered around a few key areas, as outlined below. This is a very basic breakdown, and I'm suggesting some great questions to ask yourself at this critical juncture.

If you can answer these questions and create metrics to measure the success of the efforts you move forward with, you're officially a community badass. Let's be friends.

Content and community platform: 

  1. Do you need to maintain a blog? What kind of outreach can you do for fellow bloggers? What sorts of posts can you write regularly to keep your audience coming back?
  2. Where is your community reading content? Do you need a Twitter account? Facebook? Google+? It's good to have a diverse presence, but pick where to make yourself most available if you're just one person. Go to where most of your people already are if your resources are limited.

Online and offline events:

  1. Is your community ready for events, Google Hangouts, or offline meet ups?
  2. Can you pick out brand ambassadors to help spread your message? If so, identify these people (you may have already done so in your surveys-- that's a wonderful place to start). Then send 'em some swag and ask them to spread the word.

Product improvements:

  1. What product improvements can you make now that will make joining the community seamless in the future?
  2. What did you learn about people's motivations that you can apply to the product? Is gamification going to work for your community? Or are people just there to share? 
  3. How is your on-boarding flow? Can you make it better?
  4. How can you make referrals a part of your product? This is ESSENTIAL.
  5. Is there data you're missing? Your ultimate goal should be automating data collection, so get the essentials from your users right up front. If you're missing chunks of important information about your userbase/community, work with your product team to put touch points into the product to gather this data from users.

I won't go over how you can set customer service goals at this point, since I don't personally believe that should ever be the principle goal of a community, but it's a great idea to reach out to your customer service folks to let them know what you've learned and to create a channel to continue communication. 

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