You've got the strategy, now its time to make it work

Written by Julia T. on 2019.10.11.

Managing your digital community platform

Building a digital community, requires a framework and crucial other steps to be in place first. 

Once you have mastered a digital footprint and have capabilities in place including a strategy and a community hook, it’s time for the next steps. 

As a method and guide for building, managing and operating an external community, we developed the Agile Loop model. The model enables community builders and operators to start shaping their community and respond quickly and flexible to changing framework conditions. It marks the interactive development that goes through a community, taking into account that a community evolves constantly throughout the course of its existence. 

Step 1: Establish basic Frameworks

These are the basic frameworks that need to be laid out to start building a community.

  • Management input - From the beginning management needs to be aware and willing to invest in both the building and managing of a digital community
  • Nominate a sponsor - There should be a dedicated management leader, who acts as a community and management sponsor
  • Human Resources: This requires the community building and management to be a core focus with the hiring of key digital skills and capabilities for it
  • Budget: Community building and community management also requires a budget to cover internal and external costs. This budget needs to be approved from the beginning.The actual amount and distribution of the budget are calculated as part of the business case. Keep in mind, unless you have a ready-to-sell and in-high-demand- product that goes with your community: it is an investment case at first. 
  • Cultural Aspect: Successful community management is based on conversational communication and real-time interaction. Binding groups to a company requires a fast and transparent communication set up. Similarly, a community needs information and resources from different departments of a company. Interdisciplinary and cooperative work is needed, so that the digital and dialogue-oriented nature of communication management is promoted and installed properly

Step 2: Market analysis - Looking at which successful communities exist

This step includes searching for existing communities on the market, in particular looking at their offers, thematic focus and success factors. The result of this research provides an overview of existing communities on the market as well as their offers and their added value for the members. It helps to look beyond the confines of one's own business and offers helpful impulses and best practices to make your own community successful because chances are high that someone, somewhere has already started a similar community or brought a community like yours to a successful stage. 

Step 3: Target groups

Whether there are products and services in the offline or online world, it is all about the audience, their needs and expectations have to be met. Therefore a detailed description of the target group is indispensable for building and managing an external community.

The more precise this analysis is, then the more accurately their needs can be identified and met. 

Step 4: Strategy

The strategy is the conceptual framework for building a community.The main cornerstones are: value proposition (performance description of a community), goals of a community, definition of functional, technical, organisational requirements, cost structure and business case.The strategy is essential because it determines the direction and provides instructions for setting up and managing a community. It also provides guidance to all involved and shows what they need to focus on. It also forms the basis for success measurement. 

Step 5: Action planning

Measures serve to successfully implement the chosen communities strategy. The community manager derives concrete actions from the cornerstones of the strategy. What campaigns are you planning? What incentives are you launching? What events are you betting on? What kind of content will you be producing? When and how will you start delivering content, campaigns, events, products or services? Who are you partnering with? The success of the respective measures should be regularly checked to make any adjustments. A detailed action plan facilitates the targeted development and management of a community. 

Step 6: Lifecycle and ongoing operation.

With the last step, the implementation phase begins, and the focus turns to ensuring the lasting success of the community through life-cycles. The measures are set on a timeline and it can be seen that the community structure and community management closely intermesh. Different cycles can be distinguished that all the digital communities go through: The founding cycle, the greeting cycle, the growth cycle and the maturity cycle.

BUT keep in mind: Communities only live as long as they manage to provide relevant and attractive information and services to their members. Each cycle forms a self-contained cycle and the activities in each cycle adapt to the needs of the members. Ultimately the more interactive and engaging a community is, the longer it can stay alive.

Want more help with implementing this strategy and building a digital community?Get in touch.