Generally speaking, building a brand community serves two entities: its members and the business or organization, and whatever you build needs to provide value for both. In order to prove the value of your community, you need to begin by determining what the value or purpose of your community is.
At CMX, we have developed the Three Level Strategy Framework. This framework breaks down the process into three levels: Business level strategy, Community level strategy, and Tactical level strategy. As a community manager, you need to always think about how you are going to prove the value of the work you are doing. And each strategy level will come with its own set of metrics and reports.
Let's break it down by each level.
Business level strategy is the first fundamental when we talk about branded communities. Why does this come before anything else? Because you are building community for an organization, and that means you have to understand the goals of the organization in order to create clear value.
You have to be able to answer the question: Why does community matter to this organization? If you don’t have business alignment, it will be nearly impossible to get internal buy-in.
Using the SPACES Model, we are able to determine which business goal your community will be driving value towards.
Once we know what overall business value we are going to drive with the community (aka, have chosen a letter from the SPACES model), we can start planning out what content and programming needs to be put in place so you can achieve your business goal.
Content provides resources, and/or education to your members to read and digest on their own time. Content is typically one-way engagement, meaning you deliver it to your audience, and they engage with it on their own.Some examples:
Synchronous programs are ones in which members connect in real time. These programs can take many shapes, but the key is that the conversation is happening live. Synchronous programming typically includes events, both in person and virtual.
Asynchronous ProgramsAsynchronous programs are ones in which members can connect, typically online, and don’t expect an answer immediately. These programs often take shape in forums and online groups.
A large part of managing a community is tracking success and proving the value of the work you are doing. At the business level strategy, we choose metrics that prove that we are providing value to the business (and our letter in the SPACES Model). At the community level, we need to determine the metrics to track in order to prove the success of each program. These often go hand in hand with your business level metrics.
Your overall business goal is Acquisition, and your business level metric that you are tracking and reporting on is the amount of Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) influenced. One of your community programs is a community-led events program, where advocates from your community volunteer their time to host events on your organization's behalf. The success metrics you track should focus on how this program is contributing to the business metric. Such as, how many people who attend your events become customers, how many sales are influenced by your events, which chapters and event topics drive the most sales.
The tactical level strategy is about the day-to-day work that goes into making your above programs successful. This is where community moderation and engagement comes in. What are the actions that you (and your community team) will take in order to make your programs successful?
Every community program needs to have guidelines. Determining your community’s guidelines is vital to its survival. With no rulebook in place, trust can’t be cultivated between a community and its members. And with no trust comes no loyalty.
Guidelines in your asynchronous programs set the expectations for members, both for how you want them to interact in the space, and how they can expect to be interacted with. With guidelines come consequences, so be sure to include what happens when a member violates the guidelines.
Example: CMX Slack Community Guidelines:
As in the business and community level strategies, there are metrics in the tactical level as well. These metrics tell the community manager if the program is successful and providing value for members.
Want to get more hands on with your business strategy and proving the value of your community? Check out the Community MBA course on CMX Academy. This course is perfect for beginner to intermediate level community and marketing professionals, and for business leaders who want to better understand how community can help accelerate the growth of their business.
After taking this course you’ll have a deeper understanding of how community fits into your business, key business outcomes community can drive, how to design a hyper-focused community strategy, and how to set up systems for tracking core metrics and outcomes.
The lessons and models shared in this course are based on months of research conducted with companies who have successfully scaled their community strategies, as well as David Spinks’ 12+ years of leading community teams and advising businesses of all sizes on their community strategy.
Community is the future of business, and this course is the foundation you’ll need to be positioned for success.