When you get caught in the weeds of making a decision about software, you can overlook some crucial details - who's going to be driving this? And what will your path be exactly?
We spend a ton of time on here talking about community platforms - what they are, where they're headed, and how to choose one. However, on top of choosing the best platform for your association, you need to have an A-team behind the scenes to keep your growing community vibrant and on track. That's because "an online community is only as good as the people who fuel it."
Having all of your staff members working off of the same playbook is the only way to ensure a cohesive engagement strategy. But beyond that - the content of the playbook and the quality of the staff will determine if that strategy is a true engagement machine, or a well-meaning yet ineffective force.The more the merrier
In most organizations, there is one person that is at the helm of community management and thus most visible throughout the site. And while clear and apparent leadership is helpful, there should not just be one sole person from your association that is vocal.
If you want members to feel like they have a stake in something greater than themselves, then they need the feeling that they are engaging with several people in several parts of your association - not just one representative. You need to make sure that your staff is educated and excited about this community, and it's your job to bring them on board!
Community feeds off of the chemistry of your staff
This connects directly to the previous paragraph. Building a community full of passion and culture is obviously easy to do if your association is full of passion and culture. The chemistry and attitudes of your staff will spill over into the community.
We need to take into account the fact that you are responsible for setting the tone of this group of people. And while they may be spread out around the world, they should all be able to find commonalities and interests in your community, and that is thanks to a strategically placed, well-trained staff.
Sourcing a community is an ongoing process
It's not going to be all engagement and action 24/7. Association leadership needs to provide the resources, culture, and ongoing support for their staff to take off with their own torches and develop an organic style of engagement throughout the association.
As staffers and members come and go over the years, so too the style of engagement may change. This is to be expected - just make sure to stay focused on the best and brightest people and opportunities. You absolutely must stay educated and on top of the new, imaginative ways others are finding to keep their communities excited and engaged. Your site does not exist in a vacuum - it is constantly being shaped by members expectations, which are being pulled from countless other media platforms.
Establishing your strategy for engagement in your association and community is just the first step. You will need a detailed layout of who is responsible for executing what, and when - and who is going to be responsible for reviewing and submitting certain deliverables and their corresponding metrics. By harnessing the power of imaginative, passionate people, your community and association stand the best chance for maximum impact and achieving whatever it is your core purpose may be.