Smart agencies know that building a community requires research, insight and straight up hard work. Before that first tweet or Facebook post goes out, you (ideally) have developed a strategy for launching and maintaining the community around your product.
So how DO you build a killer community management plan and what goes into it? Here’s the Invoke approach:
1. Competitor Analysis. This process will help you start to understand your position in relation to other industry players. Who or what are you inspired by? What are the key elements of your product? And of course, who do you see as your main competitors?
From this, make a list of competitors and best in class examples (companies doing awesome things on social media, but who don’t necessarily belong to the same industry.) We often scope familiar names like Evernote, AirBnB and Etsy to profile successful startups. Do a quick survey of their social media presence and compile it into a spreadsheet (Google Docs ftw!) Then, from those findings, determine top three competitors, and top three best in class examples to look into on a deeper level. Look at content, voice, frequency of posts and any innovative campaigns.
2. Identify User Base. Who will be using your product? In some industries you might call them customers, or audience. In our incubation world, we prefer to think of them as users. If you’ve come this far, you almost certainly have a good idea of how you’re targeting users, whether it’s by age, location, gender or something else. But this is the time to verify that, and hone in on how they behave. What are their digital habits? What sort of content and voice do they tend to respond to? What turns them off? Again, looking at best in class examples is critical here.
3. Personality Development. Now that you understand who you’re targeting and where your product exists in relation to others, you can begin to craft your unique voice. We find this is helpful in a group brainstorm environment. Pose the open-ended statements “I am…” “I am not….” and fill in the blank with as many adjectives as you can think of. Other questions to ask: Where do I come from? What makes my product unique? What is my fight and who is my enemy?
Capture all the feedback and distill it into a document that clearly defines the voice of your product. This might include examples of the types of content your product would say – or never say. Make sure everyone signs off and agrees on the product personality!
4. Engagement and Content Strategy. You know who your product is, and you know who you’re trying to reach. Time to get tactical. Begin identifying influencers in the space (you’ll likely invite these people to participate in private beta prior to launch.) Outline short-term and long-term campaigns that will drive awareness and engagement. And don’t forget a content strategy! How often will you post and who will manage it? Will you have an editorial calendar? How will you reward power users?
5. Analysis and Measurement. What does success look like? What are your key performance indicators? How often will you report on these? What is your plan for when a strategy isn’t working?
Once you’ve plotted out all of these questions, package it up in a way that makes sense to you – we like a snazzy deck or streamlined Word document. Congratulations – this is your killer community management plan.
This is the process that we’ve found works for us, but we’d love to hear how you go about developing a new online community. What are your strategies for success or pitfalls to avoid?