26 May 2009

Holistic Community Strategy

14 05 2009 - Most organizations do not have a comprehensive community strategy in place. In most cases, community strategy is actually a set of tactics that individual departments are engaging in based on product or market segments.

While this grass roots approach is where many organizations have to start, it is not a sustainable approach. The primary issue is one of valuing the activities, content and relationships of the community in the context of the host organization. Said another way, most organizations have no idea how to evaluate the cost of online community and social media activities, or how to asses the value of these activities because they haven't been internalized in to the organization's cultural, financial and operational value systems.

I've started to refer to a more comprehensive approach to community development as "Holistic Community Strategy". This concept builds on the techniques I outlined in the post "How to Develop a Community Strategy"

In the Holistic Community Strategy framework, I see the following as the three most important contexts:

1. Host Organization (a.k.a. "The Business")
In order to understand value, the host organization has to have a series of internal conversations at a senior level and across most (if not all departments) about:
• its intention in engaging the community;
• the potential value the organization hopes to create for itself and its customers;
• the risk associated with engaging;
• the overhead, including headcount, budgets and staff time;
• the level of readyness to participate, and the required culture change to be successful

2. Customers (a.k.a. "The Members")
Customers (potential / current members) should be engaged in the development of community features, programs and policy. I cover techniques to do this in the post "How to Develop a Community Strategy".

3. Community Ecosystem
As I mentioned before, most community strategies tend to focus on the hosted properties of the organization. The reality is that there is an ever expanding universe of online touchpoints that an organization's community members are participating in. An "Ecosystem audit" should be conducting as part of a strategy development (or strategy course correction) exercise in order to discover where the centers or activity are, and who the most vocal and active participants are.
I gave the following presentation at the Community 2.0 conference this week, that provides an initial sketch of the framework. I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions.

Source: onlinecommunityreport

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