12 steps to set up your own successful community

Blog  18 november 2016 12.00

 Building communities that are successful and drive value can be a challenge for many organizations. What tools are best for creating a community? What problems or challenges does one want to solve with a community? How do you know which communities are the most valuable to you?

Based on years of community building experience, I created The Community Canvas, an easy to follow 12-step outline to create a community for your company. The Community Canvas asks you the questions you need to answer to build a successful and engaged community. It also helps you to identify opportunities where communities could benefit you. 

If you would like to work through this canvas together for your company or project or have any questions, please contact me on anke@kubro.works or +31 6 27898584  

1 What are the external ambitions and priorities for your organization? 
 Every year most companies decide what they will be focusing on for the coming year. The lists of priorities are the ambitions articulated by the company’s vision for the year.
The focus can be on improving the connection between members and the brand, driving innovation with your clients, improving customer service, etc. Awareness of these ambitions and priorities can help you to identify opportunities where online communities could improve and help facilitate the journey to successfully achieving these goals. 

2 What are the internal ambitions and priorities for the organization? 
 Like the external goals, many companies have a focus on what they would like to change or improve inside the organization.
Internal priorities can include optimization of knowledge management, increasing the employee engagement etc. Becoming aware of both the internal and external priorities and ambitions can help you to priorities what will potentially have the most value for you and the organization.

3 What is the purpose of your community? 
 Translate the opportunities you found in step 1 and 2 into a description of a community including your ideas for its purpose. The purpose of a community should contribute to a users-group and their need or a communal interest.

4 Who will be your target audiences? 
 Who will benefit from your community? Most often this is not just one group, but two or more groups that all have something that they need and can contribute. 
5 What is necessary for each user-group to join and participate? 
 Define the ‘what’s in it for me’ statement for each target group. You will need this information for promotion of the community. This statement will strengthen the vision of your community. 
6 What are the activities in your community? 
 Writing down what activities you will facilitate or do in the community can help to identify what people are needed to help you realize this. Activities can be things like sharing of documents, pictures, Q&A etc. 
7 What resources do you need? 
 What tool can you use? Who will be the owner of the community? What budget do you need? Creating a clear view of the resources that you need, can help you in negotiations with your manager when you want to push your ideas to the next level. 
8 When is your community successful? 
 What are your quality goals? Quality goals can be the reduction of the amount of support calls to a service desk, or an increase in international co-creation and engagement etc. 
Secondly you might want to set some quantitative goals. These can be about the amount of views or individual users of the platform. Setting goals helps you to know when you are successful and provides you with information about the topics that could use improvement. 
9 Who can be your ambassador? 
 Whether your community is big or small, it will need ambassadors to help drive and promote it. Who are the external and internal influencers and promoters of your company? Who are your content generators? Create a list of all current and potential ambassadors. 
10 What’s in it for the ambassadors? 
  Like everyone, but especially in the working environment, people tent to do things that are of benefit to themselves or their own personal goals. Be aware of this when asking someone to help you. Think of how it could actually help this person in return with their goals. By creating a win-win situation you are more likely to be successful. 
11 What kind of training and support do you need? 
 Be aware of your target audience. What general awareness training do they need? What is their journey? How do the tools integrate into their lives? How can people report bugs or struggles? Etc. 
12 How are you going to promote your community? 
 People don’t automatically come to or stumble on your community. You need to inform and make people aware of the benefits to participate. Think about the channels you can use to reach your audience. What promotional materials do you need?
Promotion is also not a one-time thing. You need to embed it in your overall communication strategy so it keeps on top of mind of the people who it is relevant for.