The key factor that differentiates a successful community project from one that falls flat is strategy. Without a strategy in place, your community project may well be a lovely thing, but it won’t necessarily make your business stronger or more profitable.
A successful community project is one that is not only deep, valuable, and resonant, but also fulfills your business objectives. Your goal might be to grow your audience, build your list, deepen your connections with peers or influencers, get more clients, or find seed members for a new membership community, and your community project needs to be engineered to make this happen.
There are three elements to take into consideration when you’re crafting your community project strategy:
1) Your Business
The first, and most important, element that you need to think about is yourself. You need to have a clear objective for running your project – think about what you would like the project to do for your business, and why you want to run it. What goal would you like your project to achieve? As with any goal, knowing your ‘why’ for running a community project will make you much more likely to achieve it, and quantify your success. Your theme, participants, and format can then be structured accordingly.
2) Your Participants
Your project has to feel important and resonant to the people you ask to submit content to your project. They have to be excited to be involved and enthusiastic about the project as a whole. If they are totally on board with your concept then they are far more likely to contribute their best work (and get it in on time), as well as sharing the project and talking about with their audiences. Also, if you choose your participants wisely based on your overall strategy, then they are far more likely to benefit from being a part of the project as well. Remember, this is a community project you’re running – it’s not just about you!
3) Your Audience
Finally, you need to think about the audience for the project. This includes not only your existing audience, but the audiences of your participants, and the wider audience you’re hoping to attract. Who do you want to be in that audience? Who do you want to benefit from this project? This element loops back to the first as you consider the people you need to meet your own business objectives. For example, if you’re hoping to attract more clients, think about who your ideal client is, and what sort of project will speak to them directly.
Strategy is non-negotiable
If you want to run a successful community project for your business, then you need to be thinking strategically about it, in exactly the same way as you do when considering your outreach strategy, or your content strategy.
I see so many people trying to run community projects and failing, just because they haven’t put the necessary thought into it upfront. Don’t let this be you!