Is your community stuck? Or, worse, is it stuck and you don’t even know it?
Richard Millington’s Super Forum breakout session was about just that - figuring out if your community is stuck and, if so, how to successfully move on.
Before even strategizing about how to unstick yourself, according to Richard, it’s important to look at how you, as a community builder, spend your time. For some people, community management is full time; but for others, it’s a duty wrapped into another job. Regardless, Richard’s research found that most community managers’ time tends to break down this way:
Why is it important to break down your duties and see how much time you’re spending on each task? Richard says you’re probably wasting time on something that isn’t productive, or not spending enough time on items that move the needle.
You can tell that you’re wasting time somewhere if your growth and engagement are flatlined, your salary and budget are the same, you’re burnt out, or nothing seems to move the needle in the right direction.
When you analyze how you spend your time, don’t just look at it broadly in the chunks that Richard mentioned. Look deeper at the individual tasks you do repeatedly. Everyone has the same amount of time in the day, but, we divide our time into smaller and smaller chunks - expecting bigger and bigger results. That’s what leads so many people to get stuck.
These days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by information. By and large, community professionals go to so many events, read tons of blogs and are inundated by great ideas - and then they want to apply everything they learned to their community.
But the sad truth is - that’s not possible. And it’s what got you stuck in the first place. By trying to do everything, you’ve taken the amount of time you have in each day, and broken it into smaller and smaller chunks, each chunk less efficient than the last one.
So, what does a successful community look like? Here’s the trick: they don’t do everything. They cut down on emails and endless meetings. They found what works and only do those few things.
Richard suggests hiring someone with a PhD in statistics to do a multiple regression analysis to really dig into your community’s trends to see what works and what doesn’t work.
If you don’t have the budget to hire help (which Richard said isn’t as expensive as you would think) you can use Excel or Google Sheets to identify possible relationships (use =correl). By doing this work you’ll learn where to spend your time.
Once you’ve found areas to free up your time, assess your tactics with these three things in mind: reach (how many people does each tactic impact), depth (how far into the community does your tactic effect) and length (is its impact long or short). By looking at each tactic this way, you can identify the big wins you need to find.
Maybe you’ll have to make some big changes that members and your organization will notice. But it could be as simple as doing an interview instead of a webinar or creating a VIP volunteer program to help members’ questions get answered.
So now, ask yourself, if you had unlimited time but could only spend it on one activity, what would it be? Forget about the small optimizations - by actually looking at your community’s data and correctly analyzing it, you can find the big wins.