It was almost a decade ago that I was hired for my first community management job. At the time, we didn’t have a strong grasp on the meaning of “community management.” There were no standards for how to do this work because it was so new. There was little knowledge sharing, there were no huge events, and definitely no community management training programs.
As a result, I just made up a lot of my work as I went. I’d host events, create content, message members, and just keep creating stuff without knowing whether or not I was on the right track.
Long story short, it didn’t work. With no clear goals, I can’t imagine how I expected anything other than failure. Community, like any other business practice, needs a cohesive strategy to be successful.
If you’re just starting in community management, you ‘re in a better place than I was. Today, there are more organizations that support community professionals than ever before. There are also more community management training programs, like CMX Academy.
But training is an investment of time and money, and you shouldn’t sign up unless it’s right for you. Here’s a few signs that community management training is worth the investment:
1. You’re struggling to put a plan in place.
Many community professionals struggle with putting a strategic plan in place.
Whether you’re brand new to the community industry or you’ve been in it for several years, it’s not uncommon to have a hard time with strategy. Until recently, there weren’t any models or examples for a comprehensive community strategy.
This is the number one reason our students enroll in community management training. They love doing community work. They just don’t know how to tie the work into a cohesive strategic plan that their business will buy into.
- How does the community tie to business goals?
- How do you plan out content strategically?
- What metrics should you be tracking?
- How do you define your brand voice and community values?
To map out a community strategy, we use the CMX Community Strategy Canvas. Throughout the training program, students work through each of the elements of this canvas in depth. We also share plenty of real-life community case studies as a guide.
2. You can’t define the business value of your community.
It’s incredibly common for a business to hire a community professional without understanding the value of community. They want to build a community because they know it can make their business better, but they expect YOU to tell them exactly how.
Every community professional at some point finds themselves in a situation where they have to prove their worth. Maybe it’s to get buy-in for a project; maybe it’s to save their job.
Proving the value of community isn’t something you can do retroactively. It’s something you need to plan for from day one. If you can’t explain clearly how your community is driving business value, that’s a big red flag. Getting trained in community strategy will teach you the SPACES Model for measuring the value of community, and give you the tools to tackle this problem now.
3. You’re not sure how to create a community content strategy.
Every community is different, but they all form in similar patterns. By understanding how someone comes to feel a sense of community, you can plan every piece of content to engender that feeling.
At the beginning of this post, I spoke about how I was creating content and hosting events without really knowing what it all added up to. A lot of community professionals are still doing that. They’re “engaging,” but they have no idea how all the content works together as part of a cohesive strategy. They’re not tracking their content and optimizing it for success.
We train our students on the CMX Social Identity Cycle, which helps them understand how communities form. Once you understand the phases of community development, you’ll be able to create content and programming that helps members move through the process.
Every piece of content you create will have a purpose.
4. You aren’t measuring anything. Or you’re measuring everything.
Even the most experienced community professionals struggle to measure their community’s success. But it’s absolutely critical to take a data-driven approach to community development. Knowing which metrics to track, how to track them, and what to do with that data can feel overwhelming. With proper training, you’ll learn how to break down measurement into a simple process.
Measurement isn’t singular. You can measure the effectiveness of your content, the health of your community, or the business value of your community. Each one of those layers can add a great deal of depth.
Without measurement, you have no idea if the work you’re doing is paying off, and it will be impossible to make data-driven decisions. In today’s businesses, it’s expected that you’ll be able to measure your work and use data to improve your efficiency. If you aren’t doing that, community management training can help.
5. You’re not familiar with industry standards and best practices.
As members of an industry, it’s incredibly important to communicate effectively with each other. That means we need to have common language. That way, when we refer to a concept, everyone is on the same page about what we’re talking about.
Most industries have common language and models that guide their work. Having common language helps practitioners talk to each other. It also helps other teams and stakeholders become familiar with industry standards. Bosses know what to ask for. Hiring managers know what to look for. It helps everyone get on the same page, so they can remove roadblocks that are preventing you from building the best possible community you can build.
Thousands of community professionals have taken CMX’s training program. That means thousands of people are able to use common language and have consistent standards for what they’re putting into their community strategy. This will help you better communicate with your peers and your team when discussing community strategy.
If any of these signs sound familiar to you, you might consider a community management training course. No matter what stage of growth your community is in, a little training will go a long way towards giving you a firm foundation in how to manage and build the kind of community you can be proud to be a member of.