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 training programs.
As a result, I just made up a lot of my work as I went, as I’m sure many of you have done in your work as well. I’d host events, create content, message members, launch social channels, post on the blog, and on and on I went just creating stuff without knowing whether or not I was on the right track.
To make a long story short, it didn’t work. With no clear goals and zero guidance on what to do, I can’t imagine how we expected anything other than failure. Community, like any other business practice, needs to have a cohesive strategy to be successful.
If you’re starting in the community industry today, you have it much better than I did when I first started. There are more organizations working to support community professionals than ever before, and there are programs like the CMX Fundamentals of Community Strategy Training to help guide you in your work. Thousands of community builders have leveraged CMX training to learn how to launch, scale and measure successful community programs.
But training programs are an investment of time and money, and you shouldn’t sign up unless you know you can take full advantage. So how do you know if community management training is right for you?
Here are a few signs that training is worth the investment:
1. You’re struggling to put a plan in place.
Many any 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 the strategy piece. This difficulty arises mostly because, until recently, there weren’t any models or examples for what a comprehensive community strategy should look like.
This is the number one reason our students enroll in community strategy training. They love doing the community work; they just don’t know how to make sure the work is tied to a cohesive strategic plan that their business will be bought 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?
There are so many things you could do for your community. To figure out which ones to focus on, you need to have a plan.
To map out a community strategy, we use the CMX Community Strategy Canvas. Throughout the training program, students are taught each of the elements of this canvas in depth, using other community case studies and our frameworks as a guide.
2. You can’t yet define the business value of your community.
It’s incredibly common for a business to hire a community professional without truly understanding the value they expect from the community. They want to build a community because they know it can make their business better, but they expect YOU to be able to tell them exactly how.
Every community professional at some point finds themselves in this 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 SPACE Model for measuring the value of community, and give you the tools to tackle this problem now.
3. You’re unsure how to plan content that forms a community.
Every community is different, but they all form in similar patterns. By understanding how someone grows to feel a sense of community, you can then plan how every piece of content you create is going to engender that feeling.
At the beginning of this post, I spoke about how I just started creating content and hosting events without really knowing why or what it was all adding up to. A lot of community professionals are still doing that. They’re just “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 community engagement 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 targets each kind of member and helps them 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 a singular thing. You can measure the effectiveness of your content, the health of your community, the business value your community adds, and each one of those areas can have 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 are not yet familiar with community management standards and language.
As members of an industry, it’s incredibly important that we’re able 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.
Think about any other industry like sales, marketing, product, web development… they all have common language and models that guide their work. Having common language helps practitioners talk to each other, and 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.
Of course, CMX is just one place where you can find this kind of language and these standards — but thousands of community professionals have taken this 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 seeking out 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 it into the kind of community you can be proud to be a member of.