Community Building: Building out Your Strategy

May 21, 2023

This is part 3 of a series on what it looks like to incorporate social & emotional skills and practices into a community strategy that empowers community members and leaders and enables everyone to meet their goals in a successful and meaningful way.

In part 1, I touched on the self-determination theory and the three universal needs of autonomy, belongingness, and competency, and how this relates to community building.

In part 2, I introduced the reflect & research phase of community building, which includes identifying your purpose and listening to your members.

Now I’ll go into the next phase: actually building out your community strategy with tactics, activities, programs, and processes.

Now that you’ve identified a purpose for your community and know a little bit more about your members and their needs and desires, you can get started on building out your actual strategy.

But how do you decide where to begin? In a business setting, you can identify your priority areas based on the strategic goals for the year or quarter, the most urgent needs, or which team is funding the investment.

Based on your member feedback, community goals, and most urgent needs, what are some clear next steps that you can take?

Decide on the What

Decide on which tactics, activities, or programs you’d like to focus on. This will depend largely on your budget and available resources. Remember, whichever tactics or programs you decide on, they should help members achieve at least one or more of the ABCs of community building:

  • Autonomy - the ability to make one’s own decisions

  • Belongingness - feeling connected to others

  • Competency - able to achieve one’s goals, while also being challenged and experiencing growth

Here are a few examples:

In business:

  • A monthly/quarterly net promoter score (NPS) survey or other type of survey

  • Programs (mentor programs, loyalty programs, referral programs, e-learning/education program)

  • Events (webinars, online meetups, special community chats with your product team & customers)

  • Platforms/Channels (forum, newsletter, community platform, online group, social media channels)

In sports:

  • A daily check-in before or after practice & games

  • Team building activities

  • Mentor/buddy program

Volunteer/nonprofit community:

  • Regular surveys

  • Special events for volunteers and members

  • Meetup or online groups

  • Education/resources

Take some time to review your member feedback and your overarching community and organizational goals. Based on this information (and your available resources), what are one or two tactics from the examples above that you’d like to try?

Remember: it’s okay to start small! It can be tempting to want to do all of the examples listed, but it’s totally fine and probably best to just start with one or two tactics in the beginning.

Then Tackle the Rest (When, Where, How, Who, and Why)

Once you have your “what”, then you can dive into the details of how to bring those tactics to life – the when, where, how, who, and why.

For example, say you want to start an online forum for your community. You’ll need to identify:


  • What is the goal or purpose of this tactic?

  • What is logistically needed to get this off the ground? (Think budget, tech stack, content/design, stakeholder approval, engineering support, etc.)

  • What are some potential blockers?


  • How often will you post or engage within the forum?

  • How will you communicate the forum to your members and incentivize them to use it?

  • What will they get out of it?

  • How and when will you measure and define success? (Make sure to set a few KPIs, report monthly/quarterly, and adjust as needed)


  • Who will be owning the moderation, community engagement, and content?


  • Where will the forum be hosted/live?


  • When will we post/engage?

  • How often will we report on KPIs?

As you can see, a lot goes into even just one tactic - so again, totally okay to start small! With community, less is more. Doing fewer things but with a great amount of depth and attention can bring so much more value to your members than doing a multitude of tactics with minimal attention and effort.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that community building and management is never done! It’s not a “set it and forget it” thing - it’s utterly important to keep testing new things, evaluating the success of your tactics and programs, and most of all, listening to your members. If what you’re doing is not resonating with your community, you’ll soon find that you won’t have one.

Keep the people in mind over everything, and you’ll find success.

Stay tuned for part 4, where I’ll touch on some common challenges you may encounter when building out your community and some ideas for solutions.

Thanks for reading!