Having a community and being a community guide are two totally separate things.
Having a community is having the property, having the people, having the connections, and all the other tactical pieces of a community.
Being a community guide is a mindset, a process, a vision drive to see people guided to something more.
My challenge to you here is to fully embrace the role of a guide (and not just a host or admin). The most successful communities are the ones where the leader(s) take on the role of a guide and work to steward their community down a path and toward a goal that betters the member. Let’s look at some ingredients to what makes someone a great community guide.
Personal Commitment - it starts with a commitment to adopting this role and making it part of who you are and all that you do.
Define a Path - guides have a path for where they are taking people and they share that guide with their community to rally around.
Create Resources - you need resources that help show people the path you are guiding them down so it’s not abstract.
Build Steps - you guide people to their next step and don’t overwhelm them with the full picture and the big end goal.
Equip Others - strong communities that guide people have equipped others in the community to become guides to others (it should not be all on you).
Demand Simplicity - guides help make things simple… again, you don’t want to overwhelm people with the big end goal… just guide them one simple step at a time.
Measure the Journey - there are so many things you can measure today and our tendency is to focus on things like revenue… guides also focus on guidance progress.
Keep it Fresh - there’s no silver bullet for guiding members - keep a constant rhythm of challenging what you have and how could do things better/differently.
Listen Well - strong community guides have a knack to listen well to their community (and their needs) to architect new solutions to the deeper needs.
Stay Innovative - the needs drive the innovation - guidance should be an innovative response to the needs of your community.
Automate - you can’t automate everything but many things you can - find the things (like drip campaigns) to help guide your community.
I could spend a ton of time here talking about your role as a guide and ways to bring that to life. This is a journey for you and you never really achieve the end… but that’s good. You’re constantly working to create a better experience for your community. Guiding people takes time but the results are significant.
The big challenge… think less about what you are trying to “sell” or deliver and focus on how to guide your community to the shared end goal. The rest will fall into place.
Cause Machine Solutions
You are the guide… but Cause Machine is here to set you up for success. The Cause Machine platform is designed to help guide members through various experiences and continue guiding them into greater community engagement. We believe the journey is far greater than the single touch point. Our goal is to see your members have a great experience at every turn and throughout their entire journey. Schedule a demo today!
So what’s a Focus Rhythm?
Basically… it’s the natural rhythm of your organization and your cycles. For example, some organizations have an annual event that would have a one-year-long Focus Rhythm. Other organizations might have a weekly gathering that gives you a weekly Focus Rhythm. There is something in your organization that gives you a natural (or adopted) Focus Rhythm. I want to spend some time talking about what to do with these.
I find that most organizations place 90% of their energy toward their #1 Focus Rhythm. This often leaves a great opportunity in another Focus Rhythm stride.
Before we dive into how to manage and leverage these, I want to challenge all of us to identify our natural rhythm and to explore how else we could engage our audience. Just because we have a rhythm doesn’t mean it’s the best rhythm or it can’t change.
The first big thing to tackle here is just knowing your rhythm. I’ve seen it most common where there is a primary rhythm and then a few secondary rhythms. But rarely is there a competing primary rhythm. Be honest with yourself here. There’s a temptation to want to fight this and be something you’re not. For example, most weekly rhythm organizations don’t have strong long-range cycles of engagement (or intentional pathways of engagement). That’s okay… we just need to know our baseline here.
You could spend some time mapping out all of the things you do in your natural rhythm, but here I want to focus on what other opportunities you have. The goal here is to find a presence where you may not be actively engaging. For example, an annual conference might have great engagement once a year but are there opportunities for monthly engagement and having a new rhythm for more ongoing engagement? Or, for weekly rhythms, is there an opportunity for quarterly focuses or annual themes?
This might not be easy. Most organizations have an engine around their primary Focus Rhythm so building something else takes effort. May I encourage you to think about beta testing? Get out and try seeing what other rhythms might work with your community. You might stumble on finding a huge need from your community and untapped potential.
Cause Machine Solutions
The Cause Machine platform allows you to engage in multiple engagement rhythms and the opportunity to try others. The foundation here is your strategy… Cause Machine is a means to help you bring your vision and strategy to life… no matter your Focus Rhythm. Schedule a demo today!
So what’s the difference between digital delivery and digital engagement? It’s huge!
I sat in a conference several months back with some leading organizations sharing their digital strategy. The ideas were great but it continues to be impressed upon me that there is a critical difference between delivery and engagement. And from all of those presentations… I heard 100% delivery in the world of digital.
Okay, so partially, that’s to be expected. The digital space is largely a place to “delivery” or pushes the content/resources you have available. And we most commonly think of engagement as being more in person and not in the digital space.
I would offer the foundation that digital should always lead to interpersonal in-person connections… but we’ll save that for another discussion.
Most digital strategies look like this:
Most digital strategies do NOT look like:
Guiding people down a path
Connecting people with each other
Being responsive to the needs of others
Making great connections
People forming groups
People moving from digital to interpersonal in-person connections
So this is where you have a choice. Do you want to be all about running a digital delivery strategy or a digital engagement strategy. And yes, it’s a choice. Digital engagement is going to take more work but you’re also going to see greater results. Here are some building blocks to help you start down this path.
Define your Difference - start by defining what you mean by both digital delivery and digital engagement. It’s good to have both and even if you’re great at engagement, you still need the delivery part. Just don’t leave off the engagement!
Build a Path - create a path for where you are leading people and how you are guiding them there. The path will help you (and your community) to see the direction forward.
Drive to Connections - the best way to wrap your mind around digital engagement is to think about personal connections. What connections would you like to see people make and then reverse engineer how to get there.
Try Things - there’s no silver bullet for what digital engagement looks like and it’s often very different per each organization. Dream up a few things and give them a try.
I’ll close with this. I truly believe you have a duty, stewardship, and responsibility to help nurture and engage your audience (with you and with each other). May I challenge you to think well beyond the realm of just digital delivery. It’s work but the rewards are amazing.
Cause Machine Solutions
The Cause Machine platform is built on a philosophy of digital engagement and a drive to see each community moving members from online connections to in-person connections. While we love the benefits of what technology can bring to our lives… we believe nothing can bring more life to us as humans than connecting with each other. That’s why we’ve built every piece of this platform with that goal in mind. Schedule a demo today!
So what is a nurturing pathway? I define a Nurturing Pathway as the journey you are guiding someone through to help nurture them around your vision. When you think of nurturing, you think of caring and stewarding someone as they become a better person. You think of a mother with a newborn. You think of a father caring for a child who was hurt. You think of a teacher training and equipping their students.
In a digital environment, a Nurturing Pathway is similar in its feel but different in how it’s executed. You are looking for ways that you are guiding people to their next step and helping to see them grow. A Nurturing Pathway is an internal strategy to meet people where they are and help guide them to what’s next.
I have unpacked the concept of a Member Pathway in other areas… this is different. A Member Pathway is how you are guiding someone through the stages of becoming a member and the various membership maturity stages. A Nurturing Pathway sits right on top of the Member Pathway but this specifically looks at how you are caring for them at each stage… or nurturing them. Another way to look at this is a Member Pathway is how you are moving someone to deeper engagement and through your various tiers. A Nurturing Pathway is about the development of the person and who they are becoming.
Let’s spend some time unpacking what this looks like.
Think Coffee Shop - I believe one of the best ways to get your mind around what true nurturing looks like is to put yourself at a coffee shop across the table from a person at this stage and think about what you would talk about with them. Map that out and then explore how to leverage technology to help bring that to life.
Drip Campaigns - You are going to have key triggers of activity that can launch specific communication series. Drip campaigns are excellent ways to nurture someone who has just made a decision. Remember that every decision has some level of doubt in it so you’re working to help remove someone’s doubt while helping them know exactly what comes next.
Picture of Success - Build a picture of success… not about your success but their success. This is a time to paint a picture of exactly what you hope success looks like in their life and on their journey. This helps you build a baseline and goal as you consider how you are nurturing this person.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes - Take time to put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would want to be nurtured, guided, spoken to, resourced, and encouraged. Think about frequency, tone, collateral, personalization, and quality. You’re not doing something to someone… you’re doing something for them.
You don’t have to spend a ton of time building your Nurturing Pathway, but it’s still very important… especially to help frame our strategies around the betterment of our people. Take time to map out with your team a simple Nurturing Pathway and continue to build on it.
Cause Machine Solutions
Cause Machine is designed to help guide people to greater engagement within a private community. The platform helps you implement your Nurturing Pathway and helps automate a number of ways for people to be cared for well in a community. Schedule a demo today!
So here’s my challenge to you… to divide in your mind the difference between content distribution and community engagement. More often than not, we call the things that are really digital distribution digital engagement. But they aren’t! This is why it’s good to differentiate and define several tiers of digital engagement. I would lobby that the early tiers are more delivery and the later tiers are engagement.
Tier one engagement is really the first step of exploring what you have to offer and engaging with you. These actions are low-hanging fruit and simple. They also require very little commitment or transparency on the part of the consumer. These are also very one-directional (from you to them). Some examples are:
Views - people looking at your site, your videos, etc.
Impressions - similar, essentially eyeballs on your digital assets
Downloads - free downloads of resources (with or without contact capture)
b - simple expressions of liking something they’ve seen
This tier begins to see more interaction and transparency. People start to share who they are and their contact information. This stage becomes more back and forth with the constituent, but they are still exploring. You do have the ability to start nurturing these individuals since you now know who they are (and they need nurturing!). Some examples are:
Comments - action to share something and be noticed in the community
App Downloads - taking action to download an app asset onto their phone
Subscribe - share their contact information and request to know more
Sign Up - registering and signing up for something you offer (asset or event)
Create Account - creating an account and/or becoming a member
This third tier is where you see someone more from interacting to advocating. This is where the person becomes a champion for your vision/brand. This is also where true engagement happens because the person is not only interacting with you but they are also interacting with others around them. That’s the goal of almost all digital engagement… to see people engage each other. Some examples are:
Sharing - taking the action to share with friends or on social - advocating this to others
Invite - taking the initiative to invite others to join in on something they are attending
Groups - join or launch groups that bring together people in real life
Post - posting content or stories to help enrich the community
I’m certain there are many more examples here so please add your own ideas. My goal in this segment is to paint a picture that not all measures or engagements are the same. In fact, I wouldn’t even call early-stage active “engagement”. I believe engagement should be reserved for when someone starts connecting with others and advocating for your vision.
My challenge to you is to explore and build your own tiers of engagement. Please, take these tiers if they make sense to you, or start from scratch. But you need your own grid of tiered engagement so you can (1) measure properly, (2) set goals properly, (3) track conversion from one stage to the next property, and (4) celebrate member maturity.
Cause Machine Solutions
The entire Cause Machine platform is designed to help bring various tiers of engagement to life for people in your community. We believe in the nurturing of individuals in these private communities and the goal of helping everyone reach toward a deeper engagement… true tier-three engagement with your community and each other. Schedule a demo today!
COVID-19 changing your community engagement strategy?
We know you want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives through seasons like this.
We want to share a treasure-trove of secrets with you here to help you thrive in a season like this.