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Guest Blog: 2019 Year of Community

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It's a new year, and a new beginning. And the possibilities are endless for you and your community. It’s an exciting time to be leading an online community with Invision Community - whether you’re starting out or switching over - and the new year is the perfect opportunity to start anew. How are you celebrating the new year with your community? What are your community goals for 2019? To kick off the new year, I’ve outlined guidance for several types of communities, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to take your community to the next level. New Community Are you a new community or looking to start one? You’re in the best position because you have a blank slate and everything is possible. Invest in a formative experience during your first year of defining your community’s purpose. What are your community’s mission, goals, and objectives? What is your competitive advantage against other similar communities or are you developing a new niche? How are you going to develop content programming, site features, or digital services in support of that advantage? What is your marketing plan to attract new users? Who is your core base of users, and what’s your plan to cultivate your first set of superusers? What is your budget to create a sustainable plan for hosting? Interest Community Are you a hobbyist with an established community of passion? Your community is a labor of love for you, and while it can feel like you’re pouring your heart and soul into it on a daily basis, it can be refreshing to take a step back and take stock of your community’s purpose, engagement goals, and how you want to lead in 2019 through fresh eyes. What’s your plan to create more emotionally-driven storytelling in your community? How are you going to deepen your tribal connection to users and between users? How can you incorporate member feedback into your New Year’s resolutions through polls, surveys, and member insights? How are you building a scalable community that leverages automation, staff, and user generated content to achieve your objectives? What are your engagement metrics year over year for 2018, and what is your projection for 2019 metrics like active members, online activity, best answers, and other user targets? How are you going to achieve those engagement metrics through initiatives like new pathways for engagement or enhanced training for staff? Enterprise Are you a brand community that’s part of a parent organization? Your organization probably already understands the value of investing in an online community, but rest assured that you’re in good company. In the 50th Anniversary report by the research firm IDC, it’s estimated that 80% of all Fortune 5000 companies will host an online community by 2020. As a community manager, you’ve probably covered all the basics such as approving your community’s budget for the new year, provided performance reviews of your staff, and mapped out your community strategy to align with organizational goals. Nevertheless, there are always more opportunities to increase your community’s prominence: What new early-stage relationships do you want to cultivate with employees, suppliers, vendors or partners? How can you create more networking touch points between your community and key constituencies to deliver community-driven solutions? How can you present your community’s data to stakeholders in new ways for better insight? How can you vest key stakeholders into community decisions and let them be a rewarding part of the conversation? What growth areas are happening within the organization, and how can you make the community be an integral part of its delivery? My personal New Year’s resolution is to develop my website into a Community of Excellence. This involves incorporating thought leadership from professional community management resources, making data-driven decisions, and formalizing a growth plan based on best practices. I hope you’ll join me in a year-long journey of community management as we conceptualize, learn, and discuss how to co-build Communities of Excellence. It’s a new year of endless opportunities to drive new growth and excellence for our members and communities. What are your community goals for 2019? Share in the comments below or in the exclusive Client Lounge in the Invision Community forums, so we can cheer each other on, check-in periodically, and provide peer mentorship for each other. Join me in a Year of Community. - Joel R Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).

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