How To Conduct a Mid-Year Review of Your Community
Freebie alert: I’ve included something special at the end of this post!
“Summer, summer, summertime…” A reminder that we are already halfway through the year! It’s also a great time to check in on your community’s strategic plan1 to see how things are shaping up (that is, if your plan is based on the calendar year).
When was the last time you opened that strategic plan? Was it right after you received approval to proceed with it? Don’t worry. I’ve worked with plenty of community teams where this is the case. Even if it’s been a while, go ahead and open up that file so that we can get down to business.
Remember the goals you set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year? Well, it’s time to pull some reports to determine how the progress is going. What are the metrics that will help you get a better understanding of your progress toward each goal? How close are you to achieving the goals that you set?
Activities, Events, Programs
Are you on track with the number of activities, events, and programs you committed to for the year? Ideally, these would be tied in with one or more of the goals you set. What are some specific metrics and success stories you can share around the ones that have already taken place or begun?
Does the timeline need to be adjusted for any of the year’s milestones that were outlined in the strategic plan? This is quite common, and it’s best to adjust them now to forecast for the next six months.
This mid-year check-in is an ideal time to review important documentation, too, such as: Community Guidelines, Moderator Guidelines, and Employee Guidelines. As a community team, come together to discuss any situations that may have come up over the last six months. Were the guidelines clear enough to make it easy to know how to respond to the situation? If not, this is the time to revise them to make them more specific so you won’t have to worry about that situation again in the future.
For example, let’s say that a user posted something offensive, but there was no Community Guideline that clearly stated that the language used was not allowed. This is an opportunity to add or rewrite the guidelines so that they aren’t subjective. If you do rewrite them, be sure to announce this to the community so that members are aware of the changes.
Structure & Navigation
Are certain areas of your community too active? An example of this would be forums that are getting more than 30 posts per day on average. If so, you’ll want to look at splitting those areas up, which means expanding your structure. This is a great problem to have! It shows that there’s so much conversation in the community that you need to build out more sections to host those discussions.
On the flip side…are there any dead zones? An example of this would be any forums that are getting less than five posts per day on average. You don’t want new users coming across dead zones, or else they might assume the community isn’t going to be valuable to them. The posts in a dead zone should either be archived, or moved/merged to a more active area of the community.
Hopefully, you have a central place you are collecting and saving feedback on the community. It’s a good time to go to that place and start dividing the comments on:
Low-hanging fruit: Which comments are easiest and quickest to implement? (Perhaps they’ve already been implemented? If so, be sure to include these in your mid-year report!)
Small asks: These are the comments that might take 1-4 hours of time and effort to execute.
Medium asks: You’re going to need to dedicate at least one day, or maybe a few, in order to get these done.
Big asks: These are so big that they usually require some type of redesign, new programming, new processes, or revision of those. These asks typically also mean you’ll need budget.
In your report, include metrics around each of these as well as your plans to tackle any of the medium or big asks that haven’t been addressed.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! I’ve got a gift for you:
If you don’t have the time to complete all of the slides, just pick and choose which ones will serve you best. The bottom line: Create something to share with leadership so that they know the progress the community is making up to this point.
If you’re in need of a template to build out your community’s strategic plan, scroll down and click Subscribe at the bottom. You’ll then receive an email with my free template.