Why do mission and values matter for online communities?
Running a thriving online community is like exploring uncharted terrain.
It’s no walk in the park and there’s no one-map fits all solution.
However, having a clear vision and mission can be your reliable compass, guiding you every step of the way. Below, we'll delve into why these elements matter and how to leverage them effectively.
Understanding Vision and Mission
First things first, let's define these two guiding lights:
A vision is your aspirational goal. It's the peak of the mountain, the bold dream that excites and motivates your community members. It needs to be forward-looking, broad, and inspiring.
A mission, on the other hand, is the path you choose to ascend that mountain. It outlines the purpose of your community and describes what you do, for whom, and how.
Both are crucial for forging a tight-knit online community that breeds genuine interaction, commitment, and growth.
The Importance of Vision and Mission
Now, let’s delve into why vision and mission are key to successful online communities:
Giving Direction and Purpose
An online community without clear vision and mission is like a ship without a compass–it's easy to drift off course and lose your way.
Let's consider Strava. Their mission is "to be the leading platform for movement.". Through constant innovation, this powerful mission continues to shape the platform's user experience, highlighting the power of communities in sports.
Fostering a Sense of Belonging
Each community member is on a step of the community lifecycle. Starting with observers and moving to creators.
A clear vision and mission can fuel this journey, creating a shared sense of purpose.
According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, this sense of belonging is a primary factor in online community participation.
Guiding Decisions and Strategies
When launching new initiatives or making critical decisions, refer to your community's vision and mission. If a proposed strategy doesn't align, it may be time to step back and reconsider. Making this a habit can save time, and resources, and maintain the integrity of your community.
Deciding on Mission and Values
Having established the importance of vision and mission for successful online communities, let's delve into the practicality.
How do you decide what your mission and values are?
Brainstorming and Self-Reflection
Firstly, it's essential to take a step back and evaluate what you are aiming to achieve with your online community.
Ask yourself these questions to guide your thought process:
What is a change you want to see in the world or a problem you want to solve?
Who is your target audience, and what are their needs, wants, and interests?
How does your community meet these needs, and what unique value can it offer?
How would you like your community to evolve through the years?
Incorporate Member Feedback
Remember that an online community is not a one-man show. You have participants, volunteers, and other stakeholders interested in its success. Therefore, their input is valuable when defining your mission and values. Hold surveys, interviews, or discussion forums to gather their insights and perspectives.
Align with the Business Strategy
Your mission and vision must align with the overarching business strategy if your online community is linked to a business. This alignment ensures consistency and enhances your community's and business's growth and development.
Finalising Mission and Values
Once you've gathered ideas, insights, and information, it's time to craft your mission and values.
Keep it simple and clear: your mission and values should be easily understood by anyone reading them.
Make sure they're achievable: While it's good to aim high, setting unrealistic expectations can lead to disillusionment and disappointment.
They should inspire and motivate: Your mission and values should create a spark in your community members, motivating them to participate and contribute.
Consistently revisit and adjust if necessary: Your community's mission and values aren't set in stone. Like the community itself, they should evolve and adapt over time.
As a community manager, your role is not to dictate the vision and mission but to facilitate discussions, guide conversations, and ensure everyone's voice is heard.
A powerful vision and mission statement will rise from your community's shared aspirations and experiences.
In building an online community, your vision and mission are your guiding stars.
They give purpose, foster belonging, and keep strategies aligned.
They’re the bedrock of your journey–profoundly shaping your community's landscape and culture.