Even though being organized and planning your community calendar ahead of time has several benefits, it can also have its pitfalls. Community activities that are planned ahead of time without careful thought can run the risk of feeling disconnected. Timing can be everything when it comes to planning your community calendar, so if you want to get ahead, it’s vital that you consider what your community needs and when exactly they need it!
When planning your community content calendar for the year ahead (yes, we did say the year ahead), it’s important to do your research and know which events and times of the year you can leverage to help your community feel more engaged.
To help with this, we hosted an expert workshop with The Business of Community Founder, Tatiana Figueredo and Chief Community Officer at Burb, Danielle Maveal. Both experts were able to share their wisdom and enlighten Circle members on the best practices for planning your community calendar for the year ahead and setting goals that align with the seasons. While 2022 was the main focus for this workshop, the practices can be applied to any upcoming year!
For those who missed the workshop, or for those in need of a refresh, we’ve decided to create an accompanying guide to help you get your community calendar started on the right path. The answers to these 4 simple questions are your ticket to not only keeping your members more engaged, but also adding value to your community with strategically timed content and goals.
1. Why plan in seasons?
If there’s one thing that’s always certain, it’s that the seasons are always going to change. When it comes to community content and activities, knowing this in advance can be a great tool when looking ahead.
If you’re trying to convey a certain message to your community or get them to engage in certain activities, it’s important to remember that people are generally more receptive to content that doesn’t appear contrived. This is why planning content, initiating new activities or applying changes to your community will be better received if they are timed well.
To optimize your community calendar, it’s worth acknowledging that the seasons matter. In the same way that the seasons can affect our personalities throughout the year, your community will also behave differently depending on the time of year. By identifying core themes within each season, you can use this insight to help guide your content. With strategic timing, your community will automatically feel more engaged with the content you’re putting out.
2. What core themes are associated with each season?
Of course we all know that December equates to Christmas, and October is a great time for spooky content, but what less obvious ways are there to leverage the different seasons for your community calendar? While the traits we associate with each season can be subjective, there are some core themes that have become deeply connected with different transitional periods.
While the themes we discuss might not be exactly what others associate with the seasons, the general feelings can be the same for others. For example:
You might associate spring with:
- New beginnings
- A season of growth
- An opportunity to plan ahead
Based on these themes, your members might be more eager to come together and collaborate on new projects. Spring is also a good time to implement changes within your community and to host large events to set the tone for the year ahead. It can also be a great time to target new members. So essentially, spring provides a wealth of opportunity for fresh content and actions!
You might associate summer with:
- Brighter days/ Positivity
- Celebration / Family time
- Outdoor activities
Based on these themes, members might have a more optimistic outlook on announcements made within your community or have more of an openness to updates relating to policy. Additionally, summer is a great time to plan celebratory events or recognize individuals for their contributions.
Having said that, it’s also important to remember that during the summer months, members are less likely to be online. This is important because even though your community never stops operating, engagement levels might be lower than usual.
You might associate fall with:
- A season of change
- Improved focus / Learning
- An opportunity to end the year well
Based on these themes, members have an opportunity to refocus their attention and return to the community after a period of vacation or family time. Members might be more open to topics relating to goal setting or community projects. With learning another key theme during this season, members will likely be more appreciative of learning opportunities during this period.
You might associate winter with:
- Darker days
- Preparation for times ahead
- Solitude / An opportunity to learn from yourself
Based on these themes, community members might be a little more difficult to motivate. However, it is possible! Winter can be a fresh start for new habits, all with the intention of improving your quality of life and getting you through the darker days. It can also be a good time to introduce smaller groups into your community, with activities taking a more personal approach.
Depending on your community, topics relating to overall wellbeing and mental health can do well during the winter months — all with the intention of keeping your community members happy. Winter can be a difficult time for many, but your community can offer solace to those needing an outlet to get them through difficult times. During the winter months, finding ways to remind your members that your community is a supportive and inclusive space is especially important.
3. What changes do your members experience and what support do they need?
Think about how you personally change as the seasons shift. During which months are you the most creative? When are you most refreshed and ready to take on new projects? When do you have the most free time? What times of the year are you more likely to take risks? These are all questions that you should ask yourself, but that you should also be considering in relation to your community members.
Once you understand a little more about the changes that your members go through during each season, you can tailor your community content calendar to better support their needs.
- During the darker seasons, promote positive mental health and activities
- During the summer, promote topics surrounding the ability to switch off and embrace free time
- During autumn, promote learning and ways to plan ahead without experiencing burnout
4. How can you time projects to fit with the seasons?
For each season, focus on projects that seem most relevant and beneficial for your members during that time. For example, if you want to launch a new podcast or YouTube series for your community, spring is a great time to do this! If you want to launch a new learning platform, autumn might be the most appropriate time.
Once you understand that appropriate timing helps to optimize the results you get from your projects, you’ll never look back! Content hits differently when you’re more ready to receive it, so with good timing, your community members can be primed and ready to engage with your community calendar.
Now Let’s Discuss: Goal Setting
While your community content calendar serves to keep your members engaged and your community development more organized, your calendar should also aim to directly support goal setting. Community goals are another essential part of growing your community and ensuring that your current members stay committed to your platform.
A community without goals is a community without movement; a stagnant and uninviting place to be. That’s why setting goals that keep your community moving in the right direction is critical for long-term success. Even if you think that your community is pretty perfect as it is, there’s always room for improvement. This is why setting goals to target specific areas of growth within your community will set you apart from the rest.
However, goals are meaningless if their objectives are never met. This is why it’s crucial that when you set goals for your community, you also leverage the seasons to achieve better results. As mentioned previously, there are different core themes connected to each season, so why not use these themes to align your goals more strategically?
Goals for planning a seasonal community calendar can be split into 3 different categories. They are:
1. Connection goals (creating better brand affinity and increasing the sense of community)
2. Member journey goals (increasing member success)
3. Organization goals (how satisfied are you members with your community and how integral the community is to their lives?)
For each of these goals, consider the type of content you might be able to launch to achieve them. Then consider what time of the year your members might be the most receptive to this type of content. Putting in this additional level of thought can be hugely beneficial in achieving more substantial results and reaching new growth phases more quickly.
How exactly can goals be aligned with the seasons to achieve better results?
If you’re asking yourself how exactly can goals be aligned with the seasons to achieve better results, we’re glad you asked! It’s easier than it sounds, so stick with us!
Essentially, aligning your goals with the seasons is all about figuring out which areas of your community need work, and what time of the year is most appropriate for tackling these areas.
For example, if you want to focus on improving brand affinity or loyalty, you might want to do some research into member satisfaction and gain an insight into how your members view your community. To do this, select a time of the year that your members are most active and are able to provide you with this valuable feedback. As mentioned previously, the summer months usually bring a downturn in member presence within your community, therefore, summer is probably not the best time to conduct this research.
At the same time, summer can be a great time to build deeper connections with members who are online. With fewer members online, goals associated with deepening your understanding of member personas can be achieved during summer by talking with members while there’s less distractions within your community. Get out into your community during quieter times and let active members know that you’re still actively driving the community forward.
If you want to improve member success, you can also launch learning tools at a time when uptake is more likely to occur. Because of a connection to school term starting back up and vacation periods being over, fall has a deep-rooted connection to learning. If you want your members to reach their full potential using the learning tools you’re offering to them, strategically timing your launch will help your members feel more ready to take on something new and absorb more information.
Even if members don’t realize how well your timing benefits them, seasonal goal setting still manages to have a positive impact on your community overall.
Remember, your community goals can be set at any time, but implementing them more strategically will always ensure better results!
Now that you know how seasonal planning can help both your community content calendar and your community goals, it’s time to start testing the theory!
We’d like to thank Tatiana and Danielle for taking the time to speak with Circle members and sharing their expertise with us. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, you’ll find more about Tatiana’s community here and Danielle can be reached through her channels listed here.
Did you know that Circle also has other training videos that you can watch for even more inspiration and expert advice? We have a whole range of topics to choose from, so we hope you’ll find something useful for your own community!