Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are documented instructions that outline step-by-step processes and guidelines for routine operations. They ensure efficiency, quality, and consistency by reducing errors and standardizing form. SOPs provide people with a consistent framework to follow, particularly for complex tasks.
For community managers, SOPs ensure that everyone on your team can create a consistent experience for your members. SOPs enable a structured approach to community building that optimizes your team’s time and effort as they contribute to the growth and success of your community.
Rather than strict guides, SOPs are guidelines that capture processes, both to ensure your team isn’t constantly reinventing the wheel and recreating work, and to ensure that your members have a consistent experience in your community.
Implementing Standard Operating Procedures in community management is a powerful strategy to enhance consistency and efficiency. By developing well-structured SOPs, incorporating them into your team's workflow, and continuously monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness, you can achieve streamlined operations. deliver a superior member experience, and pave the way for sustainable growth and success.
Developing Your Standard Operating Procedures
Begin by identifying key tasks and processes that would benefit from SOPs, such as content creation, member onboarding, event planning, or conflict resolution. Engage relevant stakeholders, including team members, to gather insights and ensure comprehensive SOP development. Your SOPs should be detailed, clear, and actionable to maximize their utility.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to what processes could benefit from having SOPs, and it will likely be clear to you where they’ll make the most impact in your community. Many communities will benefit from developing SOPs around these common activities:
Content Creation: When you outline the process for creating and publishing content, including steps for topic ideation, research, writing, editing, proofreading, and scheduling, you ensure that content meets quality standards and is consistently published on time.
Social Media Management: Define the process for managing community social media accounts. This can include guidelines for creating engaging posts, responding to comments and messages, and monitoring analytics.
Member Onboarding: Provide a step-by-step guide for welcoming new members to the community, including sending welcome emails, providing orientation materials, and facilitating introductions to existing members to ensure a consistent member experience.
Event Planning: Streamline the process of planning and executing community events with guidelines around selecting a venue, coordinating logistics, promoting the event, and managing registrations.
Community Moderation: Establish guidelines for moderating community discussions and enforcing community rules. This ensures that community guidelines are consistently applied and maintains a positive and respectful environment.
Structuring Your SOPs for Maximum Efficacy
Well-structured SOPs are essential for clear understanding and ease of implementation. Your goal is for a new team member to be able to replicate your work by following the SOP! By including the following components, you ensure that the entire process is captured in the SOP:
- Clear objectives and purpose.
- Detailed step-by-step instructions.
- Templates or examples where applicable.
- References to additional resources or documentation.
Here is a sample SOP for content creation, thoug your can use the the basic structure across activities:
Content Creation SOP Example
Objective and Purpose
The objective of this SOP is to ensure consistent and high-quality content creation by providing a step-by-step process for topic ideation, research, writing, editing, proofreading, and scheduling.
1. Topic Ideation:
- Brainstorm content ideas based on community goals and member interests.
- Research industry trends and popular topics.
- Conduct thorough research on the chosen topic to gather relevant information and data.
- Use reputable sources and cite them appropriately.
- Create a compelling outline or structure for the content.
- Write the content, aligning it with the community's tone and voice.
- Ensure you’re following the community style guide.
- Review the content for clarity, coherence, and grammar.
- Cut out unnecessary information and ensure a logical flow.
- Carefully proofread the content for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
- Use automated tools and get a second pair of eyes if possible.
6. Scheduling and Publishing:
- Add relevant tags or keywords and select appropriate categories.
- Add to the content calendar.
- Before publishing, review the content creation checklist.
Templates or Examples:
[Link to templates or examples]
[Link to the content creation checklist]
Style Guide: [Link to the community's style guide]
Content Calendar: [Link to the content calendar template]
Implementing Your SOPs
There are two parts of implementing your SOPs: Integrating them into your workflow through appropriate tools and introducing them to your team.
Tools that can be used to facilitate the adoption of your SOPs depend on the project management tools you currently use. These may include project management platforms like Asana and Trello, shared documents through Google Drive or Microsoft Office, or even your community platform itself, like Hivebrite. Your goal is to either take advantage of or add tools that will make collaboration and tracking of your SOPs easy for your team.
Once that is in place, it’s time to introduce SOPs to your team. If you already have an established team that has been working without SOPs, introducing SOPs into your community management team should be an iterative process. Begin by conducting thorough training sessions to ensure everyone understands the purpose and benefits of SOPs. Encourage open communication and provide ongoing support to address any questions or concerns. Have your team members draft the SOPs relating to their roles. It's essential to foster a culture where SOPs are seen as tools to enhance efficiency and improve the member experience, rather than restricting creativity.
Remind your team members that consistency promotes a seamless experience for community members, and that ultimately, SOPs will streamline processes and reduce duplication of efforts. SOPs also play a critical role in training new team members, ensuring they have the necessary guidance to excel in their roles. Ultimately, SOPs contribute to a more productive and successful community.
And of course, to ensure that your SOPs continue to be effective, it is crucial to monitor and evaluate their implementation. Create a feedback loop to collect insights from team members and identify areas for improvement. Regularly review the SOPs, update them as needed, and maintain a shared document repository for easy access. By continuously optimizing your SOPs, you and your community management team can adapt to changing needs and emerging best practices.
SOPs are valuable tools in community management, streamlining processes and ensuring consistency. By developing well-structured SOPs, integrating them into workflows, and providing training and support, community managers can optimize their team's time and effort while delivering a superior member experience.
Clear objectives, step-by-step instructions, templates, and references to resources are key components of effective SOPs. Introducing SOPs to the team and fostering a culture that values efficiency and the member experience will lead to greater productivity and success in the community.
Try incorporating SOPs into your community management efforts and see how they streamline your workflow.
This content was written by Hivebrite's Head of Community Morgan Wood. It was originally posted in the Community Leaders Institute community.
Hivebrite is an all-in-one community management platform. We empower organizations of all sizes and sectors to launch, manage and grow fully branded private communities. Schedule a demo today!