Connecting people together

Building a Content Plan for Your Online Community Using the "Wants and Offers" Exercise


Building a successful online community requires thoughtful planning and regular engagement. One of the most important aspects of community building is creating content that resonates with your members and keeps them coming back for more. To help you develop a content plan that meets the needs of your community, a "Wants and Offers" exercise can be incredibly useful.

The Wants and Offers exercise is a simple but powerful tool that helps identify what your community members want and what they can offer each other. 

The goal is to align your content plan (discussions, events and content) with the needs of your members, so you can provide them with valuable and relevant information and especially at the start of your community a number of quick wins.


Step 1: Gather Your Community

The first step in the Wants and Offers exercise is to gather your community members. This can be done through a survey, a series of discussions, via a ideas generation tool on your online community or even via a virtual meeting or face to face session. 

The goal is to get as many people involved as possible, so you can get a broad understanding of what your audience’s wants and offers are.


Step 2: Identify Your Community's Wants

Once you've gathered your community members, it's time to identify their wants. This can be done by asking them to provide feedback on the types of content they would like to see. Some questions to consider might include:

  • What topics are you most interested in?
  • What are your biggest challenges or pain points?
  • What types of content do you prefer (e.g. blog posts, videos, podcasts)?

Step 3: Identify Your Communities Offers

Once you have a good understanding of what your community members want, it's time to identify what they can offer each other. This might include:

  • Subject matter experience
  • Content or resources that members are using
  • Presentations and guides on the subject area.

The key is to think about what sets your community apart and what can your members offer each other that they cannot get elsewhere. 


Cartoon image of people sharing their wants and offers



Step 4 - Bring the Want and Offers Together

Now you have the wants and offers it's time to start matching them up. 

Hopefully, you should have a number of Wants from the members that match the Offers.

This is your starting point and where you have to beg and persuade your members to share the content they mentioned they are happy to offer or start to arrange events and activities that will allow the members to share what they can offer with the members of your community.

Make sure that you promote to the members where a "want" was requested and how the members were able to offer their support.

The second part is the remaining Want’s from the members.

This is where you can ask the members to help you prioritise the Wants and also ask them to help find people or content that can help you fulfil those wants.


Group of people creating an action plan for the online community


Step 5 - Build into your Action Plan

You don’t need to do it all in one go.  Start to build these wants and offers into your actions. 

This might involve brainstorming some ideas on the best way to do it.  Maybe through themes or tweaking existing content to better meet the needs of your membership. 

Some questions to consider when developing your action plan might include:

  • How can we address our community's pain points first?
  • What topics are currently trending that we can focus on?
  • How can we make the content engaging and interactive?
  • What types of content have performed well in the past and how can we build on that success?

By aligning your action plan with the wants and offers of your community, you can create a more engaging and valuable experience for your members. This will help build trust and loyalty, ultimately leading to a more successful and sustainable online community.


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