The Community Activation Ladder of Success

The Community Activation Ladder of Success


The success of your community engagement and activation efforts can be hard to pin down. That’s why we created our Community Activation Ladder of Success.

Community activation isn’t something you just turn on like a switch. It’s a journey, and our Community Activation Ladder of Success provides a series of benchmarks that:

  • Defines each step on your journey up the ladder
  • Identifies where you are on the journey
  • Identifies the actions required of you to advance closer to your Community Activation goals

Climbing the Community Activation Ladder of Success

Your goal: Ascend this ladder of community activation success to achieve your purpose quicker and potentially beyond your expectations. Let’s go:

Stratiscope's Community Activation Ladder of Success

Step #1: Outreach

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Outreach equals engagement or activation. On our ladder, Outreach is one-way communication—pushing out or posting unrequested (and often unwanted) messages without really knowing who you’re talking to. Examples include putting up a billboard or sending a mass mailing. It doesn’t strengthen your foundation for community activation; it’s just the easiest thing to do to make the appearance of community building and engagement.

Step #2: Involvement

You’re making—and following through on—a commitment to literally “show up” and interact. But it’s still as superficial as Outreach because you don’t yet know the community and its people. Examples include attending an event or providing a sponsorship. You put in time or money to “check the box,” but you’re not actually engaging and dialoging.

Step #3: Transactional

In other words, simple quid pro quo interaction where someone does something for you because you do something for them—and that’s that. Examples include responding to an inquiry and asking for action from a lead. “Tit for tat” never results in a sustained, meaningful relationship for long-term community activation success.

Step #4: Engagement

This is where true Community Activation starts—and you can start here, skipping Steps 1-3. You’re collaborating with community members in a dialogue and beginning a true relationship with them. Interactions are beyond transactional—they’re about being in partnership for your mutual purpose. Engagement means a level playing field where everyone is working together.

Step #5: Activation

Now you’re motivating supporters as true partners in a goal. People show up without being asked. They offer to support your efforts without prompting. And they talk about you in the ways you want them to. All because of the relationship you’ve created and nurtured together.

While Activation starts with individuals, it’s through those relationships that a whole community or community segment can be activated.