In my last blog post, “Effective Community Managers – Do You Have What It Takes,” I talked about traits that help make a community manager successful. In this blog, I want to address the technology side of the equation. Community managers not only need a specialized skill set, but also the right technology to support their engagement strategy and enable them do their job efficiently and effectively.
For example, ComBlu manages programs for several clients where we employ a community platform to communicate and interact with members, facilitate content creation and amplification, and track and measure the reach and ROI of the program.
To make the right platform decision for your community, start by looking at both the community mission and key functionality requirements. Create a scorecard to evaluate each solution against your requirements and budget. In our example, the platform we need would ideally provide:
- Robust community features like private groups, discussion threads, admin-to-member and member-to-member communications
- Easy content amplification to various channels
- Social tracking of members’ activities across various channels
- Gamification engine that includes metrics from both community and social activities
- Custom reporting
With so many great community platforms and tools available today, it is still a challenging task.
We regularly review new tools and platforms along with the latest enhancements to more established solutions. To date, we have found some sophisticated new functionality and strong players on the community side OR on the social amplifications and tracking side. We also know that a number of items on our wish list are ‘on the roadmap’ for these providers. But no single platform offers the integrated end-to-end solution we need today. The report in Business-Software.com’s “The Top 10 Forum and Community Platform Report” seems to echo our findings.
- Depending on your timeline and budget, you will have several options, including:
- Prioritize your requirements and find the ‘best match’ solution
- Adopt a phased approach to reflect the vendor’s planned enhancements
- Contract for custom development
- Create a hybrid solution
In our clients’ cases, we chose for the last option. We decided to integrate two platforms to meet our community functionality, social amplification and measurement needs. This ‘best-of-breed’ hybrid enables us to go to market on time without compromising on functionality or adding budget dollars.
There are a lot of great platforms and the industry is making great strides in integration of social, content and community. I’m looking forward to the next gen platforms where this functionality is converged to provide the best of the new engagement platforms, analytics suites, gamification and community functionality.
What has your experience been when searching for a community platform? I’d love to hear!
Social engagement and community manager specialist. Current focus on: online communities, community management, consumer/advocate content and engagement strategy, advocate identification, social media measurement and tracking, and social listening programs, along with production and event management. Brenda has 18+ years of experience in both traditional and social marketing programs