While there are many online community platforms available on the market, the best options are those that meet the specific needs of your organization.
What are the key audience needs that you expect an online community to address? A consumer technology firm might focus on providing product support information. A manufacturing firm, on the other hand, might want to give channel partners a place to network and exchange ideas. Once you’re clear on your community’s mission, develop a list of the key features that achieve this mission. This will be your list of needs.
One of the challenges of choosing an online community management solution is the broad range of available options. These options vary widely in terms of cost, capabilities, and complexity. They also differ in your ability to measure results, to customize your community, and even to control the content your community creates. Understand the vendor landscape to determine which options are best suited to your needs and budget.
Online community management solutions have a wide range of features. Most organizations should focus on five core capability areas: audience and member-facing features, community management and moderation, customizability of the user experience, gamification and intrinsic motivation tools, and reporting and analytics dashboards.
Compare each solution’s features and capabilities with your list of needs to select the most suitable solution for your organization. Speak to reference customers whose needs are most closely aligned with yours. Ask them how the vendor’s solution addresses particular needs. Ensure that you choose an online community management solution that’s right for your audience, your business needs, and your organization’s budget and technology requirements.