1. Community at Its Best
A viable community solution is one that will grow with and adapt to your needs. When selecting a community platform, we’ve found that there are a few key factors you should consider to build a healthy, sustainable community. In the next several posts, we will explore these factors.
One of the most important considerations is that you need a community strategy that includes: identifiable business objectives, an emphasis on being personal, relevant content, rewards and recognition, and where membership has its privileges. Too often technology leads the decision-making process. Nowhere is this more evident than in the social software market. While not nearly as rampant as it was a few years ago, companies still often buy this technology without first defining a strategy for what they want to accomplish.
‘ What type of community will you launch?
‘ What are your business objectives?
‘ What metrics will you use to measure your success?
These (and others) are questions you must ask to create your strategy before you launch your community.
2. Integrate Technology on a True Platform
In order to help you build a successful community, you will need a true platform. A true platform allows you to build on top of it, consolidating your existing social properties onto it. You can support both internal and external social communities, and enterprise-grade features and services built in mean you don’t have to use a complex web of social media applications to get the functionality you need.
Probably the biggest struggle that the large enterprise software companies have in this fast-growing market (besides faster iterations for getting their product to the market) is overcoming the natural instinct to build isolated information silos.
Because today’s organizations don’t have a single technology vendor, they must build and integrate with a collaboration platform, as opposed to cobbling together a number of disconnected applications. Integration abilities allow you to bridge the gaps between the different social applications your community members use. Integration with CRM and CMS applications enables you to leverage and extend your current IT investments, instead of displacing them. Now more than ever it is important to connect and integrate a company’s collaboration across all its investments ‘ from CRM to financial reporting. By integrating e-mail into your collaboration environment, you can tear down information silos that force collaboration to be dependent on technology.
Social tools are part of the fabric for how organizations work, and will be increasingly so in the future.
3. Always Consider Scalability
We now close out our series on building a healthy, successful community. Scalability is important to consider. Whether your community is small or large, you should be able to add functionality as the community grows, publish your sites in different languages, and provide a mobile experience that connects people to people, and people to information, anytime, anywhere. In addition, the platform needs to be user friendly to encourage high participation rates so you have a robust, engaged community.
Where is your community in its lifecycle? Understanding the community lifecycle is part of building a comprehensive strategy specifically around moderation and management of a community.
Combined, these recommendations can guide organizations to pick the right platform and strategies in order to build the communities that they envision to accomplish their unique goals.