Are you evaluating and assessing community or engagement platforms? You are in great company – a lot of people are. This is being driven by shifts in the vendor space, the growing importance of these technologies to organizations, and the maturity of current programs.
At The Community Roundtable, we think about and break down these platforms in the following way:
Each of these layers – the engagement layer, the management layer, and the administrative layer – are important for a mature engagement platform. This structure reveals why community strategy is critical to a successful community or engagement ecosystem – it informs how each of these layers is structured so that the user experience, management tools, and administrative governance are aligned for optimized performance. This structure also helps reveal why a sole focus on the user experience limits the growth, maturity, and value of a community program.
My recommendations for starting your platform evaluation projects:
- Start with Strategy: if you do not, the complexity of these platforms will confuse you, your community management team, and your members. A good strategy will help you prioritize and identify the key behaviors that you need to enable – giving you strong guidance as you look at and configure platforms. Without that alignment, the conflict will at best keep you from efficiency and at worst, hamper engagement and value.
- Evaluate Analytics & Reporting Next: no matter what your members are doing, if you cannot see it in the data, segment it, compare it, and measure its value and influence on business outcomes, you will not be able to optimize the system. Additionally, the ability to easily get tactical, operational, and strategic reports will impact your ability to manage the community and communicate progress to stakeholders.
- Platform Architecture Bites Back: if you do not evaluate the permissions structure, the way in which new communities are provisioned, and the integration and indexing of content, audit options, and ecosystem governance you may be left with a tool that severely limits growth.
- Last, Evaluatee User Functionality: if your key behaviors are available in the platform but difficult to use, that will be problematic and it will constrict engagement rates and value. Additionally, design and in particular how graphics and faces are exposed, matters in social systems. Faces are critical to online communities feeling like communities instead of a static website, a content repository, or a transactional ticketing solution.
Are you in the process of looking at these solutions?
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