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 areas – user experience, content management, member management, event management, analytics & reporting, platform architecture, and vendor factors – are important to a mature engagement platform. This structure reveals why community management and strategy is so critical to developing a successful community or engagement ecosystem. This structure also helps reveal why a sole focus on the superficial 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 platforms.
- Evaluate Analytics & Reporting First: no matter what your members are doing, if you cannot see it in the data and segment it, you will not be able to optimize it. Additionally, the ability to easily get tactical, operational and strategic reports will have a big impact on your ability to manage the community.
- Platform Architecture Bites Back: if you do not understand or evaluate the permissioning structure, the way in which new communities are provisioned, and the integration and indexing of content you may be left with a tool that severely limits your growth and ability to generate value.
- Finally, Consider Front-End Functionality: if your key behaviors are available in the platform but difficult to use, they might as well not be there at all. Additionally, how graphics and faces are exposed matter a lot as they are key to helping online communities feel like a community instead of a content-centric website.
Are you in the process of looking at these solutions?
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