Choosing a community platform can be a daunting task. There are many options, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s essential to take your time when deciding which one will work best for your organization or team.
If you’re planning to build your online community, this article is for you. It has tips to help you think through selecting a new community platform, including steps like finding out what features you want the platform to have. Here are the tips you can follow:
Know What You Want To Achieve
To start, take a step back and think about the big picture. What are your goals? Is this platform going to help you achieve them? And what are the things that’ll help or hurt those outcomes? Ensure that the things you’re looking for align with your ideal vision of success and that they aren’t missing any critical components.
For example, if you need a way for teachers and students in different regions of the world to collaborate on educational projects together and if the timelines for these projects are very short, a cheap solution might not work because it takes time for people from different countries to learn how each other’s platforms work. Therefore, the more specific your needs are at this stage, the better equipped your online community will be later on in its life cycle when it comes to expanding or refocusing efforts.
Look For Apps That Integrate With Your Current Systems
When you’re in the middle of a project and need to access the information you’ve stored in another app, you want to ensure it’s as easy to get that data as possible. Hence, integration with other systems is essential. If a platform can’t pull data from or push it into your existing systems, it could mean a loss of time and money.
Integration also makes it easier to stay secure. Community platforms are designed for security. However, having multiple ways for users (and hackers) to access your data increases the chances of something going wrong.
Think About How You Want Your Users To Interact With One Another
When considering which online community platform to use, it’s essential to think about how you want your users to interact with one another. You should also consider the features and tools available on each platform. This way, you can ensure that everyone will find it easy to navigate the platform to connect and with tools and features that help them do this better. The best way to do this is by taking a step back and imagining your community in action.
As you envision your ideal community, try to imagine how users will communicate, connect, and collaborate within it. Are they having conversations? Are they sharing articles? Do they have ongoing discussions? Are there any specific tasks or projects that need to be completed? Again, these are only some examples of what could happen in a social network, as the possibilities are endless.
Pick A Platform That’s Mobile-Friendly
You want the online community platform you select to be mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness means it’s easy to use on mobile devices. More so, it means that it’s optimized for small screens so that users can easily navigate their way around without any difficulties.
To test if a platform is mobile-friendly, visit its website on your smartphone or tablet and try navigating the various pages. If you have no problems using it, that’s a good sign. If there are issues with navigation or content display, consider looking at other platforms instead.
Why should you care about being mobile-friendly? Most businesses today have an online presence and rely heavily on digital channels such as social media and email marketing campaigns. It makes having an active online community another important channel in reaching out to customers via this medium.
Consider The Costs Of Using Different Platforms
When choosing your community platform, you must consider the cost of using different digital platforms, including software and maintenance. If you’re going to pay for software, make sure it’s worth it. If you use a popular one that many other companies use, you may get better pricing than if you were custom building your online community platform from scratch.
However, if you have an existing system that’s working well for your organization and has been customized exactly as needed, there might not be a compelling reason to switch over to another platform. The same goes for support. If the current solution has been working well for years without any issues and switching costs are prohibitive (or simply unnecessary), then it makes sense not to change things.
Find Out If The Platform Comes With Support And Training
When you’re looking for a community platform, it’s essential to ensure that the product comes with support and training. If you don’t have the resources to provide these services, your organization may be better off choosing a different solution. Make sure that you understand how your chosen platform works before purchasing it.
The truth is, it’s not enough to know what features are available; you need to understand how those features work together to get the most out of them. Additionally, ensure that your organization can afford additional training and customization fees if they’re needed later in the future. These costs can add up quickly if they are not included in initial costs or negotiated into contracts before signing legal documents such as patents or licenses.
Choose A Platform That Offers Sufficient Security Options
The security of your data and the safety of your community members should be a top priority. A good community platform should have several built-in security options to ensure that only the right people can access confidential information. More so, you need to ensure that your data is adequately encrypted. Some of the options you can consider are:
With User Authentication, users need to authenticate themselves before they can access restricted content or participate in specific conversations. It allows you to identify new users, including existing customers who want access to something new on your site (such as a new blog post). You can also set up two-factor authentication so that even if someone gets hold of their login credentials, they won’t be able to get into anything significant without the second factor required by their mobile device or email address.
With User Permissions, each user needs permission before they post on behalf of themselves or behalf of their organization. These permissions can include whether or not they’re allowed to see other users’ comments, edit posts made by others, and view analytics data.
The security of your data is of paramount importance. Without it, you could be putting your business at risk of breach. Thus, it’s crucial to prioritize it and consider it while choosing your online community platform.
Make Sure You’re Comfortable Using The Platform
Make sure you’re comfortable using the platform on your own. You should now know how it works and be able to show others how to use it. Make sure that you understand every feature of the platform before promoting it to others.
If something is confusing, or if something doesn’t work, make sure that you can troubleshoot the problem yourself so that when someone else runs into similar issues, they can turn to you for help instead of just giving up and switching platforms altogether. It is especially true if you have employees who don’t have a technical background. Hence, they should ensure they feel confident enough with their knowledge of the software before they start trying to teach others how to best utilize its features.
Selecting a community platform is a large and complex process. Many considerations are crucial when deciding which platform will best meet your needs. However, with these tips in mind, you can make an informed choice that suits your needs and budget.