Integrated analytics is a key component to a successful social platform since an online community is a constantly evolving entity. Having a good grasp on which information and parts of the platform are getting used, and which are not, helps to determine what your users find valuable. The only way to know this is to have a fully integrated analytics package so you can make the right decisions to deliver the right tools and content your users find valuable.
An effective social platform will enable you to use a single online community for multiple purposes. By segmenting information based on customer criteria such as products or geography, users get the information they are interested in.
Enable private groups such as customer advisory boards or customer committees that reside in the community, but are only accessible to a select few. Implementing a single social business platform to handle everything from internal employee discussions to customer collaboration to entire product segments makes your initiative more cost effective, organization more agile, and customer engagement strategy more scalable.
The reality is your users are already on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and others. Your social business platform will never take the place of those sites, so you shouldn't try. However, we don't want to ignore the fact your users are on these sites, in fact you should embrace it.
Within reasons for your specific business and industry, your social platform should give the ability to pull in information from those other sites that your users are on and they want to share within your online community. Your users will love the ease of sharing content they already have on sites they already use. Your site will benefit from more interesting and timely content that makes your site a more interesting place for users to visit.
When starting on a new social platform many companies want to offer all the features to their users as the site launches. The problem with this is you overwhelm your users with too many features and spread them all too thin.
A good social platform will not only give you all the features you could ever need, but enable you to only use the ones that are right for your users and the state of your community. When the community matures, leading social platforms give you easy ways to enable the more advanced features to keep the community new and fresh and help you extend the benefits to your users.
The success of an online community is only 50% determined by the technology you choose. There is a lot of strategy, planning and resources that are needed to make a community valuable to your users. It doesn't matter if the resources that can help you with this are internal or outside consultants. Good social platforms understand this need of their customers and provide the resources to assist in the success of the online community beyond the software itself.
Well there you have it. These are the 10 characteristics of leading social platforms based on my experience. Do you agree? Anything I have missed? We would love to hear your thoughts.