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How to Select the Best Online Community Software: Part 3 of 3

Written by Joshua Paul | on April 5, 2012 at 8:30 AM

A Big Dance Approach to Evaluating Private Social Networks

Selecting the Best Online Community SoftwareSelecting the right online community platform your business or membership organization can be a harrowing experience. While there are significant differences between companies and software options, they are not always clear in marketing pages of each provider's website.

Over the past few weeks, we used the NCAA basketball tournament to illustrated how to evaluate online community software - first with the initial rounds and then with the Sweet Sixteen. Now, we wrap it up with the final selection.

Round Three: The Final Four

You have narrowed your search down to a couple of vendors. It is now time to put that vision for the future you have tucked away in the back of your mind to the test.

#1) Full Functionality

Learn about the features and functionality that come with each system that you were not originally looking for. What you find may surprise you? Though you don't want to bite off more than you can chew initially, understanding the additional member engagement tools that you can offer customers or members from launch, or a few months in, is important in selecting the right platform. For instance, organizations looking for online forums and groups are delighted when they find out our forums and groups are integrated with listservs so they can engage their members using their community both online and via email.

#2) Revenue Generate Programs

Get a full run down of the revenue-producing capabilities of each platform, but also ask about programs that each vendor has successfully implemented at other organizations. Most companies or associations still think of private online communities as an expense. However, many platforms allow you to begin producing significant revenue from the start through vendor programs, events, and advertising.

#3) Staff Usability

Walk screen shots around your office. Ask your membership, marketing, and customer care team members about both the ease of use, as well as which features are important to them and why. While many online community software providers interview staff stakeholders during the implementation process, it is never too early to understand your team's member engagement needs and get buy-in.

How Can Higher Logic Help?

When it comes to selecting a platform with such a great impact on your customers, staff, and revenue streams, it is important to get a sense that you are working with a straight-shooter. At Higher Logic, we pride ourselves on making sure you are picking the right online community software for your organization.

Whether your are building a community for the first time or replacing underperforming social networking software, our online community specialists will analyze your organization and give you the straight story as to whether your business, association, or user group is a good fit for Higher Logic online community software.

Use this guide to evaluate, select, and plan a successful online community for your association.

Topics: Online Community Software, Online Community

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