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Moving to a New Online Community Platform: Simple Ways to Avoid Missteps

Written by Joshua Paul | on August 5, 2015 at 9:02 AM


When it comes to the people who have online community software platforms in place and want to migrate or upgrade to a new social platform, we've seen it all.  

We have migrated platforms ranging from large communities built on Jive and Lithium to communities built on basic software systems like Ning.  We've moved data from antiquated listserv platforms into full online communities and imported community data from home-grown community platforms or forum tools.

Despite the successful outcomes, migrating from one online community platform to another is never a completely straightforward process.

While your online community software provider will do most of the heavy lifting for you, there are things that your organization is going to want to have in place to make the process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Simple To-Do List: Migrating Your Online Community From One Platform to Another

Task #1) Outline Your Strategy

What is in it for your organization?

Community building is not a selfless activity, but rather a business strategy with clear benefits to the business. How will your business leverage the engagement in your community to do things like increase customer retention or satisfaction, create more profitable products using better data from the market, or identify more revenue opportunities within their customer base?

You don't need to have a complete strategy mapped out before you begin migrating your data to your new online community software. However, it is important to have a basic strategic framework of how your company is going to leverage the stronger relationships that the community delivers with your customers.

Your strategy outline will inform which features and data fields are important in the new customer community platform.

Task #2) Lay Out Segmentation and Permissions

How will your community be segmented into groups and who will get access to specific groups, features, and content?

Along with understanding your target community members' biggest problems so that you can align your online community with solving those challenges, it is important to understand the different groups of people that will have access to your online customer or member community.

Questions to answer include:

  • Will customers, partners, and employees all have access to the community?
  • Do you have different customer types or users of different product?
  • Do you have different levels of partners that will have access to specific tiers of the community?

It is also important to understand how different groups of community members (personas) will interact with each other in the community platform. Will partners interact with customers? Will all customers be able to interact with each other or only the customers that use a particular product?

Switching online community platforms is your opportunity to optimize the structure of your communities. A proper structure allows you to optimize the community to each community member depending on their relationship with your company — whether they are prospective customers, partners, new customers going through your on boarding process, or an established leader in your community.

Depending on their relationship with your company, each community member will have access to different things in the community. Your community's security model provides a good user experience to your customers so that they are getting information that is relevant to them without having to dig through a lot of content that is not relevant to them.

Task #3) Get Access to Your Old Data

Do you have access to export data from your current online community platform?

This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how often this comes up.

Business leaders and customer engagement pros get very excited about launching a new user community platform. They've developed their strategy. They feel they have a strong value proposition or reason for customers to participate in the community. And they've selected a new online community software platform. They are ready to go.

However, then they realize that the person who originally implemented their old existing online community platform is no longer with the company. Sometimes, the platform provider they are switching from is not very willing to give them access to an export of their data from their current customer community so that it can be imported to their new online community platform.

The lesson here:

Before you start that the migration process, make sure that you have access to the data from your old existing online community software platform. Taking this simple step can avoid adding weeks and sometimes months of delay to the launch of your new online customer or member community.

Online Community Software Takeaway

If the online community software company that you've selected is like Socious, they will bend over backwards to make the transition from an existing online committee platform to their community platform as painless as possible.

However, since they typically won't have access to your old online community software, your involvement can't be hands-off. There are things that you can do to help make this process go smoother, faster, and with fewer surprises.

First, have a sense of your strategy and how your organization will leverage your online community for real business outcomes.

Then, make sure that you have your logistical ducks in a row. This includes planning the structure of your online community and having access to your data from your old online community platform.

Download your free guide to buying and implementing a customer portal.

Topics: Online Community Software, Online Community

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