eBrandz Blog

How can your business successfully leverage online community platforms?

The rapid emergence of dynamic community platforms probably has been among the most exciting developments in the domain of technology over the recent years. They have brought about a revolutionary change in digital marketing techniques by allowing even smaller companies to build communities on the Internet. Following are some of their advantages:
1. The collective reach and power of online communities can be leveraged for facilitating conversations about services and products, and for stimulating innovation.
2. The proactive communities can take up interesting initiatives on their own.
3. They can generate a greater level of customer intimacy that can be beneficial to brand building.

Considering the immense competitive advantages, which can result from this highly visible technology, it is extremely vital that sourcing professionals have a major role in their procurement. However, as the community platform market expands, so also the complexity of managing various suppliers as well as stakeholder objectives.

Some sourcing teams might struggle to consolidate different internal community platforms and identify the vendor to align with long-term organizational goals. In this context, following are the key aspects to take into account while evaluating these technologies:

Pay attention to your business model uniqueness
The diversity of different business models makes it vital for sourcing professionals to be attentive to their own business as well as supplier strengths. The best option for one organization may not be right for another, so select vendors closely aligned with your unique business goals.

Think how the chosen platform will scale to a multiple user base and integrate. You need to be aware of factors, which may hamper scalability. Check whether the platform can integrate smoothly with other tools. There are many options to develop communities. However, sourcing professionals must align the correct pricing model with their specific business objective. Try to seek pricing models that will scale with greater usage.

Focus more on prioritized features
New functionalities like listening platforms, and Facebook or Twitter integration are clearly pushing forward the marketplace. On the flip side, these capabilities might cause sourcing teams to lose their way. It is important to avoid long ‘checklists’ of capabilities.

Community platforms are not merely about branded communities. Building a list of priorities should ideally be based on your expected usage of typical community features as well as non-community features (for example, social CRM, content management and response management).

Think beyond ROI to intrinsic business value
Carrying your ROI (Return on Investments) assessment for any social collaboration tool can prove to be a complex and frustrating process. Instead of conceiving a clear and precise ROI benchmark, focus on the more valid reasons behind development of communities.

Zero in on the metrics that will suggest that the tools are a real success. Look to companies, which are building a more practical business intelligence metrics by allowing to measure factors, such as user engagement, relevant support metrics, and last but not the least, sentiment.