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Choosing the right online community software is a critical decision in reaching your goals. Just to be clear, the purpose of your online community is to help you either prevent a problem or fulfill an opportunity. If you don’t approach it with that mindset, the results will be unclear and it will feel like a waste of time. The right online community software will end up saving you a good amount of time and money by integrating all of the tools you need in one place. In this post I want to help you understand the step and right questions to ask when determining the best online community software for organization.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problems are you trying to solve in your organization?
  • What opportunities are you trying to fulfill in your organization?
  • What are key metrics that indicate a successful effort in reaching your goal?
  • Who plays a big role in reaching your current goals? (Customers, prospects, employees, etc.)
  • Where are the people that you need as part of your online community? (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • How much time do you or someone in your organization have to allocate toward an online community effort?

By asking these questions you will start to formulate a thought process on the type of online community you need and the necessary features/integrations that it should include. I will cover a few examples of how to match goals with the right online community software below. But first, let’s take a look at some of the online community software that you might want to consider.

Here is a short list of possible online community software platforms:

There are several other types of online community software platforms available, but these are just a few so you have an idea. Below is a few examples of how you might want to match your goals with the right online community software platform.

Goal: Increase customer service rating by “x”.
Suggested online community software: Customer Support Online Community
Features you might want added:

  • Submit a ticket capability
  • Customer blog
  • Allowing customers to submit ideas
  • FAQ section
  • Automatic email notifications when new tickets are added/updated

Goal: Increase sales revenue by “x”.
Suggest online community community software: Custom Branded Social Network
Features you might want added:

  • Social media invitations
  • Private messaging
  • Discussions area
  • Email marketing capability within system
  • Member import
  • Blog section
  • Social sharing tools
  • Event calendar
  • Lead forms
  • Possible e-commerce capability

Goal: Increase passive income from sharing expertise
Suggested online community software: Pay-For-Access Membership Site
Features you might want to include:

  • Paywall capabilities making potential members pay to access content
  • Drip campaign capability to deliver content in sequential order for new members
  • Video recording
  • Podcast recording
  • Share documents
  • Member profile
  • Membership billing management

This should give you an idea behind the thought process in choosing the right online community software for your organization. Along with the right online community software, you need to make sure that you understand the purpose behind it and how you are going to execute it.

What questions do you have in choosing the right online community software for your organization?

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