Key Factors to Consider When Picking a New Community Software

Allison Rouleau

Choosing the right online community software for your business is crucial as it can have a significant impact on the success of your community. Having a deep understanding of your current and near-term business needs is paramount before diving into the investigation and evaluation process of platform selection. 

Without that, you will be spinning your wheels and making little progress. There are a wide variety of platforms to choose from in the market with different areas of focus. We can assist you in finding the right software platform to meet your specific needs. 

It’s important to evaluate your business needs, the key uses of your community, who it is for and what purpose is the community serving. We’ll do a deeper dive on this soon, but for now here are factors you need to consider whether you are looking to replace your current Intranet for your employees, migrating a customer or partner community or a knowledge base or collaboration space for your employees (independent of your intranet).

Here are the top factors to consider:

  • Features: Look for software that offers the features you need to create a successful community. This may include forums, blogs, chat rooms, social media integration, user profiles, and analytics. The right features will help you engage with your community members and drive participation.
  • Usability: Consider how easy the software is to use, both for you as the administrator and for your community members. A user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate will help you save time and increase engagement.
  • Scalability: Is scalability an essential factor for your business? You may want to consider a software platform that can handle a large number of users and can scale up as your community grows. This will ensure that you do not outgrow your software as your community expands.
  • Pricing: Consider the cost of the software and ensure that it fits within your budget. The right platform will provide you with value for money and help you achieve your business goals.

Functionality-based factors

  • Content: Some community platforms focus on publishing and content management, while others democratize content and information, with the activity feed at the heart of the product. Consider the type of content that your community members will create and consume and choose a platform that meets those needs.
  • Collaboration: Some are full-featured collaboration platforms that one company may describe as robust and another may describe as overwhelming. Some are simple to use and set up but lack third-party integrations. Consider your team's collaboration needs and choose a platform that supports them.
  • Tech: Each product has a different level of technical extensibility. Meaning, some platforms are easier than others for the customer or a third-party partner like Social Edge to enhance with new widgets or integrate with other tools.

What additional factors have our clients considered outside of the purpose and functionality of their communities?

Many organizations prefer to consolidate their technology to one of the larger software companies in the industry. These are typically large companies that use a more top-down communications approach. Others recognize the importance of teamwork and prefer community platforms that offer two-way collaboration and engagement.

New players come into view each year. Those newer companies that are only a few years old (or less) are not burdened by design decisions made years ago that may box in more experienced players from pivoting to the needs of today’s consumers. 

However, while newer, more nimble companies often perform some functions at a best-of-class level, other needs are not always addressed. 

At Social Edge, we are continually evaluating and expanding the software partners we work with for both internal and external facing communities. Many times it is one or more of our 600+ clients that introduce us to a software vendor we are not currently working with to evaluate the platform and possibly partner with them.

“I emailed Social Edge, explained our most important community needs, and was sent a list of several platforms to consider, based on our needs (size, audience, integrations, and growth), and why each was worth consideration.”

Kate Weaver

Director of Extranet Communities

Heath Catalyst

Our Current Community Software Partners

Here is the most current list of software vendors we partner with today. Some have situations where they can be leveraged for internal, external or both. Also, we don’t limit ourselves to only working with these providers. We’ve done migrations outside of this list. 

Verint, Igloo, Microsoft, Jive, LumApps, Khoros, Simpplr, Unily, Salesforce, Higher Logic
Verint, Igloo, Microsoft, Jive, LumApps, Khoros, Simpplr, Unily, Salesforce, Higher Logic

It's essential to take your time when choosing new online community software and consider all of these factors to ensure that you choose the right platform for your business.

Our team has extensive experience helping customers choose their platform and we can assist you in evaluating your options and selecting a new platform. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find the platform that’s right for you.