Build a rock-solid online community platform isn’t something you can achieve overnight. In fact, it’s far more about fostering a business culture of long-term success than focusing on short-term gains. To that end, relying entirely on social media marketing isn’t going to cut it. With engagement rates at an all-time low combined with the lack of control when using third-party platforms like Facebook or Twitter, social media marketing isn’t getting any easier. 

To succeed, customer-centric organisations need to think about building their own platforms over which they have control and are better placed to align their community with the needs of the business. Online communities may provide peer-to-peer support, product ideation or build upon customer success by giving people a place to share their ideas, tips, and experiences. Many successful communities combine all of these. 

The first step is to choose an online community platform that accommodates your goals and offers an exceptional user experience that’s going to keep members engaged. There’s a lot more to it than simply installing the latest forum software on your website and hoping people will come flocking to your new community. Here are some of the features and abilities that you should be looking for:

Accessibility

The main reason why over 90% of businesses are using social media for marketing purposes is because it’s so accessible. With over two-billion people regularly checking in on Facebook on their desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, it’s easy to see why companies are drawn to these enormous audiences. Unfortunately, this also means it’s almost impossible to get heard and make a meaningful impact.

To get your customers off Facebook and spending time in your community, you’ll need to offer a familiar experience. Many successful brand social networks work because they’re built using online community platforms that are highly accessible and require no learning curve. With the huge number of different devices people use to access the web daily, it’s imperative that your community platform provides an optimized user experience that works for everyone.

Flexibility

One of the most common reasons for businesses to fail in today’s fast-paced market is that their systems and processes can’t keep up with demand. They can’t scale and adapt to change quickly enough, so they end up missing out on opportunities and failing to innovate. When you go to all the effort of building an online community, the last thing you want is for it to fall flat on its face because it grows so fast that it becomes impossible to manage.

When it comes to online community platforms, scalability isn’t just about how many members your community can accommodate. It’s more about how it scales and adapts to the changing needs of your business. That’s why you need something that’s always up to date, powered by data-driven insights, and possible to integrate with your wider technology environment. Your community is a dynamic entity that’s constantly evolving; hence flexibility is a must.

Security

Society is becoming increasingly obsessed with online privacy and security, which is hardly any wonder when you have companies as enormous as Facebook potentially facing regulatory investigations and fines in the tens of millions of euros. Although the overall user counts are growing, younger generations are starting to pack their bags and set their sights on close-knit communities, with many citing security and privacy concerns as the reasons.

To be successful, businesses need to be transparent, and they can hardly entrust a company like Facebook or Twitter to safeguard their data. With an online community platform that puts security and privacy first, you get to be in control. Instead of having to worry about your data being sold to third-parties or misappropriated by unethical organisations, it should be yours alone to work with. That in itself is an important selling point for getting people to sign up. 

Disciple social spaces help brands enjoy all the benefits of community with an independent, valuable and trusted platform in a safe space that they own and control. Start building your brand community by telling us about your community goals.