The Purpose of Community Platforms

The platform for a community performs a single function: to facilitate interaction between members. An excellent community platform improves the quality and quantity of interactions between members. A bad community platform inhibits interactions between members. 

Unfortunately, many organizations use platforms which restrain the growth of their communities.

The platform is one method of facilitating interactions since for most online communities it is the only place where members will interact with each other. This is not a certainty, though. Many organizations develop platforms that are aesthetically pleasing, in line with other brand material, and clearly adhering to modern user experience principles. There is a problem with each of these aspects, but first we need to understand the biggest flaw in organizational thinking towards community platforms.

A content-led approach is common amongst branded online communities. Aesthetics and content is given higher priority than the interactions. This platform prohibits interactions between members. Many organizations develop a platform using a similar approach as a traditional website. In this approach, the designer/developer identifies what is needed and embraces this knowledge to design the platform. However, a community platform and a company website serve two different purposes. The former services to facilitate interactions between members, the latter serves to provide information to the target audience.

Ignoring the positive examples

Many organizations fail to research positive examples of online communities before embarking upon the development of their own platform. This means these organizations ignore best practices in favour of developing a community that adheres to more aesthetically pleasing concepts like those found in company websites.

Thus, whilst most successful communities use a simple, proven, interaction-focused platform, most organizations develop a custom, unproven, expensive community platform. 

comments powered by Disqus

Every few weeks, Ning invites a leading expert to discuss trending topics and best practices for community management. Watch the recordings here.

More than two million people have built a branded social network on Ning. Many of these customers now enjoy thriving online communities. You can find a few of those success stories here.

Learn what it takes to thrive and see what it is possible to achieve with Ning.

Growing a thriving online community is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

Our goal at Ning is to make building a community dead simple. We provide an incredibly reliable, popular, and easy-to-use platform so you can focus on cultivating your community.

Learn how to start your community in minutes.

Have you considered monetizing your community? Download your free copy of Monetizing Online Forums by Patrick O'Keefe to learn what methods are available, how to implement them, and how you can benefit today.