How to Select the Best Online Community Management Software
Online Community Management Software are powerful and integrated tools with different functionalities built to create and manage online communities effectively. With this software, you can build, grow, manage and even brand online communities. Online communities, otherwise known as internet communities constitute a group of people who interact and connect with each other through the internet. Examples of online communities include business forums, academic communities, chat rooms, gaming forums and other groups of people with aligned interests. The several ways through which people can join these internet communities include video games, email links, blogs and even social media. To ensure that the goal of establishing an internet community is achieved, there is need for some sort of management. Online Community Management software helps cater for the activities directed towards creating value for users and establishing the desired relationship between a business and its online customers. Managing an online community could prove difficulty at times, especially when you have to monitor a long list of users. Hence the need for an online community management software.
Online community management tools are becoming increasingly important for communities that want to stand out in the cyberspace. There are several factors to consider in online communities, and they are often difficult to manage. Online community management software help to manage these factors and reduce the human effort that goes into this management. The online community management software helps make the work of the online manager very easy. These management tools help with several tasks such as public relations. It is important for online communities to promote themselves via the internet, and an online community management computer software can help with internet marketing. These computer applications also help with improving relationship with customers, managing the overall collaborative processes of the communities, and several other tasks. The online community management software is very important to businesses in this internet age.
What are the Features of Online Community Management Software
Different online community management tools are built with different features and functionalities, depending on the purpose and nature of the virtual community being managed. These features make the online community management software the perfect tool to enable you to engage and ensure a positive user experience, some of them are: blog creation and management, crowdsourcing, forums and discussion boards, event management, content management, analytics, member management, media library, email notification, data synchronization, search functionality, flexibility and user privacy.
- Blog Creation and management: With the blog creation and management feature, you can set up & manage blogs that enable individuals to create and share content that are useful to your business and other users.
- Forums and Discussion Boards: This feature improves communication between users by allowing them to create and follow threads, post and respond to questions, share ideas and also make inquiries.
- Content Management: Good website content is very important to the success of any business; this feature allows you to create exciting website content and also monitor how users responds to these posts.
- Gamification/Crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing involves engaging a crowd or a group of people in the bid to reach a certain goal; companies can boost user engagement using various crowdsourcing tools such as polls, surveys, interpretation maps and even games.
- Recurring reports and Analytics: You can program your software to provide you with recurring reports compiled based on the performance of your online community; these reports often include information such as content shared, user engagement, site interactions and lots more
- Media Libraries: This feature allows you to provide your users with files stored in a centralized location, it often includes personalized user permissions to allow you control media library access.
- Event Management: The online community management software allows you promote events and conferences to your audience; the event management feature allows you to register users online, publicize your event and even manage sponsorships.
- Member Management: The strength of any online community is the amount of member it can accommodate; this feature enables new users to create profiles and enables existing users access other important functionalities
- Search Functionality: The online community management software also features a search functionality that allows users view previous posts and comments by searching for them.
- User Privacy & Security: online community management tools are designed to prevent privacy risks and security breaches by dissuading users from sharing sensitive information and also ensuring that the system is hack-proof.
- Data Synchronization: This is a very sophisticated feature as it enables you to transfer member information from the online community management software to your customer relationship management (CRM) system and vice versa
- Email Notifications: This Software should be built with an email notification system that send users messages about updates, brand promotions or events via email; it could also feature an automatic login email link that allows users connect easily with the online community.
- Flexibility: You should ensure that your online community management software is customizable, this way you can make it user friendly by configuring the landing page, menu, banners and other important content.
What are the Types of Online Community Management Software
Because online communities are created for different purposes, online community management tools are classified based on their uses. The different types include:
- Consumer to Consumer Software: This is a type of Online Community Management Software that allows consumers to create and manage online communities to engage other consumers. Some of its features include private messaging, forums, group management and user profiles.
- Business to Business Software: It allows businesses to interact with similar businesses allowing them partner with each other and also create awareness about their brand. Some of its peculiar features include business profiles, sponsorship tools and other business-related features
- Business to Consumer Software: With this type of software, you can create a platform that allows businesses to engage old and prospective consumers in a bid to promote their business. Some of its capabilities include branded forums, media library, event management and lots more.
What are the KPI's of Online Community Management Software
- High Return on Investment: This is one of the best ways to judge the performance of an online community management software; You have to make sure that you are getting enough value for your investment, otherwise you need to replace your software.
- Customer Feedback: Customer reviews is one of the other ways to check if your software is performing well or not; positive reviews are an indication that your software is performing well.
- Security: A lot of information is stored on the online community management software; therefore, it is only important that the software is secure enough to protect user privacy and other important information.
What are the Benefits of Online Community Management Software
- Customer Retention: The online community management software provides you a sustainable platform with which you can maintain good relationships with old customers.
- Customer Attraction: The online community management software enables you to reach out to a larger audience, more than other forms of marketing allows you.
- Improved Brand Reputation: With the online community management software, you can present your brand to consumers in a new light, which on the long run helps your business by increasing sales and customer loyalty.
- Efficient and Cost-effective Marketing: the online community management software allows you to reach out to a larger group of people in relatively short time in a bid to promote your business; running ads costs considerably more.
- Reduced support costs: You get to invest less in customer care centers and support staff when you use the online community management software as it allows you to tackle customer problems effectively and efficiently.
- Double Sided Platforms: This means that you can leverage customer feedbacks to enable you build for the future:
- Customer Feedback: Other than use online forms or emails you can get direct feedback from your customers using the forum and discussion board feature of the online community management software.
What are the Latest trends in Online Community Management Software
- Increased Automation: Advancement in Artificial intelligence, Machine learning and Application Program interfaces (APIs) is going to lead to increased automation in online community activities enabling online community managers to focus on other important activities.
- Mobile Solutions: A lot of online community management software are built with responsive designs that enable them perform effectively across a wide range of devices.
How to choose the right Online Community Management Software
You should keep the following factors in mind when looking to purchase an online community management software.
- Integration Capabilities: You should opt for a software that allows you to seamlessly transfer data between this software and other business applications (e.g. customer relationship management (CRM), marketing and others) to reduce duplicates.
- Ease of use: It is particularly important to ensure that the interface of your software is intuitive and that users can communicate with each other easily without help.
- Privacy & Security: For a lot of internet users, privacy and security is a big concern; therefore, it is of utmost importance for you to choose a system that protects the privacy of your users.
- User Engagement Toolkit: it is necessary that your customer relationship management (CRM) include features like discussion boards, Survey and polls and interactive maps to enable users make the most of the platform.
- Support: Although no platform is built to have user queries, but in case of a problem there should be standby support to enable you fix them.
- Pricing: It is necessary that you choose a software that provides optimal value to your business while also remaining within your budget