Online communities have proven value and you need one:
- A low cost and trusted customer service channel
- A focus group that will yield better results than a survey
- A way to interact with and build trust with your customers
Great. Let’s build that clubhouse, but where? What are the features we want? How can we provide a great user experience? How much will it cost?
If you are looking to do this on the cheap, LinkedIn Groups or a G+ Community (yes Google Plus is still around), are fine options without any cost to you. The snag with both is limited or no reporting regarding community health as well as cataloging / recalling conversations. Check out both by joining group on both platforms (before starting yours) and make notes of what you like and what you don’t. Maybe you do have some money to spend.
If paid options don’t scare you, I recommend Jive and Lithium. Both of these platforms are easy for your customers to use and can be utilized for internal and external communities. There is quite a bit more set up required for these options, but the reporting and user experience is much better.
No matter your budget, do not go forth without a Community Manager, clear goals for your community, and metrics that define success. Building a community takes time and I am happy to discuss that too; first decide where you want to build your clubhouse.
As always, your comments and questions are most appreciated.