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5 Things You Need from Your Community Management Platform
Making conversations the center of innovation and business strategy.
Posted Jun 7, 2010
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Social media and Enterprise 2.0 are changing the way companies define, manage and engage with communities. Today, employees, customers, partners and prospects are discussing brands, products and companies on a global scale.

According to a recent report from the Altimeter Group, there were 50 million tweets a day on Twitter and time spent on Facebook increased by 10 percent in January 2010 alone. The challenge for community managers is figuring out how and when to engage with these conversations; internally and externally. The conversations will continue whether the enterprise chooses to engage or not.

The question for Enterprise 2.0 in 2010–2011 is how to securely bring the company beyond the firewall into a space where communities and conversations, both internally and externally, are the norm and are the center of innovation and business strategy.

The market provides several applications and tools to monitor conversations. But a conversation is only fruitful if you can take action on it. Community managers should look for solutions that deliver all the capabilities they need to maintain and manage communities, and bring the best back ideas and conversation back into the organization for action. So what should a company expect from a social business solution? Here are five key features.

1. Internal and External Communities in a Single Platform: The key to leveraging social business is bringing the right people together internally and externally, to turn conversations into ideas, and then into new products and services. Internally, solutions need to bring colleagues together across organizational lines. Externally, they need to foster communication between partners, customers and prospects in a secure way, and match them with the right internal process to get things done. If a platform only does one or the other, it misses the external to internal loop that is necessary to drive innovation.

2. Advanced Community Management: Community management platforms need to be flexible, and that flexibility is a community managers' most powerful tool. Solutions need to provide advanced levels of permissions allowing internal and external people to be managed differently, but within the same community. To do this, they need to have power at the profile level and the ability to connect not only groups and communities, but also individuals. By doing this, conversations thrive; external conversations move into internal ideation, parallel conversations threads blossom and new levels of collaboration between customers and groups such as engineering or innovation are formed.

3. Advanced Analytics: Not all conversations are created equally. Social Business Platforms should be able to analyze the value of a conversation in real time. Companies need to understand which conversations are critical to multiple audiences or key communities. By knowing what is hot and what is not, companies can filter and focus their efforts, easily identify new ideas and spend 80 percent of their effort on the 20 percent of conversations that really matter.

4. Web 2.0 Features: Community management platforms must include all the power of Web 2.0 in a single platform. By doing this, you allow people to interact in their groups and communities in the way that suits them best. Rich profiles, micro blogging, bookmarks, wiki documents, video, document sharing, events, polling, questions, and ideation can all come together to provide a better more lively experience in your communities.

5. From Idea to Reality: As we said before, a conversation is only fruitful if it leads to achieving something. Community management platforms must have an ideation process built into the product so you can bring the best ideas internally to be evaluated, discussed and hopefully built into new products and services. This should include the ability to add new concepts, continue conversations, and value-add events like polling, project management and document sharing — allowing you to see every good idea come to fruition.

Communities and groups come in all shapes and sizes. With a good platform you should have the ability to manage multiple communities in a simple and easy way that makes the experience exciting and valuable for both internal and external members. If companies are able to listen and engage in conversations with their employees, customers, partners and prospects, they will create passionate communities around their brands, helping them gain the insight needed to move their business forward.

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About the Author

Carlos Diaz (carlos@bluekiwi-software.com) is the cofounder of blueKiwi Software, and has more than 10 years of entrepreneurship and strategic management experience. A recognized expert on enterprise social software, his passion is helping corporations create robust communities that impact the bottom line. 

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Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors

You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" below.

If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

For the rest of the June 2010 issue of CRM magazine — our second annual Social Media Issue, this year focused on communities — please click here.

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