Believe it or not, the time people invest in big box platforms — such as Facebook or Twitter — is decreasing. There are many reasons for this, including social and economic motivations, as well as social media’s declining reputation. Facebook is currently getting hammered, as is warranted, due to their handling of sensitive user data. Since the 2016 elections, the company has dealt with a consistent decline in approval ratings.
Social networks also tend to be more noisy, particularly when it comes to politics, an incredibly polarizing topic these days. Discussions often breed aggression and hostility, hindering any opportunity for positive interactions, much less community-building with customers. Not to mention the ad-revenue model baked into the platform, which seems to violate even the simplest communities or groups with their off-topic content.
This has led to a widespread community migration where users are flocking to alternate platforms. Below, we've rounded up the best tips for how to approach a community migration.
Niche online communities are growing in popularity, not just because of the decline of brand-name platforms, but also because community managers are seeking more nuanced controls. There’s a certain allure to building a homegrown network where the administrators have complete control and access to additional capabilities.
For instance, news feeds and chat features are becoming desirable assets for digital communities. Brands understandably want their online spaces to be as targeted and unique as possible, but the out-of-the-box tools that are offered by these traditional social media platforms just aren’t making the grade.
So naturally, community managers and their most loyal followers are moving house. But things aren’t as simple as that. One monumental problem is that you must bring your users along with you. If they don’t follow and adopt the new platform then the community will likely suffer, if only at first.
Let’s be honest: As much as we all would like to move away from platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, they are now so ingrained in our habits, it’s become almost ritualistic to lean on them. But we can migrate off Facebook or LinkedIn for community. We just need a plan!
There is a lot of value in providing an “owned” or custom space for your community’s growth.
For starters, as a community manager, you instantly have more control. You’re no longer confined to the functionality of the host platform. You can look at the growing marketing of community tech providers and mobile apps, hire a small development team, or code everything in-house to get your hands on desirable functions and features. You become the decision maker and decide what is right for your community.
Conventional social media pales in comparison. Big box platforms tend to be more shallow, whereas your objective is building genuine connections with your company’s audience.
In addition, you no longer fall under the purview of a third party. Instead, you have full and exclusive control — and rights — over what content is produced and shared. You can run your own ads and promotions (or not). You can also monetize channels and content in whatever way you choose.
Management is made easier with more direct controls. Communities become simplified and focused. Additionally, community engagement is instantly more meaningful, as membership in this space is highly targeted to begin with. This helps foster strong, successful relationships between users and administrative crews.
Perhaps all these benefits help explain why the online communities market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2019. In fact, 74% of large companies have established online communities already, whereas only 40% of small businesses have one.
The question then becomes: how do you make the move? How do you successfully execute a community migration from one platform to another? How do you ensure engagement and support remain the same or improve?
To be fair, you don’t have to leave the current platform or system you’re using. We are not saying everything you’re doing is wrong or these major social networks are bad. In fact, they may be just the fit for your community needs. But we are seeing a trend with community managers struggling with this decision. Whatever your reasons for switching platforms may be, know that you have the power.
As a community manager, you have the power to make the right decision about what platform is best for your community.[/caption]Whether you choose a platform migration or not, the role of the average community manager has never been more important. The need to achieve better systems, processes, content, and satisfaction rests solely on their shoulders — yours, if you’re a community manager. It’s daunting, but you’ve got this.
With the help of these tips, you can ensure your community stays healthy no matter where it’s based! You see, a community is about much more than a group of people gathered in the same (digital) place. It’s about the connections that are formed within its boundaries. To encourage those connections, the channel has to align with the engagement strategy and the communication format that best suits the community.
Have you executed a successful community migration? Join the conversation in the CMX Community!