The Community Club

Discussion on: Building Community...what platform to use??

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Alex Angel

I think Mindaugas and Peter have some great insights, and I figured I'd add a brief recommendation as well.

Honestly, the platform itself doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, and each community has its own needs so there's no "right" or "best" solution. Which I know sounds like a non-answer to your question, but ultimately you should first think about the goals of your community. What purpose does it serve? How do you want people interacting with each other? How do YOU want to interact with them? What does success look like? Who is your ideal community member and where are they hanging out online already? Is one platform enough, or do you need multiple to accomplish your goals? This is not an exhaustive list of questions you should think about, but hopefully it'll get you started.

Once you get a better feeling of the above, then you can start doing pro/con lists for platforms. For example, if you want people to be able to chat in real-time, a forum is probably not the right choice for launch (though it may eventually make the most sense for your community, and you can always add on a forum or switch over... which is what we did!). Even though it may seem daunting, you can (almost) always change platforms at a later time and bring your community members along with you.

My one piece of advice is to NOT use Facebook as a community platform. I won't rant about it here, but I'm happy to chat with you offline about my reasoning :D

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Susan Zhang

Hi there - would you mind sharing with me why you would advise against Facebook? My company already has a Facebook group for our user community, and I'm currently digging into whether we should stay, or migrate to another platform. Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Alex Angel

There are a lot of reasons, but here are a few:

  • The frame of mind the users are in can cause issues you wouldn't have to deal with if you were on a different platform. When everything is jumbled together in one big feed, there's no defined boundaries for how someone should behave. People who may be perfectly amicable and rule-following on a different platform may end up being combative or disruptive on Facebook just because that's the state of mind they're in when they're on that particular platform.
  • Moderation can be incredibly frustrating to create a sustainable and healthy community. There are minimal tools available to group admins and moderators.
  • On a personal level, I think Facebook has some morally reprehensible policies and practices and we as community builders need to stand up for what we believe in and support companies who reflect our ideals. This one may not resonate for everyone, but it's one of the reasons why I caution against it.