Online interaction is becoming increasingly important. As a result, there is a growing need for online community platforms. Social Brothers developed such a platform for UtrechtINC and for the Rotterdam Makers District. Based on this experience, we give nine tips for setting up an online platform.
1. Know the target audience of your community platform
A platform can only be successful if it matches the wishes and needs of the target group. Therefore, before you start building, make sure you have a good idea of the target group. Who are you building this community platform for? Draw up a clear profile of your ideal user. Then think further from the perspective of that user: what does he really need? With which functionalities would you really help him a step forward?
2. Think of relevance to your target audience
From the questions of tip 1, you can ensure that your platform is relevant to your target group and offers added value compared to existing (general) platforms, such as LinkedIn. Does the platform connect people who don't know or encounter each other in real life? Then make sure there are sufficient network options, for example via a face book and the possibility to exchange messages. Is there a need to join forces, for example by sharing meeting space on a business park? Then give the opportunity here.
3. Make use of user stories and paper prototyping
For tip 1 and 2 it is useful to use user stories. These are short descriptions of who the user is, what he wants and why. A commonly used structure is:
so that I..
Worked out, this could look like this:
As an employee in a large company with multiple locations
do I want access to contact details of colleagues in another branch
so that I can easily contact you.
With user stories you get a good view of the needs of your target group and you can provide relevant functionalities on your platform. In a paper prototype, the various stakeholders work together on a potential solution. The result is a paper prototype of the possible solution that takes into account the wishes of all stakeholders. This way you ensure that all interests are included in the final design. An easy and efficient way to serve all interests.
4. Make sure the platform is technically well put together
Follow the previous tips before you start building the platform. This tip is related to the construction phase. Make sure that your design is technically completely in order. Social Brothers uses wireframes for this. This creates a schematic overview of the platform. They give a good idea of the solution that will be realised. These wireframes can also be tested via a click scheme.
5. Don't launch until it really works
Of course you want to have your platform online as soon as possible. However, do not forget to test it extensively beforehand. If your platform is not working properly, you will lose users. The chances of them coming back are slim. That makes it important to test the platform at every stage and only launch it when it really works well.
6. Get User Commitment
A platform stands or falls with active users. That is why it is important to ensure user commitment. There must be enough active users who regularly come to get and bring something. To realize this, we will fall back on tip 2: relevance. If your target audience really benefits from the platform, they will be happy to come back for more and they will be more willing to contribute.
7. Celebrate your successes!
Don't be too modest and show the results of your platform. Whether it's the first milestone of a hundred users or the acquisition of a customer that you would not have had without the network: always show what it delivers. This motivates others to participate as well or to make more use of the platform.
8. Measure = know
Do data research and make sure you know what is happening on the platform. How many active users are there? Which functionalities are most used? Which posts are viewed most often? Only hard numbers can really tell you what is happening on the platform and what this yields for your company or other companies.
9. Keep listening
In line with tip 8: keep listening and developing. A community platform is never finished. The needs of the community can change, so it's important that you continue to develop the platform to meet the needs of your target audience. Perhaps meeting room sharing works so well that there is a greater need for shared spaces? If placing ads is going very fast, think of implementing a categorical classification to ensure that everyone can keep an overview, etc.
Want to know more?
Would you like to see examples of a community platform? Or do you want to know which different functionalities are possible? You can read that in our blog 'How do you build a business community platform?'
Do you need help building your own online community platform? contact on. Social Brothers is happy to work for you.
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