08 March 2009 16:09pm
I'm doing a bit of research on programming options for SNS, some
more DIY and some more customisable ones. I'm sending out a few
feelers to see if anyone's had much experience of using any Whitelabels
for setting up a community / network that integrates well with a main
site. I’d be keen to know if there are good white labels people have
used, and also what the more bespoke platforms people have had success
(or not) with.....
I don't know if you've been following this report : http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/01/09/forrester-wave-community-platforms-2009/ that has looked into a lot of white labels, it's very handy. But I'd also like to get folks personal feedback.
I'm looking at a few, like Ning, KickApps, OneSite, as well as some of the more programmable options . .
I’m just trying to get as much feedback as possible on what the pros
and cons of various sites are. Some of the main things that are
important are :
Ability to have private and public space
Take your content with you – not just member data, but for members to be able to export their content that have uploaded
Feed to other sites / blogs / sns / media sharing. Apps for sharing on other sites – pref ones that aren’t clunky!
Ease of importing from other sites
Customisation of CSS / design – and not just choosing from range of themes – want to be able to fully customise the CSS
Flexible apps / open API to develop bespoke features
Any thoughts, feedback, or pointers at community sites that have been
set up for companies that have performed well / and what they are built
on would be fab.
Founding Partner & CEO at Essence
10 March 2009 18:15pm
Looks like you've already got a great starting point there.
One not on your list that we've had a few discussions with is French player Scroon. At Essence, we've been considering them for a potential project. They are particularly focussed on video sharing/social networks (think YouTube but in a white-label/closed environment) across both web and mobile. For the record, we have absolutely no affiliation with them and we haven't worked with them - so I can't comment on the specifics of their capabilities/platform - but you might want to check them out.
In reality, when we've dug deeper in the past we've found white labelled platforms to be lacking in flexiblity for our previous projects in the social networking arena (which includes things like www.givetakedonate.org and MyProjects both for Cancer Research). However, for what it is worth I think the white label platforms are getting there and using such platforms will be a viable option in the future - whether they are 'there' yet I honestly don't know.
Owner at Digital Juggler
11 March 2009 14:21pm
One to add to your list is EpiServer Community @ http://www.episerver.com/en/Products/EPiServer-Community/
This technology is behind some really successful community sites like MotorcycleNews.com, CommunityofSweden.com & Pacemaker.net
EpiServer also runs its own partner portal from this platform @ world.episerver.com
Disclaimer: EpiServer is a core technology partner of ours.
I've also recently come across Reality Digital and SocialGo though the latter looks relevant to small business and not enterprise level (that is based on first impression, not an exhaustive analysis).
Jeremiah's blog that you link to is a great source of info, he certainly knows his stuff inside out.
Msc Student - Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University
25 March 2009 15:30pm
Hi James and MattThank you so much for your suggestions.It is really interesting to see what sites people are creating with / outwith whitelabels. Scroon looks good, it's one I hadn’t heard of so great to know. Episerver was another new one to me, and had a good look around some of their sites and seems pretty flexible. I’m still having a look about if I discover any other new ones I’ll let you know.Thanks again,Lynsey
MD at FreshNetworks
13 April 2009 09:17am
Hi there,If it's a UK-based online communities provider you're after then check out FreshNetworks. We're a white-label provider of online communities and our HQ is in London.
I think that's important because successful communities are less about technology and more about strategy and Community Management than most people think. Jeremiah is a big proponent of that.
And a few thoughts on your specific questions:
- Content and data - if you want full control over user data then you need a enterprise-level online community. This is where Facebook Groups and Ning fall down a bit (although they are excellent in other regards)
- Feeds to other sites - a couple of things to look for here, OpenID integration and Facebook Connect as standard (which FreshNetworks offers) and it's also worth digging deeper on what can be turned into a feed. We spent a lot of time ensuring that any stream of content - from additions to someone's profile to comments on a video, can be turned into a feed.
- Ease of importing. Sorry, there's no way for you to really work this out unless you get deep into the data source and the platforms you are considering. It's a situation-specific issue rather than a general one.
- Customisation and bespoke builds - worth noting that many of the companies in Jeremiah's list have built their business model on the basis of one-size-fits-all. Having said that many of them now offer quite a lot of customisations (so long as you pay). I went on a tour of all the best US providers last year. I think Liveworld stood out as the one most into customisation (e.g. they did a $1M bespoke build for Nascar)
- Reporting is an area you have not asked about but which is essential if you're expecting to build a community with a lot of traffic.
- Community management tools are another oft-overlooked requirement of a good platform. If you get thousands of people, how can you keep the community management burden/job streamlined and efficient?
But please remember (I can't say it too often): success in communities is more about planning and the community management than it is about the technology. So I'd suggest that you should be asking more questions about how a provider will help make sure people visit and stay at your community than you ask about some of these other factors.
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