The Myth of The Single Integrated Community Hub
The integrated community hub is a seductive idea.
Imagine it! A single destination which combines blogs, forums, groups, events, training, ideation, advocacy, webinars, case studies, documentation. Better yet, it’s integrated with your customer database. You will know exactly what kind of activities your customers participate in.
Every member can access everything through a single login.
The problem is this often works better in theory than in practice.
Part of the problem is members don’t see it this way. Members who have loved visiting the same forum, scanning activity, and reading the discussions that interest them now have to trawl through much more clutter.
Often the single, secure, login automatically logs members out every week (or, sometimes, every day). Which drives members nuts. No-one wants to log in every time they want to participate. Sometimes members simply have no interest in doing all the other things.
A bigger problem is the benefits aren’t as clear as you might think. Migrations like these are costly in both time and resources. They put all other community projects on hold for months, even years. And few organizations genuinely do much with all the extra data they have on their customers/community participation.
Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. But before you do it you should be clear about the problem you’re trying to solve.
If your current web platform will soon be unsupported, has security issues, or may go out of business, that’s a good reason.
If members are complaining about the limited functionality, that’s also a good reason.
If staff can clearly articulate what extra data they need and what they will do with the data, that too might be a good reason.
Remember the goal isn’t to make a better experience for you managing the community, but for members experiencing the community. This means you need members involved and guiding the process. If you can’t do that, you should probably stick with what you have.