Switching Online Community Platforms

Replacing your community platform with another might replace your current set of problems with another.

Switching platforms is not a silver bullet to increasing engagement or the end of your technology challenges.

This doesn’t mean it doesn’t help. Some of our clients have seen great success switching platforms. But it’s a calculated risk. You need to know the risks and how to navigate them.


  • Members will be upset for 1 to 3 months. They will express this publicly. Prepare both your community and your team to ride this out. Watch what people are doing not what they are saying.
  • Visiting and participation habits will be disrupted. The greater the change, the bigger the disruption. The metrics you’re measured by might drop significantly. Don’t panic. Ignore the sudden spikes or dips immediately after the launch. Wait and see the trends after a few weeks.
  • Your search traffic might decline. Any structural change will affect search rankings of hundreds (or thousands) of content items. This can become a sharp decrease in new visitors to the community. Speak to a technical SEO consultant before you’ve made the shift. New platforms can easily create a lot of thin content.
  • New technology challenges will arise. You might solve one set of challenges to be replaced by many others. Be informed about the likely challenges. Read reviews of Lithium, Jive, Salesforce, Telligent, HigherLogic, and Vanilla etc… to learn what these problems might be. They won’t come up on sales calls.
  • The implementation will take longer and cost more than you anticipate. Prepare for the implementation to take far longer than you expected and for additional costs to arise to fix new bugs. Add a 15% contingency budget. Even the more detailed of plans need revision once they’re live.

Switching platforms often makes sense, just don’t underestimate the total cost of doing it.

p.s. Remember this week to submit your reviews to our online community comparison tool.
p.p.s. Happy to help.


  1. Mark Schwanke says:

    I’ve switched platforms a couple times with various organizations. It’s always a challenge no matter how careful and calculated you are. Setting proper expectations and being receptive to feedback are vital. The work isn’t done when the migration is complete. It continues for months.

  2. Richard Millington says:

    I’m not sure the work is ever really done at all.

    I think every single organization I speak to always has plans for further development.

  3. Mark Schwanke says:

    Richard. Sorry I was talking about the “migration” doesn’t end when the content and people are moved over to the new site. The activities continue long after the bulk of the content is moved. Management might think it is over when the old site is sun-setted but I haven’t found that to be true.

    And yes. New development hopefully continues after the migration is complete. You can’t build it and assume that what you built is what they’re going to use.

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