The Problem With Tweaking The Community Platform

October 20, 2011Comments Off on The Problem With Tweaking The Community Platform

I’ve recently begun asking Professional Community Managers for their opinions on various branded communities. What would they do if they were manager of MarriotInsiderRewards or what did Ducati do wrong?

One trend is pretty clear, we think nearly all problems can be solved by changing the platform.

We're wrong.

Sometimes, though, we're half-right. If you have a lot of members beginning the registration process and few finishing it, tweaking the registration process might be a great idea. If you have lots of members joining, but few participating, it might makes sense to optimize that first contribution.

But these are the special-case exceptions rather than the rule. There are three broad problems here: 

1) Technology can be hard to change. Many community managers are stuck with platforms they can't change. They can waste a lot of time, money and energy when there are better solutions to their problems. Worse still, the focus on technology can mask the real problems in the community.

2) Most problems don't need a technology fix. If very few people are visiting your platform, then tweaking the platform wont be much help. You need a strategy for growth and retention. You need to change your processes to focus upon growth.

3) The best solutions are usually social-activities. I guarantee you that actually doing things in the community like prompting people to participate, starting interesting discussions, initiating events, writing content that mentions members by name will achieve better results. 

Technology might be the visible element that we can see can fix, but it's rarely the solution to most community problems.

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