12 community platforms: a list in development


There are a lot of community platforms on the market today and we thought it would be useful to collate a complete list of them.

Please let us know if there are any tools missing from the list - think of this as a kind of “wiki” which we will add to over time. We hope it will eventually become a useful community platform tool resource.

  • Drupal - Drupal open source content management system can be used for everything from personal blogs to enterprise applications. You can also build websites and use their “Pagebuild” option which enables non technical users to build their website quickly and easily.
  • Get Satisfaction - a cost effective platform for SME business solutions.
  • Jive - In addition to being a community platform, Jive ‘Engage’ offers collaboration software and social media monitoring.
  • Joomla - Open source and one of the most widely used, with an extensive existing community. It enables you to build websites and powerful online applications.
  • Kickapps - Everything built on the KickApps platform is powered from the same database of users and content, making it easy to create integrated experiences across your site, mobile app, Twitter, Facebook and more. That means you can update every single KickApps-powered experience from one place, keeping everything consistent and up to date, no matter how or where the audience accesses your content
  • Liveworld – They specialise in Facebook Wall, Facebook Forums, Facebook interactive tabs. LiveWorld offers a series of applications and platforms designed to stimulate more conversation and engagement with customers. Comes in more than 60 country/language combinations.
  • Lithium - available in 19 languages and dialects. It plugs customers into one powerful network by creating opportunities for them to engage in a community on your own site and connect to other social customers through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Mzinga – Cloud based community platform enabling you to embed apps and create private/public communities.
  • Ning - claims to be the world’s largest platform for community site building, offering an easily customised structure that can include a real time chat feature. It can also be integrated with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create a digital hub.
  • php-nuke - open source and despite being one of the older, more traditional platforms, it still has a rapidly increasing market-share.
  • Pligg - offers an unlimited number of authors and the ability to add modular plugins to the platform according to your needs and desired social networks.
  • Telligent - Evolution platform which allows for scalability and integration with existing software programmes.

Additions to the list since the post was made:

  • EPiServer Relate - allows you to segment visitors based on location, interests or other profile data, meaning you can personalise each user’s experience to show them relevant articles, content or adverts.
  • Social Engine - social network software that helps you build your own customized community websites.
  • BuddyPress - Open source, out-of-the-box software to help build your own social network.
  • IGLOO - SaaS-based enterprise social networking company. Managed solely in the cloud, IGLOO unites document managementweb content management, collaboration and social features in one integrated suite.

Google+: A social networking site or the future of search engine marketing?


So Google has launched its first foray into social networking with the launch of Google+. Or has it?

This may be somewhat of a conspiracy theory, but a few of us here at FreshNetworks were questioning whether Google+ is about social networking at all, or if it’s about something else…namely, changing the future of search engine marketing (SEM).

Think about point number 2 of Google’s “10 things” manifesto:

‘It’s best to do one thing really, really well. We do search. With one of the world‘s largest research groups focused exclusively on solving search problems, we know what we do well, and how we could do it better.’

So perhaps Google+ is about improving their ‘one thing’ which,  in the words of Google’s co-founder Larry Page, is to make search engines “understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.”

Think about this. Now, when you’re logged in to Google+ and you search for something in Google, the results you get are often different than if you weren’t logged in to Google+. If someone from your ‘Circles’ (connections) has shared a link the relates to your search term then the content they have shared comes up higher in the results, sometimes even at the top of the pile.

Potentially, in the future, this could mean that the more popular pages from within your Circles could outrank those pages that are better optimised in the traditional sense of the word. This is probably why companies, like Plussem, have started targeting Google’s +1 feature and you can now pay companies to “+1″ your website.

What’s more, think about the ‘Sparks’ function in Google. When you search for content within Sparks it returns results that are relevant to an interest you’ve selected. Moving forward, this feed could also return content that people in your Circles have liked at a higher page result. Or it could be used in the way that Google is currently used where the top content is sponsored content, enticing brands and businesses to get involved.

Obviously Google has yet to release where it’s going with Google+. Perhaps Google+  is not about moving SEM forward, or claiming back more of the search engine market from other rivals as some people think.  And if Google want to get brands involved  with Google+, which all the signs suggest they do, then it will be much more than just about search marketing.

So it’s still too early to tell what Google’s plans are but it looks as though Google+ could potentially impact social and search in a big way.

Social business: 10 tips for safe, secure and compliant collaboration


Human pyramid representing collaboration

Image from Flickr courtesy of Keith Williamson

One of the main obstacles stopping companies from embracing a social business model is the fear that opening access to social media for employees will hinder employee productivity, or will open up new security, compliance or privacy concerns.

Sarah Carter, the VP of marketing at Actiance recently put together a presentation which gives businesses 10 top tips for secure collaboration:

Ten Tips to Safe Social Collaboration

1. Understand the landscape

  • Social media is now being departmentalised far more than before -
    • The average organisation in UK now has five Facebook fan pages, instead of just the one, as it was 12 months ago.
    • IBM North America has 39 twitter accounts.
  • By 2014, social media will be the primary interpersonal communication service for 20% of business users instead of email.

2. Consider and address the risks

  • The risks to social business and online collaboration are just the same as before, only now the speed and spread of communications is much greater and faster. Dealing with issues in real time is something you must be prepared for, as well as online reputation and crisis management.
  • Provide a secure, collaboration environment to reduce the risk of data leakage, whether inadvertent or malicious.
  • Social media channels are becoming increasingly targeted by virus and malware hackers. The trusted nature of social networks means people are more likely to click links if it looks as though it was sent through LinkedIn, for example.

3. Understand the legal and regulatory situation

  • As social provides a form of electronic communications, we have to consider the existing regulations affecting communications.
  • Consider retaining the content that is created and shared over social media.
  • Think about archiving commentary between your customers and employees (has added CRM benefits too).

4. Establish a presence

  • It may be necessary to divide your social media presences across a variety of accounts as your HR and marketing departments will have different approaches to how social media will be used.

5. Engage and be engaging

  • Ask questions, participate in groups and Q+A areas of sites and communities.
  • Follow what is going on in the lives of your employees, customer base and even competitors.

6. Consider Enterprise Social

  • It might be necessary to go beyond the major social networks such as Twitter or Facebook for your employees to collaborate. You may like to check out our ‘living’ list of social media collaboration platforms.

7. Educate

  • Educate your users about the risks of using social media - not everyone will have the same appreciation about the effects that a mistake can have on your online reputation.
  • Keep yourself and your IT team educatedabout the constantly evolving social landscape - users will be learning about new tools and platforms at a fast rate and it’s important to stay abreast of trends.
  • Educate your network about the events you are running, or attending, and use social platforms to arrange meetings before you even arrive.

8. Control, Manage, Secure

  • Ensure your employees who participate on social media for your company do so with accounts that can be clearly identified as corporate to help keep records of conversations and to aid customers identification.
  • It is possible to restrict access to certain areas of social networks and you may need to consider this*. For example, employees may need access to Facebook during office hours, but do you want them playing FarmVille?
  • Similarly, it is also possible to establish black and whitelists of words that can be used. Avoid the issue of an employee inadvertently saying that they “guarantee” an outcome by preventing it from being published.*

9. Review and Revise

  • Identify which policies are working, review your policies and then move on.

10. Measure

  • Response rates from social media outreach is important to measure across the different networks, and also against email.
  • Some of the things you measure will be simple, eg, number of connections you make, however remember that quality is especially important so numbers alone is not a suitable metric. You will need to identify metrics that accurately show the value of your social media strategy and key business goals.
*these two points were described as examples of Actiance’s features.

Is Hugo Chávez really running his country by Twitter?


Hugo Chavez world leader and twitter user

Courtesy of guapacho.net

The Guardian today wrote that Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, is using “Twitter as a tool to govern remotely while he undergoes cancer treatment in Cuba”.

This is the sort of headline that should have us social media agency types  delighted at how significant and revolutionary this is. Or should it?

As the host of  his own talk show, Chávez is no stranger to amplifying his voice via the media, but this story in itself feels a bit over-hyped. Is he really “running the country”?

It looks like he is merely using Twitter to talk about things that are happening in the real world, from his own meetings and decisions to his reactions to Venezuela’s football matches.

This is not insignificant - the reality is that a world leader is using social media to give his citizens (and the rest of the world) an insight into his life, and bringing us closer to him. Not only that, he can demonstrate that even while hospitalised, he remains involved and relevant.

The truth of the matter is that Twitter makes a great hook for news stories, and the hype that surrounds it is displacing the reality, which is extraordinary enough as it is.

It’s more than significant to think that world leaders are tweeting about their lives, and we shouldn’t de-value that with exaggerated claims.This is something amazing in itself -  a real change in behaviour and an opportunity to see a side of people we could not before. We don’t need to over-hype that.

Brand campaigns on Facebook grow by 104%


Digital advertising agency TBG Digital examined 200 billion impressions across 167 clients advertising on Facebook in 21 countries to produce its Q2 2011 Global Facebook Advertising Report.

Here are some of the key findings:

Facebook brand campaign general statistics

  • Brand campaigns on Facebook grew by 104% between Q1 2011 and Q2 2011.
  • There was a 435% improvement in campaign conversion rates when targeting existing fans.

Sector breakdown

  • The Retail got the most Click Through Rates (CTR) and grew to 36% of total impressions in Q2 2011. The growth of the retail sector was fuelled by positive feedback from consumers as expressedby the highest CTR among all sectors.
  • The second fastest growing sector was Finance, driven by credit card campaigns.
  • The numbers of impressions inthe Jobs & Education sector also grew rapidly - however this growth was seen mostly in the USA.

Price Trends

  • The Cost per Thousand Impressions rose by 45% across 4 markets between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011.
  • The Cost per Click rose by 74% across 4 markets between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011.
  • Using ‘Sponsored Stories’ ads in Facebook campaigns decreases Cost per Acquisition by 32%.

UK brand campaign market trends

  • The UK market is slower in adopting brand campaigns than the USA, possibly due to the high emphasis on Return on Investment/Offsite Campaigns (ROI) -  only 3% of impressions were aimed at fan acquisition in Q2 2011.