Choosing a community platform

At wildfire (where I work) we create community sites for our clients as part of our word of mouth marketing campaigns.  Whilst succesful at what they do I am now finding more clients taking a longer term, more strategic approach to the use of community, WOM and social media to drive brand engagement and loyalty.  This raises an interesting question for me as I look for platforms to support our campaign objectives and drive long term value from them for our clients.  Moving from a tactical to a longer term strategic approach means our technology must be proven, scalable and flexible.

In considering our options I’ve been looking at white label social network tools such as KickApps, Ning and Pluck.  These are very attractive options as they remove the overhead of management and maintenance of the technology allowing us to focus on the performance of our communities.  They also offer scalability on demand.  The downsides really come in flexibililty (although KickApps API offers string potential here) and ownership and management of data (again KickApps seems strong here).

I will carry on researching the options and post my findings and opinions.  Some articles that I’ve read have been particularly useful so far:

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/01/09/forrester-wave-community-platforms-2009/

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/24/9-ways-to-build-your-own-social-network/

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/14/34-more-ways-to-build-your-own-social-network/

Jeremiah’s list is also very handy as a reference:
http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/12/list-of-white-label-social-networking-platforms/

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