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Selecting a Social Networking Platform

Selecting a Social Network by Mark Sprague

Enterprise Social Media Road-map…

So, you’re in the market for a social networking solution to engage your customer base – you’re experimenting with Facebook, but find the functionality to rigid for your needs. You’re looking at vendors who license and support the software you require. But, you should take a step back – this may be the wrong approach, especially if you have not worked through your social requirements. Developing requirements, establishing goals and creating an execution strategy should be done before the selection of your technology platform. The selection of the technology should always be done last. Why? One good example; the functionality for internal social platforms differs from external facing platforms. For example, collaboration modules are commonly found in in-facing platforms, and not in out-facing platforms.

Social Requirements, Goals and Strategy

To start you need to define your objectives for the software platform. You will need to answer these questions and more?

  1. What are the social requirements for the community?
  2. What is the demographic profile of your user base?
  3. Is the community in-facing (for employees), out-facing (for users) or both?
  4. Do you bring the platform in-house, or do you want it hosted by 3rd party?
  5. What do you want your users to do while engaged?
  6. What is your social communications strategy?  Will Blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook be part of the eco-system?
  7. What topical content needs to be developed for the community? Will the community require premium content, or will it be all user-generated?
  8. What are the goals of the community, what do you want to accomplish?
    • Is it to offer customer support or provide consumer education?
    • Enable user networking to generate new business?
    • Enable product information sharing to increase branding?
    • Enable collaboration on new product development?
    • Identifying expertise for the community?
    • Listen to what customers are saying about your products and company?

There are many more questions to be asked, and task to be performed prior to selecting a platform. The point here is the answers to these questions will dictate your technology choices.

Platform Selection (Technology)

Call now for free social media consultationOnce you have a clear demographic profile of your customers, and have completed the requirements for community, strategy, content and tools – you then can focus upon the selection process to identify the best software platform that most closely support your requirements. There are many technical decisions to be made. For example, is an open source platforms an option? Do you have the technical and editorial resources to deploy and manage the platform internally? What are your moderation requirements – will you do the moderating, or do you out-source it to a 3rd party? To this end, we have developed a series of 135 questions, in 26 topical categories, in 4 sections to ask your vendor when you are evaluating social networking platforms. These can be included in a RFP so you can execute a point-by-point comparison during your evaluation and selection process. 

The following four sections include  26 categories of questions that will be important to you.

Social Networking Platform Overview

  1. High-Level Platform Architecture 
  2. Infrastructure and Application Architecture
  3. Software Development Tools
  4. Data Architecture
  5. Network Requirements    
  6. Security Support
  7. Integration Support          

Social Networking Platform Administration

  1. General Administration Functionality
  2. Monitor & Moderate User Activity
  3. User Administration and Management                
  4. Site Metrics and Reporting          
  5. Customer Analytics         

Social Networking Platform Functionality

  1. High-Level Functionality
  2. Profiles and User Experience       
  3. Content Management Systems          
  4. User Generated Content
  5. Search, Taxonomy & Navigation             
  6. Polls & Ratings                
  7. Lead Generation              
  8. Collaboration – Social Graphing and Relation Controls              
  9. Collaboration – Conferencing 
  10. Workflow / Business Process                   
  11. Social Network Platforms            

Terms and Conditions

  1. Terms and Conditions
  2. Licensing and Pricing
  3. Roadmap        

Find Out More

This high-level overview will provide a framework for understanding the touch points for selecting a third-party social networking platform. If you want to find out more please contact me at: Mark@MSprague.com or call me now at: 781-862-3126

Lexington eBusiness Consulting

About Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Providing comprehensive Social Media services and strategy to the Boston Community

Mark Sprague’s 25 years of product development experience which includes expertise in Search Engines, Information Products, SEO platforms and Social Networking applications provide in-depth expertise to help you refine products and services, and improve your web sites performance by:

  • Developing a superior data-driven SEO strategy for your website.
  • Understanding your customers’ search behavior and normalizing it to your content strategy.
  • Understanding how search engine technology practically impacts SEO and content strategies.
  • Understanding how search technology impacts content in a social networking environment.
  • Developing a superior user experience based on sound information architecture, usability and coding standards.

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Mark Sprague,  CEO
580 Lowell Street
Lexington, MA 02420

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