Facilitating online engagement and social interactions with customers can deliver a rewarding experience for many businesses. This pertains especially to B2Bs, that are in search of more customer intimacy and enhanced online engagement. To achieve these goals, these businesses often need a platform for managing all interactions, which leads them on a hunt for online community and social business software. But how will you know which tool is best for your business and which will give you the best results?
In terms of how they are used, many of these tools are somewhat more closely related to customer service – feedback forums in particular. How it works is the feedback is collected through your website and is published right away in a public forum or community. Within this community, other members are able to vote on the idea, provide a suggestion or indicate that they have encountered something similar on the website or mobile app. This opens up the opportunity to use these tools for crowdsourcing purposes.
Additionally, community and social business software also offer features such as customer support ticketing and knowledge bases. This makes it easy for moderators and managers to respond to issues or questions within the forum. Customer support teams are also active in this process.
Online Community and social business software offer a number of benefits, including:
- Builds new relationships
- Builds customer loyalty
- Encourages customer interaction
- Increases content reach
In this overview we’ve gathered some of the best online community and social business software available on the market:
Jive-x Customer Communities is a cloud-hosted community and social business software that is used for customer and partner communities. In this highly secure enterprise platform, all content that is posted is automatically optimised for search engines. Users can also easily syndicate community content to other sites or social channels (e.g. Facebook). This tool is completely mobile optimised and offers mobile apps meaning digital teams using it can interact and share info at all times.
GetSatisfaction offers several options for forum moderation and management. Users can create custom communities that can be embedded just about everywhere (e.g. Facebook, mobile apps, website). This online community and social business software includes moderation tools (to keep content relevant), people management tools (monitor activity of particular visitors), content curation tools (merge similar conversations), assignment tools (direct certain questions to certain colleagues), internal notes (share comments with colleagues) and private conversations. This tool also integrates with various tools such as Salesforce, Facebook, Hootsuite, JIRA, MailChimp, and more.
inSided is a social platform that is used by all types of businesses to create and manage online communities. Fully customisable, these forums help businesses to facilitate customer interaction online. The tool offers communities for discussions, product Q&A, research & co-creation, customer ratings & reviews and more. Users can be segmented and communities can be integrated with Facebook, contact centres, CRMs and loyalty systems.
Lithium Online Communities is a cloud-based community platform that offers a number of different tools including forums, blogging platform, peer-to-peer Q&A, tribal knowledge base (crowdsource knowledge from customers and employees), ratings & reviews, gamification and more.
Disqus is a hosting service that allows users to collect comments on content from their visitors with a layout that is adapted to the look and feel of their website. With this online community and social business software, visitors must first login to be able to leave a comment. Visitors can also submit rich media as part of their comment. Once submitted, users can pre-moderate content as well as moderate content via email or allow it to be published immediately. The tool also offers shadow banning capabilities meaning users can ban visitors without them knowing. Disqus offers a free version for core comment, filtering and analytics tools.
Socious is an enterprise community and social business software that is geared towards medium and large businesses. The platform offers a number of different features including an online community platform, discussion forums, private social networking, web design & content management and more. It also offers a feature that enables employees to collaborate by sharing ideas and solving visitors’ problems.
Hoop.la is another enterprise SaaS platform for online communities. This online community tool supports content such as blogs, forums, chat rooms, events, private messaging and more. In blogs, for example, users can moderate comments or set up certain rules for publication. For forums, users can create an unlimited number of categories for discussion and per topic, users can download pertinent data.
Forumbee is a cloud-based solution created for community forums for businesses. Users can create a variety of different online community tools – public, private forums for Q&As, feedback, discussions, voting and more. Set up is easy and fast with this tool as no software needs to be installed. You can analyse activity in your community with activity trend charts and text analysis as well as moderate content as needed.
Muut is an online community and social business software that offers three products: forums, commenting and (private) messaging. All three products can be customised to your website using the Muut Designer tool and traffic, users and contact are unlimited. Moderators are available but a small package must be purchased to access this.
With SocialEngine, you create your own social network template or website (PHP) or you can build your own online community (Cloud). With SocialEngine PHP you can choose from various themes and plugins and host your own site. However, with SocialEngine Cloud, no hosting or coding skills are required. These communities can be integrated with your own website. Members must sign in with their existing social account to publish and comment. With this online community and social business software, users can customers the community’s look and feel.
11. Higher Logic
Higher Logic offers a number of different products including online communities, volunteer management, customer advocacy, small organisation web management and event communities. Users looking to build an online community with this community and social business software will receive access to features such as automation rules (rule-based logic to target communications), a private directory of your network, discussions (a place where members can collaborate, ask questions, and discuss topics). A very mobile friendly tool, Higher Logic can be integrated with a wide variety of (Customer Relationship Management) CRM and Association Management System (AMS) tools.
JomSocial is a social business software and Joomla extension that is similar to Facebook in terms of functionalities. This tool offers an activity stream where members can share anything from statuses to photos and videos to events as well comment on posts. All posts can be edited or deleted by the admin using the moderation feature. Users can also set up alerts on comments, likes or messages.
Viafoura is an Audience Development Platform that works with digital publishers and media brands. It integrates user registration, engagement, moderation and analytics modules into one platform. Users can sign in using social login to start interacting in your community. In terms of engagement, the tool creates user profiles, offers an on-site notification feed, sends browser-based push notifications and offers moderation tools. This online community and social business software also offers real-time analytics for measuring the impact of engagement.
Oxwall is an open source community website platform. Similar to JomSocial in that it has a Facebook-like newsfeed, Oxwall comes with a variety of different visual themes and includes features such as forums, photos, links and videos. Users receive activity notifications and can create user roles and permissions.
With BoonEx’s Dolphin.Pro software platform, users can set up their own social site with their own design and content. This platform can be used in a self-hosted environment or users can use BoonEx’s hosted solution which assists with updates and installation steps.It also offers plenty of modules for users including, but not limited to articles, avatars, polls, chat, Facebook connect, forums, feedback, etc.
NING is a large social website platform that allows users to make an online community based around their interest(s). It is integrated with other online services such Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The activity feed functions similarly to a Facebook or Twitter feed, however the user also has the freedom to choose how many items are displayed and where in their network they want to display it. Users can also create separate blogs, e.g. one official blog for the community and one that is open for members to write in.
CMNTY is online community tool that enables users to build their own community – whether that’s a customer community platform, insights community platform or private social network. The customer community platform, in particular, is fully equipped with a survey tool, a blog, polls and 40 different interactive widgets. The software can be fully customised for your brand as well as integrated with your website, webshop or web app.
Using IdeaScale, users can create a community and enable customers to leave feedback, have a discussion and vote for ideas/suggestions. IdeaScale can also be integrated with Facebook so you can show it to the community on your Facebook Company Page. It includes a filter for profanity and there are possibilities to customise the design.
Helprace combines a number of different tools together for customer service purposes including tickets, email management, a customer community, feedback and a knowledge base. The community tool shows an activity stream with most recent activity, however you can also create internal communities for your team only.
UserReport consists of two tools: a survey and a feedback forum. The feedback forum helps users collect ideas and filter by popular, most recent, and closed ideas. Your visitors can post, vote on and discuss these ideas in the community.
UserEcho offers a support solution that includes the following: feedback, knowledge base, ideas forum, helpdesk and live chat. The forum enables your customers to ask questions and share ideas. It also offers a voting system that lets you see what your customers like and dislike.
UseResponse provides a feedback forum, knowledge base, help desk and live chat all-in- one. This tool also offers a version you can host yourself with open sourced code. Similar to UserEcho, UseResponse users can set up a voting system for customers within the forum.
UserVoice offers almost the same solution as GetSatisfaction. This tool is often used by marketers for idea generation and voting on new features for their websites or apps. What’s great about this tool is users can provide input without having to register. With the ‘search as you type’ application, visitors can see right away if another visitor has experienced the same problem. UserVoice also offers several options for forum moderation and management.
Get the conversation started with the tool of your choice
As you can see these tools all offer a variety of solution packages that can help you jumpstart your online community and create a more social and engaged environment for your customers. We hope this overview has given you some insight into which community tools and social business software might be right for your business and its goals.
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