Community Management

Build vs buy? Online tools for managing a our new global membership community

Stephen Johnston Building innovation ecosystems

April 11th, 2015

Looking to decide whether to buy an off the shelf association / community management tool vs. building one ourselves. (This idea came up in my previous thread, but I started a new one for clarity). 

We're run a global platform for startups focused on the aging market (www.aging2.com) and have just created a new paid membership program for corporates (and eventually individuals) that provides them benefits (profiles & customer directory, online & offline networking/ events, webinars, forums, event and merchandise discounts, content/ white papers etc) in return for an annual membership fee - essentially an association model - more info at: www.aging2.com/alliance. 

Our preference is to use an off the shelf solution rather than reinvent the wheel (i doubt that our needs are particularly different from other communities) so would like to know if people have experience with our shortlist - or can recommend other software vendors. The two that we like the most are socious.com and bravenewtalent.com. Other names that have come up, though seem more expensive include: jive and lithium.    

So final thought - has anybody here had experience with socious or bravenewtalent or other competing association management solutions or community management tools, or have opinions about whether it's better to use an external community management tools vs. going through actually building one ourselves (we don't have an in house tech team at this stage).  

Judy Scott IT Manager at Romance Writers of America

April 13th, 2015

I manage a large international community and 135 chapter communities and 52 private communities (boards).  Back in 2011 I spent about 9 months reviewing AMS companies before we decided on Socious.  We've been with them now for four years and I've been very happy with my decision.

They can handle your custom work if it's needed and they also help me determine whether I can use the baseline product "as is" to accomplish my goals without a customization.  Oftentimes they'll think of a way to accomplish my goals without the customization.  But, when I have to authorize a customization, their price is more than reasonable and their turn-around time is fast.  I always feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

Primarily though, they offer fantastic customer support.  Socious helps me quickly and free!  They were even available on a weekend once!  I couldn't believe it!

Most AMS companies want you to submit a request for support and then wait several hours/days for them to let you know if they will help you as a part of your contract or if they will charge you for their help. 

We migrated away from a much larger AMS and now Socious holds all our membership and events data along with files, forums and online class structure. 

As you can tell - I'm a fan of Socious.  They've made my job so much easier!  If you're interested in "opening the hood", let me know.  I'll be happy to get on a meeting with you.


Chandan Miskin Experienced CRM/Cloud/Strategy/Sales Professional

April 12th, 2015

Check out Customer Communities and Partner Communities products from Salesforce.com...has lot of OOB features that you could use (setting up doesnt take much time unless you require custom functionality and complex branding requirements). You could internally manage a large community with just a few CRM licenses for your team. Pricing options are either by per user or by logins per month.

Stephen Johnston Building innovation ecosystems

April 13th, 2015

Thanks all, in particular Judy - really helpful and confirming to read that. Btw - am impressed with your scale and scope! 
Many thanks
Stephen 

Ward Christman Founder & Chief Advisor @HRTechAdvisor

April 12th, 2015

I'm doing same build/buy analysis for something new I'm working on for my industry. I'd rather partner with a platform and build on top of something but most simply want to sell you what they got and might consider suggested enhancements in the future.

I did learn that as many as 50% of the AMS solutions will customize for you, although most are moving quickly to pure SaaS model. One example is Timberlake.

Thanks for pointing out Socious, looks promising. If you have $20k or more to hire a market research firm who can also deliver a technical specification for whoever will build it for you, let me know and I can share some references.

Any idea what FounderDating is running on or if it was custom built?