We don’t think there’s any right answer to whether you piggy back an existing platform or community or go it alone and build either of these from scratch. It really is based on your circumstances and what you’re trying to achieve, in fact a within your entire social media strategy you should probably be pulling from all the solutions at some point. With this in mind we thought we outline some of the pro’s and con’s, which should steer you in the right direction of the best solution for your objectives.Piggy Back

Piggy backing a community

By this we mean engaging in other existing communities that are established around a topic that would have relevance to your subject matter.Pros

  • Community is already established and engaged in your topic.
  • It will be quicker to build interest specifically in your brand (providing your giving value).
  • Finding key influcers within these communities can help you drive future engagement strategies.
  • More open communities should have a more honest opinion, not being fed by brand advocates, therefore great for feedback.
  • Great platform to research competitors particularly if you can infiltrate their community base (sounding a bit spy like, it is).

Cons

  • There is less control over an existing community.
  • People are free to disuss your brand without bias, so you may hit upon negative comments, which the most you can do is reply to.
  • You may be ‘booted’ from the community of they feel your content is spammy or irrelevant.

Piggy backing a platform

Platforms such as Yammer, Ning, Crowdworks, and more recently Facebook groups provide a great ready made solution to creating your own community platforms (there are far too many to mention here).Pros

  • Cheap (normally subscription fee) or free solution
  • No development costs which means you can launch immediately

Cons

  • Restricted to platform functionality, so you’ll need to do research into what will work best for you.
  • Platform can change features that you may be heavily reliant on.
  • Privacy policy and terms may not ‘fit’ your Corporate requirements.
  • Platform may disappear due to lack of funding.

Piggy backing a self hosted platform

There’s also open source solutions such as buddy press or elgg which you can host yourselfPros

  • Much more under your control
  • Time to launch reduced
  • Can develop the platform in your own time frames i.e. adding your own features
  • Large developer community support (usually) – normally easy to find a employ specialist with the dev com

Cons

  • Bloated code can make the system run slower
  • You will have to pay for developments and keep up with core system updates to ensure security, which can incur costs

Creating your community

Creating your own community, by this we mean either using an existing platform i.e. facebook pages or using your own and building your community from stratch so you have admistrative rights over your community.Pros

  • More control, the right to remove corporate infiltrators and spammy content
  • Emmerse your community in your brand culture
  • Develop high level one to one comms
  • Gather more information with regards to your users (SocialCRM)

Cons

  • You cannot dip in and out of of the community
  • Ongoing engagement is a must (so is the resource)
  • You leave yourself open to all kinds of comments (though in a transparent world of marketing this must been seen as a positive)

I’m sure we’ve just skimmed the surface of the Pro’s and Con’s of all the above subjects, can you add to this list?

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