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What is online community software and what can I use it for?

Online community software is a relatively new branch of software-as-a-service technology. Also known as community engagement software, online community software generally involves interactive mobile applications that are designed to increase member satisfaction, improve processes within your community, and help you monetize your events, services, products and sponsorships.

Having your own private community platform or app was previously an expensive and time-consuming activity, reserved for only the largest businesses and organizations that could afford this kind of investment. Nowadays, you can design, share, and start using your own community apps within a matter of days, and for a much lower price.

What is online community software and how is it different to social media?

 

Online community software, or community engagement software, refers to a set of products or applications that help you connect and engage your community members, staff, volunteers, and sponsors. 

Social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn are not classified as community engagement software, in that they are public and can be accessed by anyone. 

The thing that makes community engagement software different is that it is closed off to the general public, and can only be used by the members of your community. It also can be branded and tailored for your organisation, with your own logo and colours showing on all your app and platform pages. This gives a greater sense of ownership, connection, and privacy than social media sites provide. 

It also allows you to add and control extra features like a Marketplace, create Surveys or list your Services and Facilities all in the one place, allowing you to create a one-stop virtual hub where your community can engage, make purchases from you, book in for services, give feedback and more. 

Award-winning community engagement apps

What can you do with online community software?


Using online community software is a great way to communicate, connect, and coordinate your entire community. From planning events to showcasing your community services and sponsors, a community app is an all-in-one tool for the social management of your community. 

 

1. Create a better experience and deeper connections in your community

One of the best benefits of using community engagement apps and platforms is that you create more opportunities for your community to connect with you. We know that community involvement is becoming more difficult in modern-day society due to work and family obligations, so by utilising an online community platform you open up an entirely new way of engaging with your community. 

Online community platform users frequently report  a drop in complaints, an increase in member satisfaction, and much more opportunities to engage. If you are looking for new ways to connect and improve your members experience, then online community software is a great way to keep your members engaged.

2. Protect your members’ privacy

 Unlike social media platforms, online community software lets you completely control who can see, access, and use your community app. This becomes especially important when you’re dealing with minors, elderly, or vulnerable communities who need safety and privacy when they interact online. 

3. Customise it for your individual communities’ needs

Some online community software providers lets you design your entire app by yourself so it is perfectly suited to what your community actually needs. Unlike a CRM, or a pre-configured app, these providers give you the freedom to choose the features you need and add your own branding throughout your app. This creates a better experience for your community, and also gives you the control over how your community interacts with the software.

A great example of when this would be useful is when you consider the different options and ways people can interact online, which may not be appropriate or suitable for certain members of your community. Say you run a team of 13 year old soccer players, you don’t want them to have access to making purchases through your platform, but you do want their parents to be able to. With the more customisable options in community software, you can switch on and off these features and create totally different experiences for each member of your community.

 

4. Monitor engagement and get helpful insights and feedback

 

By having your community engaging in all your services from within the one platform, you get a much better level of insight into your members’ interests, activities, and desires. This lets you create a better experience, plan events with more certainty, and take steps to address what is and isn’t working. This level of insight is not something that can be easily obtained from paper forms, emails, Facebook groups, and spreadsheets.

Additional to this, online community software often comes with survey and feedback features, so you can directly ask your members for useful feedback from within your mobile app.

5. Manage your event calendar, facilities, maintenance requests and more

 
Rather than juggling multiple sources of information including phone calls, complaints, emails, event calendars, invitations and more, you can move all of your manual, time consuming community management processes into your community engagement platforms.


Some providers will even allow you to manage bookings, see attendees for events, and project manage your maintenance requests. 

6. Use it to generate more sales and revenue for your community

 
You can use community engagement software to create a better experience for your sponsors, and help generate more funding. By adding your sponsors and allowing them to advertise in your community platform, you are strengthening the relationship with them and increasing the likelihood of having a positive outcome at your next fundraising round. 

You can also list your own products and services, and allow your members to purchase merchandise, pay for services or events, and more through your platform. What this does is give you an easy way to communicate about what you offer, and help you generate more revenue from your members. Likewise, you may decide to allow members to advertise their products and services as well, and create your own community marketplace. 

If you are looking for an online community software provider or considering whether it can work for you, feel free to reach out to us for more information on what to look for and how you can use it in your community. 

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Award-winning community engagement apps

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