Today, a Google search for any type of information will deliver you ads and thousands of results. Many of the results are discussion threads on forums. There are millions of online forums that people around the world use daily. Studies indicate that employees spend 20% of their time, a day each week, looking for information and data.
Today’s standard forum doesn’t vary much from the forums that first emerged on the web more than a decade ago. As the web has become the central repository of human knowledge, the problem with standard forums is they are not well organized, and they have ongoing, threaded discussions that go on in perpetuity. Forums are essentially a collection of unstructured information, which makes it challenging to try to find the relevant bit of information you are searching for in the sea of online.
The alternative, more modern, productive, and efficient approach, that solves the problems of traditional forums is to apply structure and context to knowledge as it is captured in the form of dialogue. A powerful enterprise knowledge sharing platform that specializes in custom Q&A communities, ideas and articles will make your customers, users, and employees more collaborative and productive by bringing structure to the same, otherwise noisy, information that would be captured in forums.
Once you’ve realized the benefits of moving away from an obsolete forum, what are the keys to building a more powerful and robust information sharing community?
Three Things Are Necessary for a Powerful Community
1. Administrative Control
- Own, and organize, all of the content on your site, unlike online forums and other Q&A platforms.
- Customize the theme to reinforce your brand – internally and externally.
- Advance moderation features enable you to have a more professional, information-rich, relevant, and accessible community.
- Granular access control layers make it easy to manage virtually every action on your site – who can post, who can and cannot moderate content.
- Ability to run a variety of reports so you know what’s happening in your community with advanced analytics.
- Gamification options to reward desired behavior and drive engagement, contributions, and sharing.
- Integrate with tools like Google Analytics, Atlassian, Confluence, Parature or others.
2. Dependable Customer Support
- Know how long your provider has been providing online communities. What’s their heritage? Talk with current customers to get their impression of the platform, integration, and, perhaps most importantly, customer support.
- 24/7 web, phone and email support, and on-premise notifications of server/network errors are ideal so your community can get the support it needs and provide the optimal user experience (UX). The better the UX, the more users, the more frequent users, contributions, and interactions, you will have.
- Access to professional services to create custom themes and plugins.
3. Advanced Community Capabilities
- Break down silos and share knowledge with community members. While you may not be able to get rid of silos within your company, you can fill the information gap between them by using the hierarchy of spaces within your online community.
- Identify topic experts to automatically route relevant questions for quicker, more trustworthy, and knowledgeable answers.
- Powerful, intuitive search that indexes all community content in real-time.
- Receive notifications and respond to questions with email integration.
- Optimize organization with space categorization by tagging content with topics.
- Keep users engaged with gamification which recognizes participation and contribution with reputation points and badges.