As Internet moves toward a more social landscape, online communities have become a tool for many businesses to drive traffic, increase sales, boost brand awareness, and establish authority status.
Your Own Platform vs. an Established Platform
You generally have 2 options for creating an online community.
- Use a 3rd party platform like a social media site, such as Facebook.
- Host your own using server based software on your site.
The benefit of the 3rd-party platform is that it’s easy to create and maintain. Examples include Facebook Group, LinkedIn Group or Google+ Hangout. You can begin by simply setting up your presence and inviting people.
The downside is that the platform doesn’t belong to you. They have their own agenda, which is to prove their value and worth to their investors. They can change their rules and regulations in an instant, and can shut you down when they see fit.
If you create an online community on your own site, you have total control over it. You are no longer at the whims of the service providers.