The Complete Guide to Community Platforms

Welcome to our guide on community platforms. In this guide, we run through the different types of communities, their key features, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

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What is a private online community platform?

A private online community platform is a place for an organization’s customers, members, employees, or fans to find a hub of information, connection, and self-service. Online communities help build customer loyalty while also saving money for the organization by empowering their users to find the information they need without needing direct assistance from the company.

An online community gives a brand full control of the look and feel and functionality and a direct line to their customers with forums, articles, messaging, self-service and many other features such as ideation and gamification that just aren’t available on something like Facebook. These features allow for the brand to be in control of the channel. Not to mention, you’re not left wondering if the platform itself is going to go offline, change layout, or maybe cease to exist altogether, as we’ve seen happen with social media channels in the past.

With the extended functionality of Verint Community, including blogs, calendars, media galleries, wikis and messaging abilities, organizations aren’t only providing a better customer experience— an online community can also build better business outcomes.

Why have online community platforms become popular?

Not too long ago, brands realized the problem with their public social channel strategy – they didn’t own the messaging, the data, the user experience, or the overall functionality available to the consumer. They had little control over where their content appeared and their loyal customers’ privacy.

So, organizations created their own branded communities to interact with consumers in a more trusted, manageable environment where they own the messaging, the data, the user experience, the functionality – and they get full control of the look and feel of the site itself.

​These early communities served mostly as customer support forums. Customers would log in, meet other customers and service support personnel, and receive the information about the product or service. At the time, these were valuable, especially in industries where users and customers were looking for connections with like-minded folks.

Communities gained popularity in the late 2010s, as brands employed features that quickly connected customers with information through self-service features while also connecting the community to other service options – even public communities where they could share content that would draw people into the private community and drive membership.

Building a global Community to drive customer engagement

With such an expansive portfolio of solutions, Sage needed a single community platform to provide a consistent customer experience. Learn how Verint Community powers Sage City – the home of 20,000 daily customer visitors.

Read the success story

“The ease of building Sage City using Verint Community was remarkable, which, in turn, helped us elevate our image and brand. More important, our customers love it.” - Derek Vink – Manager, Online Communities – Sage

What’s the difference between public and private communities?

The difference between a private online community platform and a public community comes down to control and ownership.

A public community is anything that’s hosted, maintained, and regulated by a third-party. The typical online communities are places like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as more niche platforms that might cater to a particular audience or industry.

There’s obvious benefit to maintaining public social media pages for your brand – especially when it comes to engaging in those platforms’ messaging channels. When it comes to building a place for customers to engage with a brand, however, companies are moving increasingly toward private online communities, such as Verint Community, to provide a more customized customer experience that’s in line with their brand and meets customer expectations.

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With a public community, you can control which content your brand chooses to share on the platform, but you can’t control the wider newsfeed. There is nothing to stop your brand’s content appearing alongside problematic content, extremism, or negative narratives, leading to a negative association or an off-putting read. It could even lump your content in with misinformation that could confuse customers and damage your brand.

Also, when your business is at the mercy of a third-party platform, you must unfortunately expect that there will be changes in data, privacy, and security that you may not be comfortable with. This can damage your customer relationships and wider business results, as you have handed data to a platform that isn’t able to have your company’s — or your customers’ – best interests at heart.

Businesses that invest in a private online community have access to a level of customer detail and insight that isn’t available on a public platform. This data is vital to understanding customer needs, expectations, and uncovering areas of potential growth for your company.

What makes for the best community platforms?

When we look at the community marketplace, we see plenty of basic solutions that may look nice at first but lack the ability to expand in functionality and scale. Many of these DIY platforms might be things like a hobbyist community and rely heavily on a static set of functionalities that likely includes forums and articles but aren’t very customizable for specific needs.

Then there’s the higher-level, pre-packaged solutions. These often provide a good starting point and have more capability and features but rely too heavily on a one-size-fits-all approach. When it comes to an online platform, this is a significant issue, because a community needs to be flexible to match the brand, personality, and specific customer needs that are unique to each organization. If you’re not able to customize, extend, and optimize your community – you’re not using a future-proof solution.

Verint Community is an enterprise-level online community platform in that it gives you everything you need to get started but is also extendible in that it provides limitless integrations.

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What industries benefit from an online community platform? And how do companies use an online community?

At Verint, we’ve seen online communities used across industries and use cases, from providing a common place for loyal brand users to convene, to creating a virtual watercooler for

Instant Customer Support

One of the most useful and popular elements of an online community is delivering immediate, instant, and around-the-clock customer support – whether that’s through forums, FAQs, articles, or other avenues of information. We’ve seen firsthand how organizations have used their community to deliver a better customer experience, and higher CSAT scores, increase call deflection and save on contact center costs all while placing the information their customers need in one centralized place.

Here’s a case study detailing the success of Sage City

Brand Loyalty and Customer Interactions

One of the most rewarding results of launching an online community is that it allows for the brand to see the people who use their products or services turn from customers to devoted fans. By bringing together likeminded customers, a brand can use their community to build the sort of loyalty that drives real results – especially when prospective customers see the energy and excitement happening on the community forums.

Here’s a case study that shows how Olympus has delivered real results with Verint Community.

Enhancing Team Productivity

An online community isn’t solely a customer engagement tool. At Verint, we’re seeing more and more organizations using their community to build relationships, give workers the tools they need to do their job, and create a virtual watercooler and collaborative space at a time when more people are working remote.

Learn how the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CPID) enhanced the experience for its 145,000 members with Verint Community here.

Higher Education

Now more than ever, that sense of community extends far beyond the physical confines of the campus and can flourish in the right online environments. To protect students’ privacy, maintain academic standards, and protect the institution’s values, many schools have embraced private online communities that provide the tools and resources students, staff, and parents expect from a modern higher learning center.

Learn more about how higher education can utilize private communities.

How does an online community work with my existing CX strategy and social media platforms?

The open-API structure of Verint Community means that your organization can add features that meet their needs and aren’t stuck with a set of pre-determined use cases. This includes integrating third party channels, like social media and private messaging, video platforms, workforce management tools, and your company’s customized applications.

Here’s a few ways that customers have taken a future proof strategy by making the most of Verint Community’s extendibility through open API integrations:

Huddles: When users are engaging with a private online community, they should be able to have their conversations within the platform, rather than having to connect on another app. By using a Huddles plug-in, Verint Community allows for one-on-one calling between users, group calls and meetings, and special event capabilities that are perfect for influencers. This keeps the discussion within the community, which is especially valuable for organizations using their community for employees as they can host training, personalized support, and meeting needs all within Verint Community.

Mobile: Verint’s partner 4 Roads recently developed an easy-to-use mobile app that allows your users to take your community with them on the go. This app is customizable to meet your branding specifications, and includes push notifications, a dynamic activity feed, and a sleek user interface.

Slack: Slack, of course, has become a must-have for many organizations who use it for project management, team communication, or maybe just as a chat tool. By integrating Slack into your Verint Community, your content shares are synchronized between the two applications. It also features slash commands, allowing users to interact with Slack by sending messages through a bot. This integration is just one of the ways in which Verint Community can work with your existing tools, so you don’t have to abandon successful tools, but rather bring them into the fold of your community.

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