If there’s one thing community managers fear the most, it’d have to be having their communities vanish. This is one of many risks that community managers face when they host their communities on platforms they don’t own, such as Facebook.
Since the unravelling of #DeleteFacebook, community managers who host their communities on the platform have been exponentially searching the internet for alternatives to decrease risks of vanishing, data leaking, and uncertainty of the future of the platform.
And although deleting Facebook might not be a viable option in the near or far future, this uprising discussion heeds as a warning of possible changes in the social media sphere, making the creation of branded communities an instant priority. Thankfully, migrating communities to respective branded websites is one of the most reliable options- one that Vanilla provides.
If you’re a risk taker and the uncertainty of Facebook’s future doesn’t unsettle you enough to seek out alternatives for your Facebook community, below are 4 other reasons to consider switching to a branded community hosted on your owned domain.
#1. Build and Own a Resilient Community
Building a community on Facebook can be as volatile as renting property without a formal agreement. And although the odds of Facebook becoming irrelevant are low, but possible- think MySpace or even Facebook Answers- a branded community can provide peace of mind.
Community Managers shouldn’t be at the mercy of any platform, on the contrary, they should have full ownership of their community and its development. And although it can seem easy to build a community on Facebook, it can actually be easier to build a branded community and the benefits are lasting.
Here are some examples of resilient communities our clients have built.
#2. Say GoodBye to Feature and Branding Limitations
Flexibility and scalability are vital when it comes to sustaining online communities, especially as communities grow and evolve.
When it comes to Facebook Groups, there are many limitations, especially if you’d like to include unique features to fully support your community’s needs. On the other hand, branded community forums can be scalable and customizable to include features such as leaderboards, badges, APIs, emotional reactions, and many other expansion and integration features- all according to your community’s needs.
A good example of this is Acer. Using Vanilla, Acer has built a unique forum with numerous threads, help guides, and community perks to serve their community’s needs.
Acer isn’t limited by a platform’s policies, they can add on features as they please. And perhaps even more importantly, the forum’s look matches the company’s branding, something that isn’t possible on Facebook.
#3. Improve SEO Ranking
By creating public and indexable branded forums, you’re able improve your search engine ranking effortlessly. If community posts include thorough discussions and great information, your organic reach can increase enormously.
A good example of this is the Hootsuite Forum. Hootsuite’s community is rich in valuable discussions that quickly appear when Googling any type of social media management question. Their community and its user-generated content provides quality content for that have been indexed by various search engines. You could be missing out on this if you’re main community is based on Facebook.
#4. Innovation and User-Generated Content
In addition to the above, your brand can receive some great insights and innovations by listening to your branded community. This can help create a wealth of knowledge, feedback, and user-generated content that can be utilized for content strategies and product improvements. You can convert questions/critiques by community members into valuable additions for their product designs.
“Marketing uses the feedback collected through our field testing community and looks through the comments for stories to use. I feel like everyone from advanced product development to sales benefit from the feedback gathered. It gives everyone the ability to stand behind what they are making and selling." -Walker Ferguson, Lead Field Tester, Patagonia
Therefore, when you’re looking for alternative community solutions to Facebook groups, consider hosting your own branded community if you’d like to develop a sustainable online community. This will help you establish an engaged, loyal, and helpful community that will evolve with your brand without having to worry about the vulnerability of platforms you don’t own.