Enterprise Grade Social Network Platforms – Have You Got it Right!

Paul Fennemore

Managing Partner http://www.viapoint.co.uk

Open Social Network Platforms Have Risk

Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and the other main social media platforms are not suitable for all situations

Many larger firms want to create communities where some users, not all, wish their data to be anonymous and or not made public.  They have concerns such as data protection rights and who own the data gleaned from social media channels. They also want to have some say in the features and functions of the social portal with a roadmap of new developments. Particularly in the respect of security, system back-up and resilience. Major public companies are worried about all these risks associated with establishing online branded communities.

These justifiable concerns are particularly applicable to the healthcare and financial services markets for reasons that are self apparent. Or any organisation wanting to offer support groups with the aim of enhancing their brand recognition and reputation.

There are social network platforms, such as NING, that offer the ability to create a social site. But are still in the ‘cloud’ and where you are still dependent on them providing site features you need, you have no visibility of their feature roadmap and your destiny is in their hands.. And how future proofed are these services? They can get sold off or closed down without any warning. Just check out the press for current rumours of sell offs etc.

Build or Buy Your Social Network Platform?

Large public companies who are using social media for commercial purposes are increasingly constructing their own social platforms to overcome their concerns. Sounds difficult. Well yes and no. However, is does mean that digital marketers need to expand the skill sets to knowing how to go about designing, building and operating what is an IT solution. And IT directors need to expand their skills set by understanding social commerce.

There are platforms that provide ‘enterprise class’ frameworks on which you can create your social network that are designed to tackle the issues already mentioned. Moreover, you can hold and manage your own data at a location to meets critical corporate security and systems resilience criteria. You can also have a direct relationship with the platform developers to ensure that you have input to and given visibility of their features and functions roadmap.

Imagine  is one example.  With Imagine they are you can create and enterprise grade portal in a matter of days and build ever increasing levels of sophistication.  Check out a site Imagine is currently working on http://www.imaginesail.com/. Lithium http://www.lithium.com/ is another such platform. Many firms are using Microsoft’s Sharepoint.

Sharepoint is an enterprise social collaboration system designed to increase the performance of knowledge workers. But it has also been developed for organisations to extend its collaboration outside its firewalls to consumers and supply chains.  The Ferrari social portal is a great example.

Designing, Building and Operating Your Social Network

If you are a marketing director of an organisation with many stakeholders with a sizeable vested interest in your firm you may have no choice other than to build or have some way of having a very tight rein on your social portal.

Here is a check list of the eight main work-streams:

  1. Objectives-  business, marketing,  KPI’s
  2. Strategy – how and budget
  3. Marketing – branding, look/feel, audience research, target personas, integration into marketing programs.
  4. Social Media – features, functions, community building, services, content generation, moderation, partnering, SEM etc
  5. Technology- enterprise grade platform and feature roadmap, future proofed, secure, resilient
  6. Monitoring, measuring, analytics
  7. Governance, security, legal, ethics
  8. Resources (operations, specialist skills)

Whilst this list is just a summary, you can be fairly confident that if your organisation attends to all these facets you will build a great interactive, real-time and fully social community building platform.

To find out more as to how to implement an enterprise grade social commerce platform and get a copy of Viapoint’s social commerce adoption framework call Viapoint on

0845 319 3707 or email: paul.fennemore@viapoint.co.uk