Private Community Platform

The Advantages of a Private Community Platform



The pandemic has accelerated the need for private online communities.  This applies to everyone from startups to larger enterprise organizations.

If you haven’t considered a private community platform this article may help you second guess, or at least consider, the advantages of using one.

First, let’s define the difference between a public and private community platform.

Public platform

This is an open system that allows “free” user accounts and aims to monetize user generated content open to the public.

Examples:

  • Facebook / FB Groups
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Craigslist
  • etc.
Private platform

This is a private system that requires user login to access and post content.

Examples:

  • Membership site
  • Group portal / intranet
  • Learning management system (LMS)
  • Password protected forums
  • etc.

Next, let’s establish why private community platforms are necessary.

1) Ownership of Data

Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin own the lion-share of user data on the web.  It’s likely that they own way more data on your customers and users than you do!  In fact, it’s almost inevitable.

As it relates to this, it’s important to remember – if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.  This correlates with how “free” public platforms always have an agenda to monetize the user activity on their platforms.  This usually results from how they sell ads and/or targeting against your users’ data.

A private community platform helps you shift the ownership of data back in your favor.  If you work hard to acquire users and customers you should own their data as part of the reward, right?  You’ll also want access to this data to better serve your customers and ultimately create value for them.

Private Community Advantages
  • Own all your user/customer data
  • Get analytics and insight into their behavioral data
  • Make better [informed] decisions from that data

2) Distraction Free User Experience

Most public community platforms create a plethora of distractions as part of their “social”  user experience.  This is most commonly found in the form of advertising and hyper annoying demographic targeting.  In other words, they know exactly what kind of ad to show your users at exactly the right time.

This creates massive distractions for companies who use these tools to manage and nurture their communities.  A private community, on the other hand, gives you full control over the user experience.  You can design the type of experience that your users and customers would expect.  No more fluff, just relevant content and updates.

Private Community Advantages
  • Focused user experience
  • Curated content and design
  • No ads – or – ads you control

3) Moderation Tools

Another common pitfall of public community platforms is the lack of moderation tools.  You may be able to create a company page or group, but moderating the content posted puts at the mercy of what the platform provides.  For example, Facebook group moderation tools are dictated by Facebook and always will be.  With minimal control your company or organization is at risk of one inappropriate post or comment.

Private platforms tend to offer a lot more control and moderation capabilities.  They also give you the ability to remove content and put your own moderation processes in place with various access levels.  This is a key advantage for larger communities that see active user engagement.

Private Community Advantages
  • Moderate discussions and access
  • Control settings and configuration
  • Defer risk of “open” posting

When does a private community platform make sense?

Today, it makes sense for a lot of companies and organizations!  As we mentioned, the pandemic has increased the need and value of creating space for private online communities.  More people are seeking virtual solutions for content, engagement, online training and overall user interaction.

That said, a private community platform is a great asset for the following organizations:

  • Coaches and Academies
  • Online educators / universities
  • Social clubs and groups
  • Mastermind Groups
  • Mission driven organizations
  • etc.

A private community also makes sense if you have the following goals / objectives:

  1. Engage your audience
  2. Create space for private discussions
  3. Offer niche member-only content
  4. Offer online courses and curriculum
  5. Add value to an existing offline event-based business

For example, we work with a lot of coaches and thought leaders who leverage an online community platform as part of their growth strategy.  We build membership platforms that meet the goals above and ultimately help these businesses evolve into thriving online communities.

Need some guidance / help?

Get in touch!  We offer a customized service to help you design, build and launch your private community.  This will give you the confidence, clarity and control to grow and manage your online community!

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Ali Jafarian

Ali is the founder of MemberDev. He's a serial entrepreneur and software engineer with over 15 years of experience building technology. Ali's spent the last decade focusing on membership websites and the subscription business model. He enjoys helping small businesses with early stage development and growth.

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