Your comprehensive guide to migrating your community platform

Everything you need to know about community migration including why, how, and pitfalls to avoid.
Your comprehensive guide to migrating your community platform

At some point in your online community’s growth, it may become clear that you have to move technology platforms. You might have started out on a free option, for example, but as it scales you find you need better functionality and customization. Or you might already be using a community platform but find that it doesn’t meet your needs, is unreliable, or doesn’t provide the support you need to grow and thrive.

Community migration might seem scary at first, but once you understand the process it becomes a lot more doable, especially if the cost of remaining on your existing platform is more than the investment required to migrate. The rest of this piece is dedicated to helping you learn more about the process of migrating.

Why would you consider moving?

Firstly, take time to understand the reasons behind your platform change and the problems you are trying to solve. Align your plans with your wider business goals, to ensure that your platform change is happening because it is genuinely needed. 

Here are some reasons that community managers have given us for migrating their platform:

  • Lack of important features

Your community’s features are everything. Without the right ones, you won’t be able to do everything that you planned to and your community’s growth will ultimately be hindered. Choosing a platform with the right features for your members and organization will deliver a better member and admin experience.

  • Not enough support

The best community platforms don’t just give you the technology but also a team to lean on for advice and experiences. Customer Success can make a real difference to your community’s long-term growth by helping you with your strategy, troubleshooting, and connecting you with other community managers. Likewise, the platform’s customer community can provide a space for knowledge-sharing, tips and tricks, and advice. 

  • Outdated platform and lack of innovation

Even if a platform met your needs at the start, if it doesn’t get updated regularly then it will quickly stop meeting your requirements. This will begin limiting your community’s functions and even threaten its future as other community platforms (and communities) overtake yours. 

  • Control over branding and data 

If your community started on a free service like Facebook, you are limited in what customizations you can do to make it ‘feel’ like your brand. This has long-term ramifications for your brand identity and recognizability among audiences. Moreover, you don’t own your community’s data at all, which means you cannot benefit from it. With the right community platform, you get far more customization options plus the ability to access and analyze community data for marketing and sales strategies, sponsorship, content creation, and more. 

  • Scalability

At the start, a free or basic community platform might suit your needs but as your membership grows, scalability will become a real hindrance. Especially if you begin creating multiple communities tailored to different audiences and your platform isn’t able to support this. Another consideration is cost and effort — as your community becomes bigger and more complex, you’ll want a platform that’s flexible enough to grow with you and that allows you to do things at scale (like analysis or content sharing) without much additional workload.

As experts in online communities, we’ve compiled a six-step guide to help you get started with your migration. Download the six steps here

What to look for in a new vendor

Once you’ve decided that a community migration is the right move for your brand, you need to shortlist your community platforms

To pick the right platform, consider what your members need. For instance, do they spend a lot of time on mobile? In which case, you need a stellar mobile experience. Does your community support wider initiatives like events? If so, it’s worth looking at ticketing or calendar functionality, plus the ability to upload content and events to an online hub. List out all of the ways your members interact with your community and build your desired features list from this. 

Find a true partner

It’s also vital to find a vendor who is a true partner and driven to grow your online community as much as you are. Why? Because a vendor who walks with you, who is invested in your community’s success, and who will provide ongoing support to help you meet your goals, will get you to your end goal a lot faster and easier than one who is hands-off. In an ideal world, you get an extension of your team, with bought-in, motivated community experts to back you. 

Involve your members

Better still, involve your members in the process of picking a new community. Established communities will have a core group of regular members, usually the first people who signed up to your platform. Have them beta test your shortlisted community platforms and feedback their ideas. Share the reasons for the move and seek out their opinions. 

Building an amazing new platform won’t help if your members aren’t ready to move. If they are bought in from the start, it will be a lot easier to migrate them to another platform. 

Time to move on

A community migration is a big commitment that will pay off for your community in the long run. You don’t have to do it alone, the right vendor will have a customer success team that can help you with your migration and launching a new platform to your members. 

As experts in online communities, we’ve compiled a six-step guide to help you get started with your migration. Download the six steps here

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