I recently read an article about upgrading from a mailing list server (or listserv) to an online community platform. In the article, they explain that a listserv used to be the “new kid on the block”, but today, there are much more powerful online tools to engage a community. Not that online community platforms can entirely replace emails. But they definitely are complementary.
Although I found this article interesting, I believe it should have been published 2 years ago. No, online community platforms are not the new kids on the block anymore. They’ve been here for a while, and they’re getting old. If we look at the usual product life cycle graph, I’d say that online platforms have already reached the maturity stage.
Today, people’s attention span is much shorter than it used to be. The new (and I’m tempted to say “only”) way to engage people is through their mobile phone. I think it’s time for community managers to jump on the mobile platform bandwagon before it is too late.
Now don’t get me wrong. Just like online community platforms do not replace emails, mobile tools won’t replace your online platform. They are complementary. But mobile community apps provide what listservs and online platforms lack in rapidity, reachability and ubiquity.
A mobile community app allows members to reach each other instantly, and engage in real-time, anywhere. The discussions taking place in the app are live, and they are relevant right now. Furthermore, with a mobile community app, there’s always something to read when members have some free time while stuck in traffic, waiting for their next meeting or simply when they’re bored.
In conclusion, I think every single tool is important to engage with a community. They are complementary and should be used wisely depending on the goals a community manager wants to achieve.