In this report, independent research firm Forrester Research, Inc. shares research results about the factors interactive marketers should consider when evaluating community platforms.
<ul><li> 1. Making Leaders Successful Every DayNovember 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: CommunityPlatforms, Q4 2010by Melissa Parrishfor Interactive Marketing Professionals</li></ul><p> 2. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best availableresources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester, Technographics, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar,and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. Topurchase reprints of this document, please email email@example.com. For additional information, go to www.forrester.com.For Interactive Marketing ProfessionalsExecutive SummaryIn Forresters 60-criteria evaluation of community platform vendors, we found that LithiumTechnologies and Jive Software led the pack because of their mature tool sets and depth of servicesoffered. KickApps, Telligent Systems, and Mzinga each offer capable technology solutions, best-suitedfor specific marketers who need extremely quick and light deployments, have technical resources attheir disposal, or who are easing their way into social business tools. All five of these vendors are matureofferings, with a significant lead on the rest of the vendors in this rather crowded space.table of ContentsMarketers Require Specialized CommunityPlatformsTechnology Vendors Differentiated ByNontechnical OfferingsCommunity Platform Evaluation OverviewCriteria Focuses On Services, Leadership, AndViabilityVendors Have Experience LaunchingMarketing Communities For Large CompaniesCompetition Among Vendors Gives MarketersSeveral Strong ChoicesVendor ProfilesLeaders: Fully Featured Platforms WithStrategic ExpertiseStrong Performers: Solid Choices, Each WithRoom To GrowSupplemental MaterialNOTES & RESOURCESForrester conducted product evaluations inAugust 2010 and interviewed five vendor anduser companies: Jive Software, KickApps, LithiumTechnologies, Mzinga, and Telligent Systems.Related Research DocumentsMidyear Planning: Predictions For 2011July 29, 2010Community Management ChecklistJune 29, 2010November 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms,Q4 2010Lithium And Jive Lead The Way, With KickApps Close Behindby Melissa Parrishwith Emily Riley, Kate van Geldern, Jennifer Wise, and Angie Polanco256811 3. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedNovember 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals2Marketers Require Specialized Community PlatformsForresters research shows that 24% of interactive marketing executives of companies with $500 millionor more in revenue are currently implementing or piloting a program using a community platform.1An additional 31% plan to pilot a consumer-facing community program in the next 12 months.2Withthis kind of momentum building, its no surprise that marketers are increasingly requiring communityplatforms that address their specific needs and the vendor market is responding.This Wave is focused on the factors that matter most to Interactive Marketers as they evaluatevendors to support their consumer-facing community initiatives. While were in the midst of aturning point in which more and more departments within an enterprise are using social media toengage their consumers and colleagues and meet their own business objectives, it is our goalto address the specific needs of interactive marketers including:Ease of deployment. Marketers are looking for community platforms that allow them to configure,deploy, and manage communities in the most efficient and effective way possible, with minimalongoing reliance on internal technical support. The ability to iterate on and replicate theircommunity successes on their own timelines is important as marketers community initiativesmature. To achieve efficient deployment, marketers will sometimes even trade robustness andcomplexity for fewer features and simplicity of management interfaces and processes.Matching community results to business goals. Marketers understand that a key step inpreparing to launch any social program, including branded communities, is identifyingthe specific groundswell objectives they most want to achieve. Thus, marketers are lookingfor vendors that offer not only analytics tools but also strategic services to help marketersunderstand which of the platforms functionalities will best help them achieve their goals andanalysis services to help discover the progress theyve made toward them.Keeping the community healthy. Thirty-seven percent of interactive marketing executivesare measuring customer engagement in some way, but getting at this measurement isnt alwaysas simple as metrics especially in communities.3Marketers are increasingly relying on thecommunity management expertise and services of their platform vendors to help them keeptheir customers engaged, the communities vibrant, and misbehavior to a minimum.Technology Vendors Differentiated By Nontechnical OfferingsThe last time we evaluated community vendors, there were more than 90 players in the space.4Today theres even more competition as the market has continued to expand rapidly. With such acrowded market and such large interest from marketers, core social features have become standardrequirements and other factors are what differentiate vendors from one another. As a result, the wayweve evaluated vendors in this space has changed too: 4. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited November 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals3Core features are now table stakes. Weve created a list of standard features in key areas thatevery community platform vendor should offer to even be considered in the space (see Figure 1).Vendors that offer something particularly special in addition to these features begin to stand outfrom the crowd.Services matter even more. Marketers increasingly look to platform vendors to provide keystrategic advice and ongoing analysis to assess the health of their community programs. Theservices that matter most are strategic planning, rebranding and integration, and communitymanagement.A marketing-focused vision is key. Since marketers needs are specific including ease ofdeployment, user-friendly interfaces, and community management and moderation vendorswho focus on them most directly are likely to be the best match for interactive marketerslaunching consumer-facing communities. Therefore, vendors score higher for their vision if itsclearly focused on the needs of marketers. 5. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedNovember 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals4Figure 1 Community Platform Standard FeaturesSource: Forrester Research, Inc.Core administration featuresAdminister permissioningMember permissioningMember moderationCustomization of look and feel via WYSIWYGCustomization of look and feel via CSSFeature selectionMember status and loyalty specicationsAutomated email administrationAbility to create new communitiesCore analytics featuresTrac across all content typesRegistrations and user activityCustomizable report templatesAccess to data warehouse for custom manual reportsMost popular contentMost popular membersInuencer identicationCore content management, syndication, and import featuresRSS feeds of all community contentShare this buttonFacebook integration (SSO + users can post to Facebook from within community)Twitter integration (SSO + users can post to Twitter from within community)Ability to create widgets to pull content from external social Web to communityAbility to create widgets to syndicate content from community to external social WebCore moderation featuresAutomated moderation based on dened keywordsUGC moderationAbility to choose pre- or post-moderationAbility to hide all content by an abusive memberAbility to remove a memberAbility to enable member-reported abuse (i.e., aggings)Ability to establish rules for autohiding content based on member reportingCore functionalityMember prolesSocial networkingBlogsWikisDiscussion boardsPollsGroupsPrivate messagingRatingsReviewsPhoto galleriesVideo upload/embedBadges/reputation systemCommentingShare this/social bookmarkingSearchCustom pages57521 6. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited November 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals5Community platform Evaluation OverviewTo assess the state of the community platform market, Forrester evaluated the strengths andweaknesses of five of the top six community platform vendors, who all have a significant lead onother vendors in the space according to our qualification criteria.5Criteria Focuses On Services, Leadership, And ViabilityAfter examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, wedeveloped a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria. We evaluated vendors against 60 criteria,which we grouped into three high-level buckets:Current offering. These criteria focus on the features and functionality of the platform, strategicand technical services available through the vendor, the usability of the tools, and the depth ofintegrations possible between the community platform and other systems.Strategy. These criteria are used to evaluate the overall positioning and vision of the companyand its ability to meet the immediate and long-term needs of marketers launching consumer-facing communities. Included in these criteria are the vendors mission, road map, partners,employee base, and leadership team.Market presence. This section includes standard criteria like revenue growth, number of clients,customer retention rate, and enterprise client base, as well as marketer-specific criteria like thevendors focus on marketing and large-scale communities.Vendors Have Experience Launching Marketing Communities For Large CompaniesForrester included five vendors in the assessment: Lithium, Jive, KickApps, Telligent, and Mzinga(see Figure 2). Each of these vendors has:A large client base of interactive marketers with consumer-facing communities. Each of thevendors has a strong track record of launching external communities for marketing purposesand with the needs of interactive marketers in mind.Experience working with enterprise-level companies. All of the vendors have experienceworking with customers whose companies earn $1 billion or more, which represent at least 20%of their customer bases.Experience supporting multiple large communities. Each company currently hosts severalcommunities with at least 250,000 members.Healthy revenue and growth. The vendors have shared either publicly or privately theirrevenue and customer acquisition numbers, which indicate solid financials and healthy growth. 7. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedNovember 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals6Solid customer bases and retention rates. All of the vendors have shared the number ofcustomers they serve and their customer turnover rates, which indicate stable customer bases.Figure 2 Evaluated Vendors: Product Information And Selection CriteriaSource: Forrester Research, Inc.VendorJive SoftwareKickAppsLithium TechnologiesMzingaTelligent SystemsProduct evaluatedJive EngageSocial Media PlatformSocial Customer SuiteOmniSocial 2010Telligent CommunityProduct versionevaluated4.55.09.122.05.5Versionrelease dateJune 2010July 2010August 2010June 2010February 2010Vendor qualication criteriaMore than 10 consumer-facing communities with 250,000 members or moreAt least 20% of their clients earn $1 billion or more in annual revenue.At least 50% of their clients deploy the platform for customer-facing communities.Client demand from inquiries57521competition among vendors gives marketers several strong choicesThe evaluation uncovered a market in which (see Figure 3):Lithium and Jive lead the pack. With strong technology backbones, richness of features,and a wide variety of service offerings, Lithium and Jive are best-positioned to serve thegreatest number of marketers. Lithium offers particular expertise in community managementfor interactive marketers whose business objective is to maximize engagement with theirconsumers through an external community. Jive offers comprehensive tools to integrate thecustomer community with internal, employee-facing collaboration platforms, allowing theinteractive marketers customer-facing community to become a key piece of a companys overallsocial business initiatives.KickApps, Telligent, and Mzinga offer competitive options. As Strong Performers, each isable to cater to marketers basic technical needs and each has a distinctive aspect that makes itappropriate for specific kinds of marketers. What primarily distinguishes them from the Leadersis their room to grow in the services area, the unique features they offer, and their overall 8. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited November 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals7strategies. KickApps has deep and intuitive self-service tools that make it possible to launch acommunity in mere hours. Mzinga offers a marketer-friendly administrative console and liveonline event tools. Telligent enables marketers to integrate with many existing business systemsand to create their own innovative features on top of Telligents stable platform.This evaluation of the community platform market is intended to be a starting point only. Weencourage readers to view detailed product evaluations and adapt the criteria weightings to fit theirindividual needs through the Forrester Wave Excel-based vendor comparison tool.Figure 3 Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010Source: Forrester Research, Inc.Go online to downloadthe Forrester Wave toolfor more detailed productevaluations, featurecomparisons, andcustomizable rankings.RiskyBets Contenders LeadersStrongPerformersStrategyWeak StrongCurrentofferingWeakStrongMarket presenceJiveSoftwareLithium TechnologiesMzingaTelligent SystemsKickApps 9. 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedNovember 1, 2010The Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010For Interactive Marketing Professionals8Figure 3 Forrester Wave: Community Platforms, Q4 2010 (Cont.)Source: Forrester Research, Inc.CURRENT OFFERINGBreadth of oeringPlatformDataIntegrationUsabilityServicesFeaturesPricingSTRATEGYLeadershipInternal resourcesMARKET PRESENCEFinancial viabilityClientsForrestersWeighting50%100%30%10%10%10%25%15%0%50%90%10%0%50%50%JiveSoftware3.310.004.003.003.801.402.654.200.004.334.255.003.483.753.20KickApps3.070.003.553.003.403.002.203.450.003.904.003.002.952.503.40LithiumTechnologies3.600.004.003.003.103.003.154.650.004.554.505.003.403.003.80Mzinga3.010.002.953.003.003.002.753.60...</p>