With a rapidly increasing social media connective environment online, it has become important for companies to capitalize on this aspect of customer generation as well as client retention. This essentially means that users would have an interest in discussing a product, service or even a brand with other like- minded members. It thus becomes necessary to provide a platform where they can express and communicate together.
Popular social media sites have generally been the most available platform where users can communicate and share ideas, however by offering a dedicated social website based on the relevant subject, an environment of better understanding is automatically created. Such specialised community software platforms are the ideal outlet for customer’s to discuss a product of a brand, a brand itself or provide their own experiences. These platforms are not only meant for the benefit of a consumer, but a source of interaction between a company and its customers.
This is only one aspect where community software platforms can be employed. Flexible community software like Oxwall offers its users the possibility to shape their website in any way they wish for it to look and operate. Being a community driven open source platform, a number of useful plugins are developed by third party members. These plugins don’t alter the core of the program, therefore are easy to use and install.
To date there have been a myriad of plugins and themes developed that are either free to use or are offered at a price to buy and install in the Oxwall website. Manipulating different combinations of these variables, users can either generate a fan- site to discuss their common interests, or a dating website with access purchasing options inbuilt. A brief overview of some of the most versatile modifications to an Oxwall site can be discussed and how they are operated. This will enable a user to determine the best avenue where they can implement Oxwall to their benefit.
The Oxwall software can be either installed from the Softcalous site with their auto- installer onto a local computer, or it can be installed using a website hosting service. If installed on the local computer, it would assume it to be the server and would therefore use the storage and bandwidth that is available at hand. The Oxwall foundation also offers web hosting services for a subscription fee, which runs on Amazon infrastructure.
After installation, the social platform would be able to be accessed and customized by the administrator. The basic theme of the site can be customized by selecting from either the pre- loaded themes or by opting for one developed by a third party. Logging in for visitors has also been facilitated by offering a Facebook connect instead of filling out a new user form. The newsfeed would seem familiar to other popular social media network sites, offering a content rich experience.
However, apart from the look and user interface of the site, the actual purpose of the website would be determined by the apps that would be installed to shape the function of the platform. Some of the apps and their respective purpose relative to the audiences, have been expanded upon here.
This platform can be used as a dynamic social media network for users and their friends. The Facebook like friend system provides convenient and clear interactions among its members. Plugins for private messaging, video and audio calling can be installed to provide a greater range of interaction.
Users can be assigned roles as moderators or other positions by the administrator to distinguish members of the site. Each group of members performing a role can be assigned access or restricted by the admin. This adds a further dimension in the nature of a community site.
File sharing plugins are available from the Oxwall’s developers community on GitHub’ repository and allow users to share files through the site.
Companies can develop social platforms to support external communities, like a fan- base. It can also be developed to form an employee or internal community, for members to discuss professional or even social related topics among themselves. A platform could also host both internal and external communities for interaction of customers with employees to boost a company’s rapport or simply to better understand their consumer base through engagement. Social communities can prove beneficial to a company as they deliver business value by increasing interaction, addressing issues, measuring satisfaction levels and building stronger relationships.
The scope of Oxwall is incalculable in terms of generating a platform for a social community to develop and generate interactions in an environment that is extensively customisable.