on 03-04-2009 12:07 PM
My company is considering purchasing Lithium services to built a new community for our users. We are a B2B Networking Technology company with about 10,000 customers.
I'd love to hear from other companies who've been running on Lithium for some time and get their views. Have you got a good Return on investment?
Probably it would be the best in your case.
With that many customers it would help your product grow as they are checking your site and participating in the community.
if you decide to make your community let me know ill join it
Welcome to the Lithosphere! I manage the Future Shop Community Forum, which was launched June 2007 on the Lithium platform. I don't know what other options you're considering for a Community platform (build it yourself or working with another company), but here's a bit about my experience working with Lithium:
Launch: I joined the team just after the FS Community was launched, however, I've heard plenty about the experience. We launched a highly customized community that required a lot of technical support from a few different 3rd party companies. They took the time to understand the vision and worked with us to build a community that met our needs. Beyond working with us on the technical aspect, they were also committed to making sure that we were set up for success in terms of moderation, community set-up and guidelines.
Moderation: they can provide you with a staff of experienced moderators who can help set the tone of your community and ensure that the guidelines set forth by your organization are being followed. You can leverage their experience in other communities and benefit from their insight into user behaviour.
Post-launch support: you'll be assigned a Customer Success Manager once you've launched who will answer your questions, help resolve any technical issues, explain new features & and coordinate the roll-out of platform upgrades. You also have the benefit of the knowledge and experience of the Lithosphere community, which is crawling with community managers looking to share ideas and best practices on every topic from how to set up a ranking structure to how to leverage the REST API.
Platform upgrades: One of the very best things about working with Lithium is that they have a team of dedicated developers who are constantly working on improving the community platform. This is a really important benefit as it takes a lot of time, talent and money to do develop improvements - having them manage this means that you can focus more on community strategy and less on the technical side of things.
Take a look at their customer roster - it's a long list of top companies who all have different needs for their communities. Lithium has come a long way in a short amount of time - I remember being told that photo uploading would never be an option on the Lithium community - but then they went and developed that capability! They have a strong plan moving forward with continued platform improvements and enhancements.
Happy to answer any other questions you might have
I'm not sure about how Lithium is at launching a community (since the one I'm at was launched before I started working on it), but I know that the Lithium software and support is wonderful!
Furthermore, I'm not sure on how much "the money" is. I really wanted to use Lithium on my own, personal website. Everytime I contacted them about it I never recieved a response--and this was months ago, and no one in the financial area from my community will tell me the price. ha-ha. It's very strange. Eventually, I just gave up and decided to use Invision Power Board and related components.
03-07-2009 08:06 AM - edited 03-07-2009 12:08 PM
I think you are absolutely doing the right thing in looking around and making an informed decision. We did as well, but in the time leading up to our selection of Lithium in 2007, there was no Lithosphere to be able to talk to other members. I think Lithium has done a fantastic thing in setting up the Lithosphere, so you can see how the technology works, or at least a substantial portion of it.
We considered several approaches including self hosting, a low cost hosting implementation of free or low cost wares like phpBB or vbulletin, but looked beyond just the platform and hosting costs to the kind of services - the quality of the data center, the depth of experience of the people who were there to advise, plan and support you. We also looked at the overall feature set of the software from the top 3 competitors, and the list of clients that each of these competitors had. I concluded that Lithium was the solution that more of our peer companies were going with, and at the time, the pricing was attractive and very scalable.
I also think a company has to look at total cost of running a community. It's easy to focus on the platform itself, but I think one has to look at how many people in the company are going to be involved, how their time is valued and accounted for.
And then, most importantly, I think one has to look at the ROI - what do you want to get out of the community? How are you accomplishing those things without a community (or are you accomplishing all of them well?) and what is it costing to do so? What kinds of community features are you going to need now and in the future? Is Lithium, or another leading provider's platform and general evolutionary roadmap heading where you want to go?
All this said, I have been very pleased with Lithium's flexibility and support since we began our initial talks, leading up to launch, and the ongoing support they have extended once deployed.