Private vs Semi-Private vs Public


(Dave Charbonneau) #1

What did YOU choose, and why?

After much CHIP-ing away, I’m finally working on my platform (decided to go with SocialEngine.com, on the cloud).

Here are my options for the type of group:

  1. Public (anyone can see and post)
  2. Semi-Private (anyone can see, only members can post/comment)
  3. Private (only members can see, post, comment)

I won’t go with Public, but I’d love some help in deciding between the other two options.

I love how FeverBee.com has articles on their home page. I feel like I can get to know the group before joining.

However, if I hadn’t been searching for community help on Google, I don’t think I would have known that FeverBee also contained a community (tho the updated 3-option banner is a nice add:)

To start out, I’ll have more community than content, tho I won’t even have that much community. 10 to 20 members. I WILL have 10 episodes of my video-cast, and I suppose I COULD start with that. I have some older blog posts, too, that I could add, but at this point I’m not planning on adding a lot to the blog.

Again, I love the idea of a site that is functional outside the community, but I’m also happy with a landing page (like i have now) that encourages people to join the community before they get to see what’s on the inside.

Also, I’m a bit concerned whether members will want to post their questions for outsiders to see. I find that some small biz owners don’t like to let others see them have questions about their own business.

It would be cool if people could choose for a comment or post to be private to the group, but I’m uncertain whether that’s an option.

Any advice on this? What did YOU choose, and why?


(Linda Missal) #2

Hi Dave,

Great question! Townsquared serves a similar audience (small business - mostly focused on brick and mortar mom-N-pop type businesses) and we are completely private for the very reason you mentioned: business owners can be scared to admit they need help or don’t know something because they know it all falls to them at the end of the day.

One of our main “edges” at Townsquared is that none of these businesses’ customers will see their questions. No one will know that they’re unsure if they’re following a certain local regulation, or if they’re doing marketing right, or if they need a new accountant, etc. No one wants to see how the sausage is made!

That said, it creates a lot of challenges for us when trying to entice new members to join because they can’t see what the community really looks like until they actually sign up. We get around this by having a robust built-in invitation system. Keeping your videos and additional blog content “public” can help if you do choose to go private.

Also, tell the stories of how members have solved challenges and share positive outcomes through blog posts as well (with their permission, of course). A short post about how John, owner of John’s Plumbing was able to get input from the community and solve a challenges that impacted his bottom line or maybe even saved him from going out of business is extremely compelling!

Good luck :slight_smile: and keep us posted about how it’s going!


(Dave Charbonneau) #3

Yeah, I pretty much landed on this decision after I hit the POST button. :slight_smile:

These are great ideas, @Linda_Missal. Thank you. And the testimonials/stories are great, too! Thank you so much.

I do wish I had the opportunity to have the group select whether their post or comments should be viewable as public or private. However, mistakes in this area might be very costly.


(Linda Missal) #4

You can simply do this manually (especially while the community is small). After a great post goes up, reach out to that member to ask if it can be “featured” on your blog, and then it will be visible to the outside world - just be careful to get permission before sharing any of the comments from each community members who posted as well!


(Dave Charbonneau) #5

Ok, cool. I’ll look into this. Now to find a platform. :slight_smile:

I was looking at SocialEngine, but someone told me of Invision. Both allow a low-cost start option, and self-hosting once we get rolling. Decisions, decisions.


(Sarah Hawk) #6

Not based on data, but I’d go for semi-private. I feel more comfortable signing up if I have already see the value. Social proof is pretty important these days, because we’re already overloaded.[quote=“Dave_Charbonneau, post:1, topic:3503”]
Also, I’m a bit concerned whether members will want to post their questions for outsiders to see. I find that some small biz owners don’t like to let others see them have questions about their own business.
[/quote]

Have you asked them? This sounds like a fundamental make or break decision.

Good feedback. I suspected that was the case so added the banner recently to combat it. 22% of sessions result in a click, so it’s working.


(Sarah Hawk) #7

So just thinking more on this, I think that researching your audience here is probably key.

The social proof aspect is important to ME, but I don’t use communities for sharing potentially sensitive information. If privacy is important to your audience, you need to know that up front.


(Dave Charbonneau) #8

Thanks, Hawk. I might try for a hybrid (assuming my platform can handle such a thing). If I find useful posts, ask permission and send them to the front page. Sensitive stuffs stay inside. One challenge with this is that those looking in from the outside might assume their posts would show, too. Hmm… I’ll have to think about it. And like you said, ask the audience.