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Traditional vs. Social Media Community Platforms: A Guide for Community Managers

In the realm of community management, the choice between traditional and social media platforms can significantly impact how you engage and grow your community. This blog post explores the pros and cons of traditional community platforms like Salesforce, HigherLogic, and Circle, against chat-based social media platforms such as Reddit and Discord.

Traditional Community Management Platforms


  • Customization and Branding: Traditional platforms offer extensive customization options, allowing for a tailored experience that aligns with your brand identity.

  • Integrated Analytics: They typically provide robust analytics tools, giving deeper insights into member behavior and engagement.

  • Structured Engagement: These platforms are designed for more structured interactions, making them ideal for formal discussions, resource sharing, and knowledge management.

  • Integration Capabilities: Often, they can be integrated with other business tools and CRM systems, streamlining community management within broader business processes.


  • Cost and Complexity: Traditional platforms can be expensive and complex, potentially posing challenges for smaller organizations or those with limited technical expertise.

  • Less Spontaneity: The structured nature of these platforms can sometimes limit spontaneous interactions, which are essential for building a vibrant community atmosphere.

  • Slower Adoption: Members might take longer to adopt and engage with these platforms, especially if they are not tech-savvy.

Chat-Based Social Media Platforms


  • Real-Time Engagement: Platforms like Reddit and Discord excel in facilitating real-time, dynamic interactions, fostering a more lively community spirit.

  • Broader Reach: Social media platforms can expose your community to a larger and more diverse audience.

  • Ease of Use: They are generally more user-friendly and require less time to set up and manage.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Many social media platforms offer free or lower-cost options, making them accessible to a wider range of communities.


  • Limited Customization: These platforms offer limited customization in terms of functionality and branding compared to traditional platforms.

  • Challenges in Moderation: Due to their dynamic nature, social media platforms can be harder to moderate, potentially leading to issues with maintaining community standards.

  • Less Control: You have less control over the platform itself, including potential changes in policies or features that could impact your community management.

Real-World Success Stories: Traditional vs. Social Media Platforms

To understand the practical application and effectiveness of these platforms, let's explore two success stories - one from a company utilizing a traditional community platform and another leveraging a social media platform.

Traditional Community Platform Success: Adobe

Adobe is an excellent example of a company that has effectively utilized a traditional community platform, specifically its Adobe Support Community.

How Adobe Achieved Success:

  • Robust Platform: Adobe’s community platform offers comprehensive forums, tutorials, and resources, catering to a wide range of user needs, from beginners to professionals.

  • Integration with Products: The community is seamlessly integrated with Adobe’s suite of products, allowing users to find support and share insights about specific software.

  • Customized User Experience: Adobe has tailored its community to provide a personalized experience for each user, based on their interests and engagement history.

  • Professional Networking: The platform encourages professional networking and collaboration, which adds value beyond simple problem-solving.

Social Media Platform Success: Glossier

Glossier, a beauty and skincare brand, represents a success story in utilizing social media platforms, particularly Instagram, for community building.

How Glossier Achieved Success:

  • Engaging Content: Glossier has mastered the art of creating visually appealing and relatable content that resonates with its audience.

  • Community Involvement: The brand frequently features user-generated content, making its customers feel like an integral part of the community.

  • Direct Communication: Through Instagram Stories, Q&As, and comments, Glossier maintains a direct and personal line of communication with its followers.

  • Building Brand Loyalty: By consistently engaging with its audience on Instagram, Glossier has built a loyal community that is invested in the brand’s identity and values.

Do What's Best For You

These examples illustrate how different platforms can be leveraged for community management success. Adobe’s use of a traditional community platform aligns well with its goal to provide comprehensive support and foster professional networking. On the other hand, Glossier’s use of a social media platform like Instagram allows it to engage directly with consumers, enhancing brand loyalty and community involvement. The choice of platform should align with a company's specific goals, audience, and the type of engagement they wish to foster.


The decision between traditional and social media community platforms hinges on your specific needs, the nature of your community, and your management style. Traditional platforms offer more control, customization, and integration with business tools but come at a higher cost and complexity. Social media platforms, conversely, excel in real-time engagement and ease of use but offer less control and customization. Understanding these differences will enable you to choose the right platform to nurture and grow your community effectively.

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