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A Review of Social Networking / Knowledge Sharing Platforms

Posted by admin on Dec 16, 2010 in General

One of the largest growth trends in online platforms are the emulation of the large social networking platforms as internal knowledge systems and information sharing platforms that replacing intranets and some

The market is really split between the Software as a service model and the customisable application platform that ranges from the open source , to unlicenced to the large licenced platforms.

1. SAAS – software as a service
I recommend using the four leading software as a service social networking platforms. They varying from a low cost, basic entry platform to an entry level enterprise platform, Igloo. I am wary of the use of free platforms, as there are service and performance, data and user tradeoffs.

The notable exclusion to this list of SAAS social networking platforms is Ning. I founded and ran a Ning network almost from the very first day the network was setup. It was not without it problems but overall I was quite happy with it and its growth. But I am confounded by there shift in business model from being a free service to a paid service and many of the early networks setup on the platform have fled since they introduced it as a paid SAAS platform. Ning should never have changed its business model midstream.

I recently had an issue with a paid network on Ning’s basic plan that I had taken offline and was still being charged for. While the charge is a nominal monthly amount , they offer absolutely no way for you to contact their customer service, get support from them or ask to reverse the credit card payment or even contact them without paying for their premium service. Their online contact or support service is not available for their lowest plan even if its a paid service. No doubt there isn’t an effective system between the actual networks administration dashboards and the Ning accounting system that would stop these issues. I therefore must say I am appalled at Ning’s lack of service, their lack of information and contact points online to resolve the over billing issues and I do recommend against using them as a service. The network has since been migrated off Ning to Buddypress with great success and there are a number of plugins in Buddy press/ WordPress that can help you do this.

- Groupsite
- Kickapps
- Social Go
- Igloo (more enterprised based)

2. Licensed products
As far as I am concerned the five leading licensed social networking platforms to be used as both external and internal networking for companies varying from a basic entry level platform (Social Engine), to midlevel system (Webcrossing) to extensive enterprise level systems. (Mzinga, Telligent, MS, Lithium)

- Social Engine
- Mzinga
- Telligent
- Lithium
- Microsoft Sharepoint 2010


GroupSite is SAAS online social collaboration tool that you can use to create your own social network. Licensing has four tiers based on number of users and storage: Free (but ad-supported), small $29 per month, Midsized $49 , Large $99 per month. GroupSite tries to take the best out of social network applications and collaboration services while merging the best of the two worlds: customizable member profiles, group blog, discussion forum, photo galleries, videos and shared calendar are all standard features. Other core characteristics that make GroupSite stand out are: file sharing, members endorsement, analytics, permission controls, readily-available templates, email digest and more.


KickApps is an SAAS social platform that you can use to create an online group to gather your friends, to manage your employees or to collaborate with your co-workers. With prices starting at $39.95 per month, KickApps provides you with a blog, video- and photo-sharing capabilities and activity streams that help you visualize in real-time on a timeline what other group members are doing. File sharing is also permitted. The cost of a KickApp-powered social group is subject to how many people view the pages of your social network online. No forum discussion nor shared calendar are available. Kickaps is seen a leader /visionary in the social software industry.


SocialGO is SAAS that allows you to create your own social network. It has a similar interface and many Facebook-like features.
SocialGO comes in three versions: a free, ad-supported solution with standard features and an ad-free alternative priced at $29 per month. And a white labeled solution at $19.99 per month. The premium solution of SocialGO allows you to run your own ads and other advanced features like adding widgets to your website and using live audio / video chat. Personal and group blogs, each member has a wall where people can comment and post media, photo and video sharing capabilities, customizable member profiles, discussion forums and shared calendars to keep track of group events. Other features include: activity streams, file sharing, permission controls, readily-available templates, API, Facebook and Twitter integration, email notifications, and more.


Igloo is an SAAS community-building service tailored to business users. Licencing has three tiers , Basic $199 per month., Professional $599 per month , Enterprise $999 per month Standard features of Igloo business communities are: member profiles, blog, photo gallery, shared calendars and forum discussion, collaboration tools . Advanced features of Igloo-based communities are: wiki creation, rating, polling, analytics, real-time alerts, RSS, email reminders, pre-made templates, drag-and-drop interface , integrates with Sharepoint widgets, Blackberry but has no video sharing.

The leading licensed products on the market all have the core social networking elements and then are scalable range of other functional options that can include, ecommerce , event management, high end analytics and integration with CRM systems. The social networking platform is an evolving business segment in online services. It is tracked by Forresters and Gartners who produce regular quadrant based reports.
In its lastest Gartner quadrant for externaly facing social software it was noted “Externally facing social software (EFSS) products facilitate interactions beyond the firewall to create communities among employees, customers, suppliers, partners, alumni and other stakeholders.

The Social Engine social networking platform offers a good basic level licensable social networking platform. It its not clear how it can be built upon , however it does have a standard set of plugins modules that add functionality to the core engine.
Licensed product $250 per domain
Requires hosting on LAMP
Plugins – cost $40 per plugin for all social , blog , quiz etc apps
Template driven, drag and drop layout of plugin widgets
* Blogs, wikis and discussions
* Social profiles, groups,
* Video management and file sharing
* Events and calendars
* Chat , IM
* Polls
* Forums



White labeling social networking platform.
Webcrossing offers SAAS social networking platform – three levels of pricing, starter, middle and enterprise (can be licensed as a standalone as well ) – starting at $995- 19,995
It has two main products to consider.
Webcrossing core is a collaboration server engine that can be built upon to create custom social networks including a huge number of standard and customs services in the webcrossing plugin suite.
Webcrossing Community- fully fledged social networking platform with multiple service/ function based plugins
• Message Boards
• Chat & Live Events
• Mailing Lists
• Polls
• RSS Feeds
• Blogs
• Wiki
• Calendars
• Access Controls (private areas)
• Scripting
• Easy Notification of New Content
• Complete Web service, FTP and Email functionality
• Localization
• Scales to serve massive communities



Mzinga provides a platform and applications to host and manage a community through internal and external-facing communities, in sectors such as consumer goods, retail, healthcare and high technology.
Based Omnisocial suite which has all the expected functions of a working social network.
It has good reporting and analytics
Template driven, good customization features
Good application content , and user management features
Strong language support
The apps, too many to list here but a small sampling:

* Blogs, wikis and discussions
* Social profiles, comments & ratings, polls
* Video management and file sharing
* Event management
* To do lists, surveys & assessments
* Lending library, eCommerce
* Courses (for the LMS)
* Mobile
Pricing is based on SAAS Monthly subscription fee. Subscription fee varies based on whether you are choosing to deploy an internal/private site or external/public site, the monthly subscription fee applied would be based on a user model or page view model.
One time setup fee



Pricing is based on SAAS Monthly subscription fee for a hosted solutions and Licensed product – based on users numbers starting $70,000 approximately.
Telligent offers both a consuemr facing and enterprise community platform with high integration with existing IT systems , sharepoint , knowledge management systems , external applications, and social media networks, inc. LDAP, authentication. It has built itself around supporting Microsoft products so its fits quite well in corporate IT depts and intranets.
Very advanced analytics
Design can be customized.
• Enterprise blogs
• Full-featured wikis
• Rich media gallery
• Private messaging
• Customizable dashboards
• Easy, in-browser customization
• Enhanced search
• Discussion forums
• Question and answer support
• E-mail integration
• Unlimited private or public groups
• User profiles
• Activity streams
• Status updates and replies
• RSS feeds
• Dynamic widgets
• Multilingual capabilities
• External authentication systems for single sign-on



Lithium run a SAAS aimed at enterprise level social networking platforms. It offers the standard social networking features. Lithium provides a hosted community and associated applications primarily to host private-label social networks for an equal mix of business-to-business and business-to-consumer organizations.
High-end enterprise level Social CRM community platform that integrates CRM and social networking.
Full suit of social networking platform functions
Advanced analytics
Standard functions include the following features and more.
• Enterprise blogs
• Full-featured wikis
• Rich media gallery
• Private messaging
• Customizable dashboards
• Easy, in-browser customization
• Enhanced search
• Discussion forums
• User profiles
• Activity streams
• Status updates and replies
• RSS feeds



Microsoft is building a single collaboration platform for both internal users and external communities, and links that platform with Exchange, Office and Office Communications Server. SharePoint 2010 is a broad collaboration platform with which enterprises can facilitate social interactions and manage the growth of informal communities consisting primarily of people beyond the boundaries of the enterprise.
Sharepoint communities allows has most of the standard social networking and knowledge sharing applications .


• SharePoint has the broadest market penetration, in terms of the number of companies adopting it, of any product in this Magic Quadrant.
• Microsoft’s platform focus and the presence of a broad and deep ecosystem of developers and system integrators around SharePoint strengthens its position in the EFSS market.
• Many EFSS customers value the integration of SharePoint when used in the workplace and with other Microsoft products.

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