Often, as coworking space managers, we’ll want to extend our communication and community building efforts even further with great online tools. There have been many attempts at making internal community platforms and communication tools, whether for staff, members, or both. There are only three that I recommend at this point due to their ease of use and functionality.
Regardless of what tools you use for extending your communication and community efforts, you must have an active staff member cultivating the online experience as much as the in-person experience. Many implementations of the following tools turn into virtual ghost towns after a short initial period of using them because there's no representative from the coworking space actively engaging in the platform.
In the end, the platform is only useful if it enhances your communication and community cultivation efforts. Don't force it.
Slack is often the go-to choice for handling individual and mass communications at many coworking spaces and with many internal teams at companies and organizations around the world. The user interface is quite simple, and you have the ability to tag words, search for terms, create multiple chat rooms for various subjects, and of course post hilarious GIFs to emphasize your point.
If managed correctly, this can be a powerful tool for communication, and for members to stay in touch when out of the space.
Honestly, I haven’t often been a fan of most online community tools, but Bisner impresses me. It’s almost like a white-label Facebook for your space but without all the distractions (and ads) Facebook supplies. Members can create discussion groups, events, chat with other members, list and view detailed profiles, and the tool even integrates with the bookings modules in other coworking management platforms.
The design is excellent, the experience is great, and they are mobile friendly.
Facebook groups are a great way to keep your online community in the same place your members already hang out on the internet. Let’s face it; most people don’t want yet another tool for social interaction. This is the biggest barrier to creating the feeling of a real online community in the tools above.
If you’re struggling to get activity or traction on your other online community and communication tools, then stick with the original. Facebook groups are easy to set up, provide Facebook notifications, and exist in a browser window your members most likely have open all day long.