Online Community Vendor Spotlight: Socious

As you may have heard, Lindy and I are working on a white paper – working title Building Community For Associations: SocialFish on Six Social Networking Platform Providers to the Association Industry – which will provide information about six online community vendors. The vendors we chose are among the companies we work with, and are those who are also an integral part of the association community – which is a big plus in our opinion. They understand association issues and concerns, and understand community needs based around a framework of membership and citizenship. This post is the first of six Online Community Vendor Spotlights where we interviewed the CEO of each company. I will post one every few days in the run up to ASAE’s Annual Meeting, at which time we’ll have more information available on the full white paper (which will of course be a free download).

CEO Interview – Scott Balthazor, Socious

1) Tell us a bit about the history behind Socious. How did you get where you are now?

Socious was started in 2002. Two of us were batting around the problem that large scale ERP customers were having: how to find connections and solutions to problems that we knew they all had. While there were user groups and associations out there, no one had developed a secure place for them to share and network with each other over the internet. We contacted one of the largest PeopleSoft associations (the Higher Education User Group) knowing that due to their “Higher Education†nature, they would gravitate towards this type of social interaction. We built the 1st version of the software with them and Socious was born.

We then virally grew quickly as related groups heard about their success. We focused our development and support efforts on making the tools the infinitely configurable tools we have today that fit the needs of any size/style of association or user group.

2) What’s your vision for the company? Where are you going?

While Socious has always been a software company, we are a service company at heart. While other companies may have more installations than us, our focus has always been on understanding our customers goals and helping them utilize our tools to meet those goals – not just getting them running. Our vision for the company is to offer unparalleled customer support to make every one of our current (and future) clients as successfully as they can be.

Part of that support is understanding where the market is going, seeing future trends, and listening to what our client’s needs are – and bringing those ideas together with cutting edge functionality. We were the first to seamlessly integrate 3rd party social networking content into user profiles, we were the first to have a full event system for chapters and sub groups, we were the first with a mobile application, and we were the first with advocacy tracking tools. For our clients to stay ahead of the curve Socious must as stay ahead as well with industry-leading functionality and support and continue to have ‘firsts.’

3) What makes Socious’ platform unique?

I think the main thing that makes our software unique is the amount of functionality we offer in our software and the number of ways that it can be configured. While each client may have similar needs, each client is unique in how they want to meet those needs – and Socious has functionality to make sure every need is met. When you look at the depth of functionality in each of our modules, our difference shines through. Socious is not just a social networking tool, but a powerful knowledge repository that considers how a busy member would engage with a site like this. Our biggest advantage is that our developers have put all of this functionality in the software and still keep it easy to use.

4) How do you see your platform shaping the association industry? How does it change “business as usual” at the operational level?

Many associations look at social media as their outpost strategy (how they use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) and their private social network strategy (on their own site) as two separate strategies. Our belief is that those two strategies need to be one overall social media strategy and each of those functions must compliment the other. Socious gives associations the tools to integrate content from their member’s outpost accounts and repurpose it for use with the association. Your members already have pictures on Flickr, updates on Twitter, profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook and videos on YouTube. Don’t try to be a substitute for these tools because your website never will be. Where we change the game is allowing members to use the tools they already love and the content they already have to participate within your association in a way, before Socious, they never could.

5) If you could use just three adjectives to describe Socious, what would they be and why?

Powerful- Socious has the functionality to turn your website into a destination.
Seamless- No matter if we are integrated with an AMS, LinkedIn, YouTube or any other 3rd party system, it is easy to share information with the Socious system.
Supported- With Socious, you have a support team that is not only there for you, but cares about your success.

Stay tuned for more CEO interviews, as well as more details about the white paper in due course.
Want more info on Socious?
contact: Paul Schneider, 602-734-5353
Twitter: @paulschneideraz

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