Untapped Community Platform Business Models

Given the state of the economy, monetization is at top of mind for this blooming social media industry, in fact, we’re not seeing a tremendous amount of it. I can see some entry level opportunities for community platforms, here’s some quick ideas that have been churning in my mind, I release them here in public and maybe someone will make something of it:

Hook then offer premium services
Like Yammer, create an easy to create community tool that allows any person in a company to quickly setup an enterprise class social network and start collaborating –sans the sales folks. Let it be rebrandable, but with features perhaps more robust than Ning or Yahoo groups, that tie into company confirmed email addresses. Then once you get 10% of the company hooked, you’re able to start to have an enterprise licensing discussion. I’m surprised no one has done this.

Go the consumer route –then build network
We’re seeing more of an influx from Liveworld’s features LiveBar that let an ‘social media overlay’ quickly be plugged into any website, as well as Plum which offers features that can be quickly embedded into websites. The trick here is to gain mass consumer adoption, and then switch up business models away from premium instead to an advertising model, data collection, much how buzzlogic has morphed their business model.

Start em when they’re young
While there’s many social media tools for the classroom, I’ve yet to hear about a robust social media community platform that could be used for schools for the entire duration of a students enrollment at an education institution. While schools may be reluctant to pick up the tab, there’s ways to monetize that let parents purchase premium services, or education vendors like Scholastic, Kaplan, or other supplementary services.

Ideas are cheap, and I have no idea sharing these in public. What’s more important is prioritizing your feature roadmap based upon market needs. As a result lately, I’ve been doing strategy sessions with product teams at enterprise companies to discuss how their products can benefit from the social web. You’ll see some major products released from large companies in the coming quarters, some of them, I had a direct hand in shaping and molding.

Not all of the community platform plays need to be at enterprise level, there’s quite a few other untapped ways to monetize. Leave a comment if you’ve another idea, or see some of this in action.