#TipTuesday: Open vs Private Communities – What's Right for your Community

shudebine HLV Staff
edited September 2023 in Talk Community #1

Time for another #TipTuesday! 

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Are you presently faced with the decision between establishing an open or private community? If that's the case, you're in the right place for some valuable insights. 

Deciding whether to build an open or private community for your company depends on your specific objectives and the nature of your business.  Here are some considerations to help you determine which option is right for you: 

Building an Open Community: 

Building an open community can be a powerful and strategic tool for companies looking to increase their brand visibility and engage with a broader audience.  Open communities are accessible to the public allowing you to reach a wide range of existing and potential customers and stakeholders.  By allowing anyone to participate, you create a public forum where customers and users can openly interact, demonstrating your company’s commitment to transparency. Open communities provide opportunities for knowledge sharing, networking, and connection with a wide range of people. Additionally, it’s worth noting that open communities can potentially have a positive impact on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) allowing Google crawlers to fully index content, potentially boosting your online presence. 

However, be prepared for challenges like content moderation, handling negativity, and managing spam. An open community may not be suitable if your company deals with highly sensitive information, confidential data, or if you need strict control over the discussions. 

Building a Private Community: 

Private communities are well-suited for companies that want to create a more exclusive and controlled environment for networking and collaboration. These communities are often used for specific purposes, such as customer support, beta testing, or professional networking. By limiting access to a select group of individuals, you can create a space for like-minded professionals, customers, or partners to feel comfortable sharing personal insights or engaging in in-depth discussions. This exclusivity can lead to deeper relationships, focused discussions, and opportunities for information sharing. 

Additionally, private communities can be used for premium or subscription-based services providing added value to loyal customers. However, building and maintaining a private community can require more resources in terms of moderation, membership management, and content curation. You must also have a balance between exclusivity and inclusivity, ensuring that your community remains engaging and relevant to its members. 

Combining Both Open and Private Communities: 

Some companies opt for a hybrid approach, combining both open and private communities to cater to different needs. For instance, you could maintain open and general categories, ensuring brand visibility and knowledge sharing for specific roles, while providing private categories tailored to premium roles, offering specialized support and access to exclusive content. Furthermore, you could create a homepage using Vanilla’s Layout Editor, featuring widgets tailored to different role types, providing a more personalized user experience. 

Vanilla offers a range of registration methods allowing your company to choose between immediate access, administrator or moderator review and approval, invitation by existing members, or single sign-in (SSO). 

It's important to note that implementing the hybrid approach may require additional setup time and thorough testing to ensure roles have access only to the relevant content.  Moreover, if you opt not to use SSO for role assignment, it may require increased moderation resources to manage role updates effectively. 

In conclusion, the choice between an open or private community should align with your company's goals, audience, and available resources. Open communities offer broad reach and transparency, while private communities provide control and exclusivity. Consider your company's specific needs and goals to determine which approach aligns best with your overall strategy and brand identity. In some cases, a combination of both open and private communities may be the most effective way to engage with your audience and achieve your business objectives. 


If you haven’t seen our last #tiptuesday post, check it out here! More tips, examples, and Higher Logic Vanilla product highlights will be shared every Tuesday 😊 

Is your community open or private?  We’d love to hear about the factors you weighed when making this decision.