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If you are getting frustrated with researching and choosing the best social networking software, then you will find this article very useful.

When I first starting looking for social networking software packages, I faced the same problems. Whenever I would look up user reviews on a specific package, I would either find sales pitches by the providers or reviews full of negative comments written by disgruntled users. As you know, these software solutions aren’t cheap, so making a decision was awful!

 

1st problem:  Lots of negative reviews, few positive ones.

Whenever you hit “dolphin” or “alstrasoft” in google, you’ll probably come across many reviews of people saying they are all a scam. Is this true?

Each of these reviews needs to be put into perspective. Customers become upset when they buy something that does not meet their expectations. Looking at the software features given by the providers, I often wonder what these customers were actually expecting. Most of the time, disgruntled customers did not understand the nature of the product they were buying.

Social networking software solutions like Dolphin, Dzoic, etc, are out of the box. They come with a crucial list of features that are hardcoded. For someone with limited knowledge of php, html and other languages, modifying these scripts will be a tough job. Even for an experienced programmer, this would be a challenge. Due to the complexity of the software, a programmer would have to read a lot of documentation and then attempt to understand the complete structure from scratch to make significant changes to the functionality.

A lot of the bad reviews come from people who did not understand this and did not take the time to map out the exact requirements of their website before purchasing an out of the box package.

The first rule to being a satisfied customer is determining what it is you are expecting exactly. Only then can you look for a social networking software package that suits you best, and then possibly have minor changes made. Doing this the other way round is a costly recipe for failure.

2nd problem : the offer is too large!

There are over a hundred different providers out there. How on earth can you make an informed decision with all these negative reviews and costly price tags?

Again, the answer lies in your approach. No IT project can come to success without a clear specification of requirements. Once you have made a list of what you want your site to be able to do, you should already have limited the offer to a top 5 list.

Now is the time to start looking at the front-end layout (the part the users see and navigate through). Out of these 5, which one do you like best? Which of the software solutions do you think needs the least modifications layout and colour wise?

By now, you should have a shortlist of a few solutions that are fit for your needs.

3rd problem: They are all so expensive!!!

Lets think about this for a second. You are buying a software solution with multiple interactive features like chat, video, audio, twitter feeds, mobile feeds, polls, groups, affiliate management, etc.  If you were to build this from scratch, even with programming knowledge, you would be paying a lot more in terms of costly hours ticking by.

If you are not willing to invest this amount in your project, you should look for other solutions. Perhaps your project is better suited for something like Ning, which hosts social networks without you actually buying the script and building a website yourself.

Again, it all depends on your expectations. What is it that you want to achieve?

Conclusion:

1.    None of the solutions are “bad” as such. What makes some better than the others, is the customer service and documentation of the software.

2.    Being a happy customer depends a lot on yourself. Make a list of what you want exactly, and then start looking for a solution.

3.    Try to pick a solution that already has the layout you are looking for.

4.    Decide if your project is worth the money and compare this to the cost of a programmer or the time you would spend on it yourself.

5.    To help in your search, obtain lists of features for each product, preferably with some user reviews about the customer service.



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