Online communities, how do they work? Seventy thousand of them live on the free Get Satisfaction platform, a system of message boards, customer support and marketing features. That free platform now has a few added features that were previously only available from the paid versions.

Engage Widgets, Mod Tools

For those already using the free version of Get Satisfaction, or those who might be thinking of setting up an online community, there are two updates including enhanced moderation tools and simpler embedding of the system.

Get Satisfaction offers companies a way to engage customers and prospects in various ways across websites or Facebook. It's a customizable system that includes highlighted topics, FAQs, content modules, curated topics or customer support for those looking for ways to better support existing customers or for those looking to add another avenue for gaining new customers. 

The free version allows companies to set up a network, configure it with the Engage Widgets (what the company calls the above listed features) and bestow one member with the administrator title. That administrator has the power to moderate topics and replies, anoint champions, suspend privileges of problem users, change topic types and set topic statuses, among other things.

User Forums for Everyone 

For proof of how far online technology has come, look no further than the success of sites like Reddit, the anonymous forum that brags about being the front page of the Internet. It's a very basic layout, but gets millions of visitors a month. 

Get Satisfaction can build these kinds of online forums for just about any industry, and the company has done well by covering small and medium sized businesses as well as the enterprise. One online community of Apple enthusiasts has been using Get Satisfaction for the last six years, and the most active members there help answer questions, start topics and generally hang out with other Apple folks.


One Apple community on the Get Satisfaction network has 27,000 customers active in its ranks.

Get Satisfaction made the most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social CRM as a niche player, and that means the company could be ripe for acquisition. Additionally, CMSWire contributor Jacob Morgan highlights Get Satisfaction as nearly ideal for those in the small business ranks. Tell us in the comments if you regularly use any online forums for products, services or entertainment.