Last night Microsoft announced the launch of their community offering which is available on both free and paid Teams accounts. It's only available on the mobile app currently, but functionally it seems to be a pretty straightforward offering. Available on the home screen, you can either choose a templated group or set up your community from scratch.
After a few simple steps of naming, adding icons, inviting people to join, you are pretty much up and running. The community guidelines (helpful for those new to setting up a community), are on the skinny side, but you can easily supplement these/ write your own. Since it’s Teams, events, chat, links, photos and files are, as you'd expect, built-in.
Microsoft’s focus seems to be targeting smaller local community groups (going after Facebook Groups perhaps?), with templates for sports, neighbourhood, parents, schools etc. However, some useful elements are missing, like discussion channels within the community or (apparently) any tracking or reporting. But it’s certainly smart of them to try to spread Teams, which is generally perceived as a work tool, into a wider demographic. They will doubtless be hoping to tempt people away from the more basic Whatsapp groups. Come to think of it, Whatsapp PLUS is quite a good way of characterising it.
To sum up;
Simplicity of offering / use.
Free – you can’t complain that the price isn’t right!
Ideal for more local/ smaller groups.
It’s Teams, so you need to have the app. Perhaps not the most obvious choice currently (partic for this target market.)
Not available on desktop currently.
Could imagine it gets v busy with chats. We only took a quick look, but it seems there's no way to set up channels or discussions within the community. Probably not the best user experience as your community grows.
We can’t see where you would get reporting or stats - we assume this is not available.
But all in all, a good “starter pack” addition to the many, many community platforms on offer. For us, though, the most exciting thing is that yet another major company is recognising the power of community.