In this post, we look at how you can use third party services like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Shopify to add additional functionality to your Zipline Custom Community.



A brief history of third-party services

In the early days of the Internet websites were islands, operating independently of each other. It was soon realised that a service offered by one website could be really useful to another. Soon, web-based platforms started providing access to their core services for others to take advantage of. Third party service integration was born.


How can third-party services help me?

By integrating with third-party services you can bring functionality to your Custom Community that would otherwise be expensive to achieve. Think maps, video uploading, shopping carts and more. Third party services also allow you to exploit content built from millions (sometimes billions) of users by ‘pulling’ data into your community. Think Twitter #tags, YouTube’s video library and so on. Even better, you can push data into third-party platforms as well. Think automated posting to FaceBook or updating your SalesForce customer database.

A majority of third-party integration is achieved through the use of APIs. API’s remove user intervention by using a set of rules and instructions that ‘push’ and ‘pull’ data between each other. These ‘conversations’ are managed by pieces of software added to your Zipline Custom Community called plugins. Some plugins for third party service are freely available to download. However, it is often the case that your specific requirements won’t be supported. This is not a problem!  Zipline can develop third party integration plugins, customised to your exact requirements.

That’s enough of the technical. I want to focus the remainder of this post on how various third-party services can be used to enhance the features you can offer your community members and yourself. This list is by no means an exhaustive.

If you are interested in integrating third-party services into your community, get in touch with Zipline. We’ll help develop your ideas and uncover what’s possible.


Examples of third-party services you can add to your community


Facebook. A third party service


There are limitations to what data you can pull from Facebook. None the less, given FaceBook’s massive appeal as a destination site and a route to your Custom Community, integration should be considered when planning your Custom Community. Examples of what you can do include:

  • Push content from your community into your Facebook wall/page.
  • Leverage Facebook commenting tools
  • Insert posts from your feed/page’s feed into your community
  • Offer share tools posts from your Community


Google Maps. A third party service

Google Maps

Allows you to show integrate Google maps into your Custom Community.

  • Display interactive street view images
  • Embed Google maps into your Custom Community, including location pins, related images and directions
  • Upload location data to a custom Google Map


Instagram. A third party service


Taps into the extensive database of images added by billions of users across the world. Examples of how you can integrate Instagram include:

  • Display your Instagram – you can bring your Instagram feed into your community to create a picture wall, or similar
  • Display community member’s Instagram – get members to add their Instagram details to bring their profiles to life
  • #tags – pull in posts with specific #tags from across the Instagram-sphere to create walls of relevant visual content effortlessly


YouTube. A third party service


A staggeringly large database of video content can be leveraged through YouTube. Really, the only limit to using YouTube is your imagination. But to give some examples:

  • Get members to upload videos to a YouTube account
  • Advanced video search functionality built into your Custom Community
  • Deep integration with your YouTube channel
  • Control start and end points of your videos
  • Feed video content directly into your community based on user/tag/category and more


SalesForce. A third party service


Has a wide-ranging suite of API’s. Note – some SalesForce integration options are only accessible with specific SalesForce packages.

  • ‘Push’ and ‘pull’ community member information to and from your SalesForce CRM database
  • Leverage data in your SalesForce database to offer member specific services
  • Update salesforce with data generated on your Custom Community


Shopify. A third party service


Shopify has an extensive API library that allows you to deeply integrate their services with your Custom Community. Ultimately, Shopify makes it possible to create a seamless user experience where your community members will not know where your Custom Community stops and the Shopify service starts. This deep level of integration makes Shopify one of the more compelling shopping cart services to use if you are wishing to include a sales channel within your community. Though you may also want to check out woocommerce. Here’s just a taste of some integration opportunities:

  • Leverage Shopify to offer premium/memberships services on your community
  • List products available on your Shopify storefront in your Custom Community
  • Integrate the Shopify check out
  • Add key shopping information e.g. delivery information, availability, etc.
  • Promote discounts


Single Sign-On (SSO)

You’ve likely used SSO for multiple sites yourself. SSO allows people to sign into your Custom Community using accounts from third parties. The key players of SSO include:

SSO integration significantly lowers the barriers to entry for new member sign-ups and return visitors. SSO works across devices. As a bonus by using SSO, you have the option of bringing over an individual member’s profile picture, name and more, further reducing the effort a new member must put into signing up.

More Information

Zipline has a vast range of experience integrating third-party services into custom build online communities. Find out more.