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Considerations for Content Migration

Content migration between platforms can be difficult and costly in both time and money. We’ve compiled — continue reading
Posted by Ronald te Brake
December 13, 2018

Content migration between platforms can be difficult and costly in both time and money. We’ve compiled some information about migration with Open Social and a list of questions to ask yourself whether you really need to import users or content, and what you need if you do want to migrate.

What is the benefit of content migration?

If you have decided to use a new platform, you may be faced with the question of whether or not you need to migrate users/content.

You might be considering migrating because you’re transitioning from an existing platform to a new community platform (or any old software database to a new one).

But before you decide to migrate existing users and/or content, it’s best to list the benefits of this migration for your new platform.

Ask yourself, what does my new platform or community achieve with the old content or list of users?

Some advantages of migration include:

  • Data usability that allows you to compare new data with old data.
  • Provide continuity between the old and new platform, including the seamless transition of users.
  • Make it easier to train members with old data on the new platform.
  • Keep your current list of users, instead of collecting new ones.
  • Keep the connection between comments/content and users.

Some disadvantages of migration include:

  • Migration can be quite costly, also with Open Social. These are complex and technical processes.
  • Migration can cost a lot of time – not only the implementation but to also adapt the platform to the data afterward.
  • Extensive project management and training to implement and guide members through the content on the platform.
  • Inherit poor data quality – if you were struggling with data beforehand, then you’ll import the same headaches into your new platform.

It’s also good practice to not only list the advantages/disadvantages for yourself and your team but also for the end users who are using the platform.

Is content migration really necessary?

After listing the advantages and the disadvantages of migrating, you need to decide if migrating users and/or content is really necessary. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

In order to help answer this question, here are two more questions to consider:

Does the amount of content make it worth it?
This question is also best answered when looking at the amount of data you’d like to migrate. At Open Social, we usually consider 100 blocks of content to still be appropriate for manual migration, rather than using an API.

Does your migration have to be customized?
Although it’s possible to conduct customized migration in Open Social (and other platforms), the whole process becomes a lot more complicated when you need to target specific data rather than migrate everything. This will dramatically increase both time and cost spent on migration.

You’ve decided to migrate. Now what?

If you have decided to migrate data to your new community platform, then there are three important points that will determine the cost and the process of the migration.

Firstly, what is your legacy system?
Different platforms will result in different migration processes. Are you coming from an existing community platform? Is your data in a data set? Did you work in a CRM? It’s best to have this information prepared.

Secondly, how much data and what kind of data do you need to migrate?
You need to know the amount of data you want to migrate and whether the data consists of user, content, or users and content.

Thirdly, is it a full migration or partial migration?
As mentioned above, it’s also possible to specify which data or users you want to import. If that’s the case, make sure you’re clear about this up front and have a list of the data ready.

Fourthly, are you planning on keeping your old platform?
It’s possible to keep your old platform and the new platform running. In fact, we set up an integration between two platforms so that content could be generated on one and shared on the other. Find the example below!

Content migration with Open Social

If you decide you need migration, Open Social does support importing users and content from external applications and existing platforms.

We’ve had, among others, two successful migrations from old platforms to Open Social.

User and content import

We built a platform called GlobalDevHub for the UN. It replaces a legacy platform and facilitates e-Discussions on key issues on sustainable development.

GlobalDevHub platform for content migration


We successfully migrated content and users from one platform to the other using CSV files. We also built our own module for this migration with some help from the Drupal community.

There were thousands of pieces of content to migrate so we did it from the console using Drush (command line tool) and Drupal Queue API. After the migration, we sent emails to the users asking them to complete their profile and update their password on the new platform.

WordPress integration

We’re currently building a platform for a UNDP initiative called the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC). It’s a multi-stakeholder platform that aims to contribute and advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

This project decided to keep the old platform as well. Therefore, we first migrated the content from WordPress to Open Social (topics and events, for example) using CSV files. Then, we built an integration between the two platforms using an API in order to create a linkage between the two platforms.

This way, you don’t need to maintain content in two places. The community using Open social generates the content, which is then pushed to the original WordPress platform.

Please contact for further information about migrating your data to Open Social.

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