In the digital age, creating and maintaining an engaged online community is more important than ever for businesses and content creators. The right platform can help you build a loyal following and foster meaningful connections between your audience members. But with so many options available, how do you know which one is right for you?
In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of the best online community platforms available today. We’ll discuss the features and benefits of each platform, as well as which ones are best suited for different types of businesses and creators. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to switch to a new platform, this guide will help you navigate the crowded field of online community options. So, read on to find the best platform for your needs and start building your community today!
🤔 What Are Online Community Platforms?
Online community platforms are digital tools that facilitate the creation and management of virtual communities. These platforms offer a range of features designed to encourage interaction, collaboration, and engagement between community members. Whether it is a discussion forum, social media group, or chat room, these online communities provide a space for people to connect, share their experiences, and learn from each other.
They make it easy for members to ask questions, provide answers, exchange ideas, and develop relationships. By using community forum software, you can build and grow a community that is tailored to your specific needs and interests. With the right community platform, you can create an online community that is engaging, supportive, and inspiring.
💡 Why Are Online Community Platforms Important?
Online community platforms are becoming increasingly important because they allow people to connect and engage with others who share similar interests or goals.
These platforms provide a space where individuals can discuss ideas, share information, collaborate on projects, and build relationships with others from around the world. The ability to connect with like-minded individuals fosters a sense of community and belonging, which is essential for our well-being. Creating and managing an online community from scratch can be a daunting task, but fortunately, there are many existing platforms available today that can be leveraged.
These platforms are designed to be user-friendly and provide all the tools needed to create and maintain a thriving online community. With the growing emphasis on social connection, online community platforms have become an important tool for individuals and businesses alike to connect with their audience and grow their brands.
☑️ Best Online Community Platforms
Skool, a recently launched course platform with a community-first approach, offers an easy-to-use platform for developing and presenting your courses. This makes it a simplified version of the more advanced platforms you may already know about. For this reason, it does not have all the features most platforms have, though they can still help creators build and present their courses to audiences.
The platform operates on a community-first model with gamification and other tools to promote engagement and retention. You can create a group, and it will be presented alongside Skool’s own community, where you can get support and help from other Skool subscribers.
Through using Skool, creators of all kinds can develop a community and take courses to increase their skill set. Whether you’re a blogger, online video creator, consultant, or simply want to quiet your online community, Skool has the tools and resources to assist you in this endeavor.
Here are some ways in which people use Skool:
- Online courses: Skool allows creators to host their online courses within a community-oriented platform. This enables students to interact and collaborate while taking the courses.
- Group funnels: Users can utilize Skool to build interactive funnels that engage and convert their audience into community members and customers. It provides a centralized space for audience engagement and conversion activities.
- Masterminds: Skool offers features to support group synchronization, including community forums, group calls, events, recordings, direct messages (DMs), and broadcasts. This helps facilitate communication and collaboration among members of a mastermind group.
- SaaS/Product development: Skool allows creators to gather feedback from users and receive suggestions for product development. It provides a platform to announce new features and receive immediate feedback from the community.
- Subscription memberships: Creators can build a community and monetize it by offering subscription-based memberships. Skool provides the infrastructure for charging monthly or annual fees, similar to a country club membership model.
- Coaching programs: Skool can be used to enhance the coaching experience by centralizing resources, communication, and support within a dedicated community. It helps improve the overall experience for clients.
- Support forums: Skool enables businesses to establish support forums where customers can help each other. Over time, this organic collaboration can generate a searchable help documentation repository.
- Influencer/fan communities: Skool provides a space for influencers and their fans to connect and interact. It deepens the relationship between influencers and their audience while also serving as a source of inspiration and feedback.
At Skool, there are no pricing tiers or plans to choose from, which sets it apart from other platforms. You only have to pay a single monthly fee of $99 to gain access to everything the platform has to offer.
For a monthly fee, you gain access to 1 group with no restrictions on the number of courses and members that can be added. If you decide to create additional groups, the cost would be $99 per month for each new group you wish to establish.
The benefits of Skool include the ability to become an affiliate, which results in a 40% commission on all monthly subscription fees for every month the referred member remains in the program.
✔️ Pros of Skool
- Video integrations: Skool supports video integrations, which allows creators to incorporate videos into their courses or community content.
- Zapier integration: Skool integrates with Zapier, a platform that enables automated workflows and connections between different apps and services. This integration can enhance the functionality and connectivity of Skool with other tools and systems.
- Invite via webhooks: Skool offers the ability to invite members to join the platform through webhooks. This feature can streamline the invitation process and facilitate the onboarding of new members.
- Unlimited member invitations: Skool allows creators to invite an unlimited number of members to their community. This ensures scalability and flexibility in growing the community without restrictions.
- Gamification: Skool incorporates gamification elements, which can enhance user engagement and enjoyment. Gamification mechanics such as points, badges, leaderboards, or rewards can incentivize participation and promote a sense of accomplishment.
- Access to Skool courses: Skool courses are available to anyone within the community. This means that members can benefit from the educational content shared by creators and expand their knowledge and skills.
- Free trial available: Skool offers a free trial, allowing potential users to explore and evaluate the platform before committing to a subscription. This enables individuals to assess if Skool meets their needs and requirements.
- Assistance and support: Skool provides ample assistance and support to its users. This ensures that creators have access to the necessary resources and guidance to maximize their experience and success on the platform.
❌ Cons of Skool
- Charging for courses is prohibited: It seems that Skool does not allow creators to directly charge for their courses on the platform. This limitation may restrict the monetization options for course creators who rely on course fees as a revenue stream.
- No built-in checkout feature: Skool lacks a built-in checkout feature, which means that creators may need to find alternative methods or external tools to handle payments and transactions associated with their courses or other offerings.
- Native video hosting is unavailable: Skool does not provide native video hosting capabilities. This means that creators would need to rely on external video hosting platforms or services to host their course videos, which can add complexity and potentially incur additional costs.
Circle is a unique and focused platform that is specifically designed to help brands build and manage online communities. As such, it provides a range of useful features that allow for easy community design and engagement.
Although it doesn’t offer an online course feature like Mighty Networks, it does provide robust and powerful tools for discussion creation, content organization, and community moderation. With member connections, private messaging, and group chats, Circle offers an interactive experience that encourages strong connections and collaboration among community members.
Furthermore, the ability to create private Spaces within a community ensures that conversations and discussions remain secure and accessible only to the intended audience. Whether you’re looking to create a community for your business, brand, or personal use, Circle can be a highly valuable platform to meet your needs.
Circle offers a valuable feature that sets it apart from other community platforms: the ability to embed a widget, a specific space, or even the entire community on your main website. This feature not only adds a social element to your website but also helps to build a sense of community among your audience. By embedding a Circle widget, you can give your users easy access to your community and encourage them to engage with the content that you host there.
Also, Circle is a modern and visually appealing platform that excels in providing a seamless user experience for its members. The clean and intuitive design of its user interface makes it easy for members to browse through discussions and find everything they need within the community. The iOS app further adds to its accessibility, allowing iPhone users to stay connected even when they’re on the move. However, Android users will have to wait a bit more for a mobile app.
Adding to its appeal for businesses, Circle also comes with a monetization feature that facilitates payments and subscriptions for accessing your community. This can be an excellent way to generate revenue while building a loyal customer base. Overall, Circle is a great option for anyone looking to build their online community with a focus on user experience and monetization.
As online learning and membership platforms continue to rise in popularity, Circle has emerged as a leader in providing direct integration with these platforms. With direct integration with Teachable and Thinkific, Circle makes it easy for users to seamlessly access their content and communities all in one place. Additionally, Circle supports integration with popular membership platforms like Memberful and MemberSpace, enabling users to easily manage their subscriptions and access to content. What’s more, Circle even supports custom Single Sign On (SSO) integrations, allowing users to log in to Circle with their existing credentials from any platform. With its robust integration capabilities and user-friendly interface, Circle is the ideal platform for users looking to bring their online communities and memberships to the next level.
Circle offers a range of pricing plans to suit the needs of different communities, whether big or small. The Basic plan, at just $39/month (+4% transaction fee), is the perfect choice for those with up to 1,000 active members.
For those with bigger communities, the Professional plan ($99/month + 1% transaction fee) or the Enterprise plan ($399/month + 0.5% transaction fee) offer support for up to 10,000 and 100,000 members respectively. Whether you’re running a small operation or a large-scale community, Circle’s pricing plans make it easy and affordable to create and manage a vibrant online community. So, check out Circle today to see which plan fits your needs and start building your community!
✔️ Pros of Circle
Circle is an excellent platform that offers a variety of benefits. The software boasts a clean, modern design that is pleasing to the eye and user-friendly. Its powerful community features foster interaction and collaboration among members.
Additionally, Circle provides the ability to embed widgets on external sites, making it a flexible option for businesses to incorporate into their own websites. The platform also offers a native iOS app for users, improving accessibility and convenience for those on the go. Finally, Circle supports single sign-on (SSO) integrations, making it easy for users to log in and adding an extra level of security for businesses.
Overall, Circle is a robust and versatile platform that provides a wealth of features and is an excellent choice for individuals and organizations alike.
❌ Cons of Circle
Like any software, Circle has its drawbacks. One of the most significant cons of Circle is that it does not have an Android app, which limits the platform’s accessibility for Android users who may want to participate in online communities. In addition to this, Circle charges a transaction fee for payments made through the platform, which may make it a less cost-effective option for some businesses or organizations. Overall, Circle offers many benefits for online community management, its lack of an Android app and transaction fees may be important factors for some users to consider when choosing a forum platform.
Mighty Networks is the perfect hosted community platform for creators who want to build an online community on their own website. With its robust set of features, Mighty Networks can help creators build strong and engaged communities with ease.
The platform allows you to create regular posts, polls, quizzes, and articles, which keeps your members engaged and gives them a reason to keep coming back.
Additionally, with the event management feature, you can create a one-time or a recurring event, making it easy to connect with your members in person or virtually. And, if you want to connect with your community in real-time, the native live streaming feature is sure to come in handy. Overall, Mighty Networks is a fantastic platform for building a thriving online community.
When it comes to Mighty Networks pricing, it’s all about finding the perfect fit for your needs. The entry-level Community plan comes in at $39/month plus a 3% transaction fee, and it includes all of the core community-building tools you’ll need to get started. But, if you need a little more oomph, the Business plan might be more your speed. At $119/month plus a 2% transaction fee, this plan delivers all of the functionality of the Community plan, alongside the ability to integrate with Zapier, premium analytics, and online course creation capabilities. Whatever your needs may be, Mighty Networks has a pricing plan to match.
✔️ Pros of Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks offers a host of powerful features that make it a great platform for building online communities. One of the major pros of the platform is its powerful community features, which enable users to create vibrant and engaging communities around specific topics or interests. These features include things like forums, member directory, and group discussions, as well as robust moderation and spam filtering tools.
Another key advantage of Mighty Networks is its native live streaming capabilities. This feature allows creators to broadcast live video to their community, fostering a more engaging and interactive experience for members. In addition, Mighty Networks also allows users to create and sell online courses through the platform, giving creators even more ways to monetize their content.
Available as free iOS and Android apps, Mighty Networks makes it easy for members to access their communities from anywhere, at any time. And for creators looking to monetize their content, the platform offers a range of inbuilt monetization tools, including subscription plans, paid groups, and member tiers, making it easy to earn revenue from their communities. Overall, Mighty Networks is a powerful platform that offers an impressive array of features and tools to help creators build and monetize successful online communities.
❌ Cons of Mighty Networks
While Mighty Networks is a versatile platform for building communities and delivering online courses, it does have its drawbacks. One issue is that it does not support single sign-on (SSO) integrations, which can be a deal-breaker for businesses that value security and convenience. SSO allows users to access multiple applications without the need for separate logins, so its absence in Mighty Networks can make using the platform more cumbersome.
Additionally, Mighty Networks charges a transaction fee for handling payments, which can add up for businesses that use the platform for selling courses or products. Despite these cons, Mighty Networks remains a popular choice for building online communities and delivering engaging content.
Tribe is a powerful community-building platform that has made a name for itself in the market by providing some of the best-in-class features for its users. Unlike some other community builders, Tribe doesn’t offer tools for course creation or monetization. Instead, it focuses solely on creating a seamless and engaging community-building experience. With top brands like Decathlon, ASUS, Pipedrive, and ConvertKit using the platform, it’s clear that Tribe has made a big impact in the market.
One of the key benefits of using Tribe is the ability to create a fully white-label experience. This means you can customize everything from the logo and widgets to the colors and domain, making it easy to create a truly unique and personalized community-building experience. Plus, with advanced features like moderated content, custom notifications, and robust analytics, Tribe makes it easy to engage with your community and build lasting relationships with your customers.
With its wide range of features, users have the ability to write articles, post images and videos, ask questions, and submit answers all in one convenient location. One of the standout features is the ability to categorize content, making it easy to organize and find specific pieces of content at a later time.
Additionally, Tribe offers an intuitive and personalized activity feed that makes discovering new content seamlessly. Whether you are a business looking to engage with customers or an individual looking to share your ideas and interests with the world, Tribe offers a multitude of options to create, share, and discover content that is uniquely yours.
Also, it is a game-changer when it comes to building and sustaining an engaging community. One of the standout features of Tribe is its support for native gamification, which includes features such as badges, points, virtual currency, and a leaderboard system. These features not only make the community more lively and fun for users, but they also help drive engagement and promote user activity.
But the great news doesn’t stop there. Tribe also has a library of apps and integrations that can easily extend the functionality of your community. Take the SSO app, for example. With this integration, users can easily access their accounts across multiple platforms, including WordPress, using their existing credentials.
If you’re looking for a community platform that won’t break the bank, Tribe’s Free plan may be just what you’re looking for. With access to all the essential features, including a custom domain, it’s a great option for smaller communities with up to 100 members.
But if you’re looking to grow your community, you’ll want to consider upgrading to one of Tribe’s paid plans. The Plus plan, priced at $99/month, allows up to 2,500 members, while the Premium plan, priced at $399/month, opens the door to communities with up to 25,000 members. No matter which plan you choose, Tribe offers a powerful set of tools and features designed to help you create and grow vibrant online communities.
✔️ Pros of Tribe
Tribe is an excellent platform for businesses looking to enhance their online communities. One of the key advantages of Tribe is its flexibility – the platform can be fully customized and extended to fit the unique needs of any business. Additionally, native gamification tools are included to encourage engagement and create a sense of fun within the community.
Perhaps one of the most significant advantages of Tribe is its single sign-on functionality, which allows users to easily access the platform using their existing login credentials. Overall, Tribe is a great choice for any business looking to build a strong and engaged online community.
❌ Cons of Tribe
While the Tribe platform has its benefits, such as its easy-to-use interface and community-building features, there are some notable cons to keep in mind. One such con is the lack of mobile app functionality, which can be a dealbreaker for many users who prefer to access community platforms on their phones or tablets.
Another drawback is the absence of inbuilt monetization tools, which can make it difficult for creators or businesses to monetize their content or generate revenue from their Tribe community. While there are workarounds for these issues, such as building a custom app or leveraging third-party monetization tools, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of Tribe before making a decision to use it as your primary community platform.
Disciple is a godsend for anyone looking to create a fully customized and branded community that they have complete control over. Unlike some other platforms, Disciple is quick and easy to set up, so you can get your community up and running in no time.
Once you’re up and running, you’ll find that the platform’s functionality works seamlessly right out of the box. With Disciple, you’ll have the freedom to post and schedule all types of content, create sub-groups, moderate your community, and keep track of all the important metrics that matter to you.
Disciple’s native live stream functionality is just one of the many features that make it a great platform for engagement. With this feature, you don’t have to resort to Zoom or another third-party solution in order to go live in your community. This makes it much easier to connect with your members and build a sense of community within your group. In addition, Disciple’s platform is accessible both through the web and mobile devices.
You can even get branded iOS/Android mobile apps to make it even easier for your members to access your community. With engagement at the forefront, Disciple also has a personalized community feed for each member, so they can stay up-to-date with the latest discussions and connect with other members. All in all, Disciple’s features provide a seamless and personalized experience for your community.
When it comes to choosing a platform for building a community, pricing is always a significant consideration. Disciple’s pricing plans are fairly straightforward, with two options available to choose from. The lower tier is the Web plan, priced at $55 per month, while the Mobile App plan starts from $549 per month, paid quarterly.
However, it’s essential to bear in mind that the Web plan limits membership to just 100 users, and the costs increase dramatically for larger communities. For example, if you have more than 10,000 community members, expect to pay at least $2,000 per month. While Disciple may be one of the more expensive options out there, its strong features and customization options make it a worthwhile investment for those in need of a robust community-building platform.
✔️ Pros of Disciple
Disciple is a top-of-the-line community builder that offers a wide range of features and benefits for businesses and organizations looking to build an engaged and loyal following.
One of its key advantages is its feature-rich platform, which includes everything from customizable forums and messaging systems to user profiles and content-sharing tools.
In addition, Disciple also offers native live-streaming functionality, making it easy to connect with your audience in real time.
Another great feature of Disciple is its branded iOS and Android apps, which allow you to customize your community’s look and feel to match your brand.
Finally, Disciple also includes a range of inbuilt monetization tools, such as paywalls and subscriptions, that allow you to generate revenue from your community. Overall, Disciple is a powerful and versatile community builder that provides everything you need to create a thriving online community.
❌ Cons of Disciple
Disciple is a platform that offers excellent tools for creating and managing online communities. However, there are some cons to using this platform that should be considered before making a decision. First of all, Disciple is one of the more expensive options on the market, which may make it difficult for some individuals or small businesses to justify the cost.
Additionally, the platform charges a transaction fee for any payments made through their system, which can add up over time.
While these may be significant drawbacks for some, it’s important to note that Disciple also offers many useful features that may make it worth the investment for larger organizations or those with robust online communities. Ultimately, the decision to use Disciple should be based on careful consideration of the platform’s pros and cons as they relate to your specific needs and circumstances.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive platform to manage your organization’s alumni networks or professional groups, Hivebrite is the perfect solution. Built specifically for community management, Hivebrite offers a wide range of features designed to make creating, updating, and moderating content a breeze.
From hosting events to selling tickets and sending notifications via email and push notifications, the platform includes everything you need to effectively manage your community.
You can even create smaller groups within your network and offer mobile access for members. Overall, Hivebrite is an invaluable tool for organizations looking to build and maintain an engaged community.
Hivebrite offers a comprehensive suite of monetization tools for creators, including the ability to create membership tiers, charge subscription fees, and accept donations. With these essential features at your disposal, you can easily turn your passion into a profitable business. But that’s not all that Hivebrite has to offer.
This platform is particularly well-suited for professional networks thanks to its unique features. For instance, Hivebrite allows you to create a job board where people can post job openings, and interested users can upload their resumes and be contacted by others. This is a fantastic way to bring together employers and job-seekers within your community and establish yourself as a valuable resource. With Hivebrite, the possibilities for monetization and professional networking are virtually limitless.
The platform’s pricing starts from around $500 per month, making it a cost-effective choice for organizations of all sizes. With its flexible pricing model and a range of customizable options, Hivebrite offers a tailored solution that fits the unique needs of every organization. Whether you’re looking to create a thriving online community for alumni, business partners, or team members, Hivebrite has everything you need to get started.
✔️ Pros of Hivebrite
Hivebrite is an impressive platform that offers powerful community management tools, job board functionality, inbuilt monetization tools, and branded mobile apps. These features make it an ideal choice for organizations and communities looking to establish an online presence and engage with their members in a meaningful way.
The powerful community management tools offered by Hivebrite make it easy to create and manage member groups, forums, and events. This provides a great platform for members to connect, share ideas, and engage with each other, making it easy for organizations and communities to build strong and lasting relationships with their members.
Moreover, the job board functionality is a great addition to this platform since it allows organizations to post job openings and enables members to conveniently apply for positions. Additionally, the inbuilt monetization tools make it simple to create and manage a subscription-based platform.
The branded mobile apps offered by Hivebrite provide organizations with a seamless and professional-looking experience that is essential for interacting and connecting with members while on the go. Overall, Hivebrite can help organizations significantly increase their engagement with members, build brand loyalty, and streamline their community management processes.
❌ Cons of Hivebrite
When it comes to Hivebrite, there are a few cons to consider. Firstly, Hivebrite is designed for professional networks, so if you are looking for a more casual or social network platform, this may not be the best fit for you.
Additionally, the pricing plans for Hivebrite can be quite expensive, so it may not be the most budget-friendly option for smaller organizations or businesses. However, if you are looking for a professional network platform that offers robust features and customization options, then Hivebrite may be worth the investment.
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✍️ Final Words
Creating an online community platform is a great way to bring people together and foster meaningful connections. With the right platform, you can easily engage with your customers, build relationships, and grow your business. The platforms discussed in this blog are some of the best available today, each with its own unique features and benefits.
No matter what type of business or creator you are, there is sure to be a platform that fits your needs. So take the time to explore each option and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you have any questions. With the right online community platform, you can take your business or brand to new heights!