Read, review and compare the top Online Community Platforms Software available in the market for your requirements:
The Covid-19 outbreak of 2020 changed a lot of things, with the most fundamental of these changes being a new outlook on remote work. Many employees that were stuck at home didn’t find any negative effect on their productivity, thanks to the internet. Most of them ended up creating online communities to share their work and ideas.
Yes! Online communities are incredibly hot right now, especially in business circles. More and more enterprises today are finally understanding how imperative online community platforms can be to reach new prospects, gather valuable feedback, improve customer loyalty and provide better support to their existing customers.
In order to conjure these communities, however, you will need community platform software. That being said, it isn’t exactly easy to make the right choice when you have so many options at your disposal.
What You Will Learn:
- Online Community Platforms Software
- Frequently Asked Questions
- List of the Best Online Community Platforms
Online Community Platforms Software
This is where expert insight into the subject matter comes into play. Having built several thriving communities online, we know a thing or two about what makes a great online community platform.
So in this article, we will be recommending such platforms that we believe are some of the best online community platforms out there.
Market Trends: A 2012 study called The Social Mind, mentioned on the Business2Community website, claims that almost 78% of individuals join online communities to share their ideas and experiences. 66% of the respondents also stated that they participated in an online community to be close to their peers and colleagues.
- First and foremost, you need to make sure that the online community platform you choose is customizable.
- It should be easy to use and must harbor a modern UI design.
- It should feature impeccable gamification and moderation capabilities.
- It should scale easily to keep up with the member growth of your online community
- Finally, make sure the price attached to such community software is affordable.
Benefits of Using Community Platform Software
Community platform software has changed how businesses engage with their customers. They’ve only proved to be invaluable in their offerings in a post-pandemic world. No software can be deemed great if it does not deliver a plethora of relevant benefits.
Thankfully, community platform software today is wildly popular because of the broad range of benefits they offer. The benefits are as follows:
- Establish a more intimate connection between different people online.
- Can help businesses deliver an exceptional customer experience in a bid to outshine competitors.
- Help generate promising leads for one’s business.
- Can be used to generate ideas and gather feedback.
- Online community platforms can significantly decrease costs associated with customer support.
- Boost revenue growth by opening new, more cost-effective venues for sales and marketing.
- Help businesses scale with an expanding customer base.
Key Use Cases of Community Platforms
Community Platforms have broad-ranging applications. Most businesses and individual entities can rely on community platforms to accomplish the following:
- Indulge in ideation exercises.
- Deliver self-help, peer, and expert advice.
- Check customer satisfaction levels.
- Help with private social networking.
- Identify influential advocates among customers.
- Boost both customer and employee engagement.
- Generate, publish, and test new content.
- Update the community on a topic of mutual interest.
- Share the latest news on topics of mutual interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q #1) What is a Community Platform?
Answer: A community platform is a safe space online for people to congregate and share their ideas and experiences with each other. Although such communities were created initially for non-commercial purposes, today they’ve found immense popularity among business circles.
Businesses today use such platforms to interact with customers in a bid to improve support and enhance customer loyalty.
Q #2) What is the best platform for a community?
Answer: There is no shortage of good community platforms out there. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of bad ones either. So it is important to do your due diligence before paying a heavy subscription fee for any online community platform-building software.
However, the following are a few of the best community platforms:
- Mighty Networks
- Vanilla Forums
Q #3) What is Online Community Engagement?
Answer: Online community engagement could refer to the practice which involves different stakeholders with similar concerns coming together to solve a problem. This includes people. Organizations, governments, and other parties collaborate with each other to make important decisions to sustain a prosperous future for their community.
Q #4) What are the benefits of an Online Community for Businesses?
Answer: There are various benefits to having an online community. The most prominent of these are listed below:
- Create fruitful connections
- Get crowdsourcing support to reduce operational costs
- Gather feedback to improve product or service quality
- Improve customer loyalty
- Provide a better customer experience and edge out the competition
Q #5) How can I grow my online community?
Answer: There are many ways by which one can grow their online community. Some great ways to do so are given below:
- Leverage social media channels to promote your community.
- Interact with new members regularly and make them feel at home.
- Select community managers who are charismatic and gregarious.
- Adopt a uniform community culture.
- Create content that attracts new community members.
Q #6) How do I choose a Community Platform?
Answer: Choosing a community platform that will best serve you can be rather challenging. However, there are a few tips you can consider to make sure you are ultimately settling for a platform that delivers value for every buck you spent on it.
First and foremost, it is important to choose a community platform with considerable goodwill in the industry. Simply put, go for a community platform with a sizeable base of satisfied users to boast about. You can gauge a community platform’s overall appeal by referring to past client testimonials and verified Google reviews.
We would also recommend going with a tool that is highly customizable and as such, capable of fulfilling your specific needs and requirements. Take a look at all the features being offered. Finally, make sure the tool is reasonably priced. It makes no sense to pay above and beyond your budget for an online community platform.
Q #7) What is the difference between Community Platforms and Membership Platforms?
Answer: Community Platforms and Membership Platforms are sometimes used interchangeably. There is one major difference between them that significantly distinguishes one from the other.
A typical community platform, for instance, serves as a virtual space where people with shared interests and goals can come together to communicate and build relationships.
A membership platform, on the other hand, asks you to pay a certain subscription fee to become a member of a particular online group. Membership platforms are also a type of online community.
Q #8) Why are Online Community Platforms Important?
Answer: Online community platforms today present businesses with an opportunity to connect with their audiences on a very intimate level. Online communities foster an environment where a real connection can be established between multiple people.
Online communities are especially instrumental for artists who wish for a way to connect with their fans safely. It is a platform that can be used by businesses to encourage customer loyalty, boost company goodwill, drive revenue, and so much more. Online communities can also be used to rally support behind a cause.
List of the Best Online Community Platforms
Popular and best online community platforms software list:
- Mighty Networks
- Vanilla Forums
Comparing Some of the Top Community Software
|Name||Best for||Free Trial||Price|
|Podia||Product/Service Marketing and Sales||14 days||Starting at $33/month|
|SocialGlow||Online Community Building and Course creation.||30 days||Starts at $49.95/month|
|Mighty Networks||Building Personalized online communities||14 days||Starting at $33/month|
|Panion||Discover People nearby who share your interests||NA||Starting at $35/month|
|eXo||User-centered digital workplace software||NA||Starting at $4/user/month|
|Vanilla Forums||Highly customizable community builder||NA||Contact for quote|
Best for product/service marketing and sales.
With Podia, you get an all-in-one community platform that allows you to run a community life in the same place where you are selling your digital products. Give your members one login detail, which can be used by them to access both the community you’ve created and the content you are exhibiting.
Podia grants you a number of intuitive tools to help you create content that is engaging. The platform’s security features are admirable. You get full visibility over your community. You can tweak access to members based on their subscription plans, individual members, and content.
- Email Marketing
- Website Builder
- Secure Payment Processing
- Easy content generation
- Manage member access
- Get full access to member information
- Helps you create organized and engaging content
- Easy to use, modern UI design
- Migration to Podia is free
- The email build lacks personalization features.
Verdict: If you want to create a loyal customer base for the digital products and services you are trying to sell, then Podia is tailor-made for you. It is very easy to use, possesses a sleek UI, and lets you migrate an existing online community from elsewhere onto the platform without charging you extra.
- Mover: $33/month
- Shaker: $75/month
- Earthquaker: $166/month.
- 14-day free trial
Best for Online Community Building and Course creation.
SocialGlow provides you with all the tools you need to build a thriving community or create courses online. It just takes a few minutes to set-up a community on this platform and you can use it to immediately host all types of content. You can invite more participants or clients by sending a link through social media and emails.
You are also provided with a ton of gamification tools that could help you incite engagement. For instance, you can trigger competitions between members of your community by setting up a leaderboard. SocialGlow is a platform that works as a web as well as mobile application. You can use the tool to plan and schedule your events on both the above mentioned mediums.
- Automate Events, Groups, and Content
- Store, share, and manage videos
- Reach members via SMS, email, and push notifications
- Gamify communities and courses
- 30-day free trial
- Powerful community building tools
- 24/7 Support
- Accommodates unlimited groups
Some users may find the subscription plans expensive
Verdict: With SocialGlow, you get a platform that lets you build an online community and host courses… all in one place. You are provided with all the tools and assistance necessary to ensure your community members are engaged and your content is getting the traction it deserves.
- Basic: $49.95/month
- Plus: $99.95/month
- Premium: $299.95/month
#3) Mighty Networks
Best for building personalized online community forums and superior migration capabilities.
Might Networks kickstart the list because of how easy it is to create a personalized online community with the tools on offer here.
The platform accommodates unlimited hosts, members, and moderators, regardless of what plans you subscribe to. Moreover, the activity feed for each of your members can be greatly customized to deliver a unique experience to each one of them.
Mighty Networks is especially ideal for coaching institutes, thanks to the native course-building feature provided. The course builder allows you to teach courses to live, add a course community, and charge for your services in hundreds of different global currencies.
The platform also facilitates live human interaction with features like live streaming and group chat events.
- Native Course Builder
- Events and Zoom Integration
- Live Video Streaming
- Chat and Messaging
- Branded App Notifications
- Analytics and Member Data
- In-built monetization
- Free app for iOS and Android
- Seamless integration with tools like Zoom
- Easily create and sell online courses
- SSO integrations not available
Verdict: Easy to create, amazing personalization capabilities, and intuitive in-built monetization capabilities make Mighty Networks a great online community platform to start building an audience base for your business.
- Community Plan: $33 per month
- Business Plan: $99 per month
- Custom Might Pro Plan is also available
- A 14-day free trial is available
Website: Might Networks
Best for discovering people nearby who share your interests.
Panion is a one-of-a-kind keyword searchable community builder that allows you to find people near you who share interests similar to yours. The platform arms you with tools that help you build and design a safe for your brand or company.
After building and becoming a member of that community, you can participate in discussions with other members, chat live, share content and do so much more. You also have the privilege of monetizing your community by charging membership fees and selling online courses or tickets to events.
- Member-driven Networking
- Integrated Event Management
- Internet-Based Filtering
- Segmenting Discussion Groups
- Community Migration Support
- Helps you create virtual and in-person events.
- It’s very easy to monetize your online community.
- Allows you to filter through the community to find members by gender, age, language, interest, etc.
- Excellent mobile app.
- No dedicated account manager for support on Starter and Growth plans.
Verdict: Panion makes it to my list primarily because of the monetization capabilities it grants users. You can charge membership fees or even sell online courses here. Finding and sending invites to people and persuading them to join the community is also made incredibly simple.
In addition, some helpful pre-integrated features that facilitate event management make this platform as one of the best we have today.
- Starter Plan: $35/month
- Growth Plan: $70/month
- Custom Scaling Plan is also available
Best for user-centered digital workplace software.
The first thing that drew me to eXo is the platform’s user-centric nature. This is an online community builder that lays down all essential tools related to a digital workplace in front of employees.
It is considerably easier to create, publish and manage content using this platform. The platform allows enterprises to curate content directly from their employee communities.
The platform also enables hassle-free customer engagement with tools that facilitate easy like, commenting, and sharing capabilities. You also get intuitive analytics to assess the performance of your digital workplace in real-time.
Another thing that makes eXo shine is the chat and video conferencing feature it comes integrated with, thus facilitating seamless communication between employees.
- Content Management
- Custom Branding of Online Community
- Insightful Analytics
- Create a knowledge base for the secure storage of content
- Employee Recognition and rewards
- Elegant UI
- Amazing chat and video conferencing feature
- Microsoft Integration
- Configuring the platform can be tricky
Verdict: eXo won me over with its stunning UI design, exceptional chat, and video conferencing capabilities. You’ll find content management to be a highlight for this community builder. This is an ideal community builder for organizations that want to create a fun digital environment that facilitates hassle-free employee interaction.
- Enterprise: $4/user/month
- Enterprise S: $5/User/month
- Custom Ultimate Plan available
#6) Vanilla Forums
Best for highly customizable online community builders.
Vanilla Forums is an easy-to-setup online community builder with amazing moderation, gamification, and ideation capabilities. With the platform, you get an advanced editor that recognizes HTML, Markdown, and BBCode. Videos, images, and other forms of content can easily be embedded to build a forum that enhances the member experience.
Its gamification and reputation system is also something to adore. You are granted a reputation engine that can promote good content, automate moderation and bequeath members with the ability to thrive in the community.
You also have the ability to completely transform the look of your website with the freedom to add your own CSS, upload favicon, modify URL, and much more.
- Single Sign-On Integration
- Gamification and Reputation System
- Customizable Themes
- Create Knowledge Base
- Advanced Forum Builder
- Easy to use
- Highly customizable
- Excellent customer support
- Amazing gamification capabilities
- The search feature needs more work
Verdict: Vanilla Forums shines with its robust gaming and moderation capabilities. This allows you to ignite a perpetual state of excitement among members within the created community. It also helps that the platform is easy to use and considerably customizable.
Price: There are three pricing plans. There is an Essential plan, which is ideal for smaller communities. Then there are the Corporate and Enterprise plans that are ideal for scaling and larger communities. Contact the Vanilla Forums team to get an accurate quote.
Website: Vanilla Forums
Best for advanced moderation tools for expert community management.
Khoros arms you with advanced tools that make it easier to create a secure space online for your customers to interact with each other and your team. The space created can serve as a productive self-service portal that offers instant customer support to those who seek it.
The platform also facilitates expert community management, thanks to advanced moderation tools, real-time analytics, and content management features. The platform can help you engage with your audience in a more productive and efficient manner.
The platform also integrates seamlessly with tools like Zoom and Slack to enable hassle-free chat and video conferencing abilities.
- Content Management
- Knowledge Base
- Enhanced Moderation Tools
- Real-time Analytics
- Native Mobile Support
- Easy to use REST API
- Fully customizable
- Support multiple languages
- The admin console UI feels outdated.
Verdict: Khoros is a community builder made to cater to the needs of large enterprises. Big businesses will have the tools they need to easily create a digital workspace that allows them to connect with their customers, employees, and peers in a bid to share ideas or simply interact.
Price: Contact for a custom quote
Best for online community builders for brands and creators.
With Circle, you get an all-in-one community builder that caters to the needs of individual creators and small brands. You get the tools to create a community that seamlessly integrates with your content. It is very easy to create private and secure spaces wherein ideas can be shared, group discussions can be spearheaded, and live feedback can be gathered.
We especially like the ability Circle grants to add rich formatting to your content along with embedding media emojis, images, etc. to enhance its quality. The platform also integrates seamlessly with many third-party tools.
Circle is highly customizable, and as such, you can add your own brand color, image, logo, etc. to the community you build for complete personalization.
- Group Chat Rooms
- Manage roles and permissions
- Facilitate organized discussions
- Advanced Analytics
- Fully customizable
- Great monetization capabilities
- Integration with multiple tools
- Embed widgets on external sites
- Applications are only available for iOS devices.
Verdict: Circle is great for its personalization features and monetization capabilities. Where it truly shines, however, is in the integration department. The platform integrates seamlessly with several relevant third-party apps to help brands and creators create, manage, and monetize an online community in a considerably more efficient fashion.
- Basic: $39/month
- Professional: $99/month
- Enterprise: $399/month
- Free 14-day trial
Best for creating and publishing Courses/Online Community Forums.
BuddyBoss is a different beast altogether when you consider it in the context of generic community-building tools. Unlike other platforms that are hosted platforms, with BuddyBoss you get a WordPress-based community-building solution. You can use the software’s many tools to create online communities that are rich in features and highly customizable.
The platform can be used to create posts, online courses, forums, member directories, and much more. You also get the privilege of conjuring an event right inside your sub-group or community. Thanks to the native Zoom integration, BuddyBoss also allows you to host live events within your built communities.
- Stunning Community Dashboard
- Incite engagement with comments and likes
- Activity Feeds
- Social Search
- Built inside the WordPress ecosystem
- Leverages React Native to build Native iOS and Android Apps
- Highly customizable
- Develop white-label apps
- 24/7 tech support
- You need basic technical skills to operate this platform smoothly.
Verdict: BuddyBoss isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. If you have the technical skills to steer this platform, then you’ve got software that can help you create forums, member directories, online courses, and other types of online communities in no time.
- 1 Site: $228 per year
- 5 Sites: $288 per year
- 10 Sites: $388 per year
Best for superior customer engagement.
Tribe heavily emphasizes community building above everything else. This, we believe, is both its strength and drawback. To start with, you get community-building features that are advanced but do not compromise on ease of use. On the downside, however, Tribe lacks the ability to monetize content.
Tribe truly excels with regard to its customization option. You can customize almost everything pertaining to your online community, straight from the brand logo to the color and design. To put it simply, you get a complete white-label experience using Tribe, which makes it one, if not the best community platform out there.
- Rich content support
- AI-driven activity feed
- Advanced moderation tools
- Robust Gamification system
- Private Messaging
- SSO Integration
- Fully customizable
- Integrate with several third-party tools
- Robust moderation and gamification capabilities.
- Lack of monetization capabilities.
Verdict: Engagement-inciting gamification, an AI-driven activity feed, and the flexibility to customize online communities make Tribe a community-building platform worth checking out. Be warned, however, that it might not be to your liking if you seek to monetize the online community you built.
- Plus: $59/month
- Premium: $299/month
- Advanced: $599/month
- Custom Enterprise Available
- 14-day free trial
Best for easy online community creation.
Hiverbrite caters to the needs of organizations that want to build and manage their alumni, professional, and volunteer networks in an efficient manner. The platform lets you build a community as per your wishes with tons of customization options. Hiverbrite also does wonders when it comes to creating events and selling tickets for them.
The platform further excels by offering monetization tools, something we look forward to in such community platforms. You can earn money through your conceived communities by accepting membership fees, donations, and creating member tiers.
There is also a concession here for organizations who want to create job boards to regularly post new job openings.
- Pre-Integrated CMS
- Full Moderation
- Create Content Automatically via RSS Feeds
- Calendar to Organize events
- Create and sell tickets for events
- Great monetization tools
- Highly customizable
- Integrated with social media channels like Twitter and Facebook
- Mobile push notifications
- Only meant for large-scale businesses because of the cost
Verdict: We recommend Hiverbrite to large-scale businesses that wish to build an online community that can be customized in a million ways to serve a wide variety of purposes.
We especially like how smooth it is when it comes to integration with social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, making it ideal for organizations that seek to constantly grow the numbers in their community.
Price: Contact for a quote
Best for simple community building for casual conversations.
Discourse as the name suggests, gives you a tool that can be used to create simple online communities that let you share ideas and experiences with like-minded people.
The best part about this software is the in-time loading feature, which allows you to simply scroll endlessly through your entire conversation without unnecessary loading or clicking on the ‘Next’ page.
The platform also facilitates dynamic notifications, which basically means you will be notified if someone uses your @name or quotes your post. Discourse was made for mobile and features a visually austere but immaculate mobile-only interface compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
- In-Time Loading
- Dynamic Notifications
- One-touch link expansion
- Spam Blocking
- Easy to use
- Allows you to add social logins
- SSO integration
- Robust community moderation
- Not for monetization or creating and selling online courses.
- Very expensive
Verdict: Discourse stays true to its name and arms you with all the tools you need to help build, maintain and grow an online community. It is very simple, facilitates dynamic notifications for instant alerts, and also allows you to block spam with a single click.
On the downside, the platform is very costly with the base plan charging users as high as $100/month.
- Standard Plan: $100/month
- Business Plan: 300/month
- Custom Enterprise Plan
- 14 day free trial
Best for creating online communities with complete control.
Disciple is the final community-building platform on my list because of how easy it makes online community creation seem. Disciple is fantastic when it comes to creating content and scheduling publications. The software is also ideal for designing sub-groups, moderating members, and tracking performance metrics.
One of the best features of Disciple is definitely its live-streaming capability. The platform basically allows you to go live within your community, no Zoom or similar applications are required.
Community feeds can be personalized to deliver a unique experience to each member. It also facilitates easy monetization, a feature that instantly makes community platforms a winner in my book.
- Livestreaming Functionality
- Group and Private Messaging
- Push Notifications
- Member moderation
- Content Library
- Advanced Monetization Tools
- Facilitates Livestreaming without Zoom or similar apps required.
- Get GDPR compliant secure community platform for superior control
- Intuitive personalization tools
- A transaction fee is charged
- Very expensive
Verdict: If you look beyond expensive plans, you will find amazing feature-rich online community-building software in Disciple. The platform particularly shines because of its live streaming functionality, which functions fine without apps like Zoom.
- Web Platform starts at $55/month
- Mobile Platform starts at $549/month
- Mobile and Web Platform combined platform starts at $604/month.
As you can see, there are a plethora of options available to you when it comes to good, easy-to-use community-building platform software.
Regardless of whether you want to build a community to promote your brand or simply wish to find people to socialize with, the above tools will help you create and manage online communities that serve that purpose magnificently.
Some of these Online Community Platforms will also allow you to monetize your created community with subscription and membership fees. Simply put, this is the only list you’ll need to refer to do your due diligence before selecting a platform that’s ideal for your specific needs.
As for my recommendation, if you are looking for an online community platform builder with in-built customization and monetization tools, then look no further than Mighty Networks. Podia is another tool you can try for its modern design and feature-rich interface.
- We spent 10 hours researching and writing this article so you can have summarized and insightful information on which Online Community Platforms you should try.
- Total Online Community Platforms Researched: 25
- Total Online Community Platforms Shortlisted: 12