best online community platform


Do you ever wish to have a place to host your army of customers who would protect you on a rainy day when your reputation is in danger? What if you don’t need to start from scratch every time you want to run a marketing campaign? In short, having an online community platform is like building a house for your superfans. In this article, we help you find the best online community platform for your specific needs.

Table of Contents

What is a community platform?

When people with a common interest gather to communicate around that interest, they form a community. Creating a community around your brand or product leads to a strong synergy among your top customers. Moreover, you create a direct communication line between you and your customers and increase the efficiency of your retention marketing activities.

One of the main elements of creating a branded community is the place you will host the members. In a virtual world, that place is a community platform. Your options for a community platform are very different, and you should choose one based on your budget and expectations.

The importance of having an online community platform

Creating an online space for your customers to connect is a bonus service in their eyes. So they value your decision to make such a move. Moreover, it results in added motivation among your superfans to stay loyal to your brand. Also, you will have a direct channel to convey your messages to your customers, impact their purchasing decisions, and receive their help when needed.

Starting from scratch or going for SaaS?

Although you can create your own community platform designed for your specific needs, it is not an affordable or rational decision for most SMEs. Therefore, we will be reviewing affordable choices here.

You can use social media as your community platform, but you have the least control over the data, activities, and features to protect and manage your community. Fortunately, there are several community platforms to use with affordable fees. You can go through the top 10 community platforms on this blog.

It’s not about quantity!

Whether you have a community of hundreds of members or just the top 100, you can yield significant outcomes in both cases. But it’s crucial to choose the right platform with the features you need to achieve your desired results.

What is the best online community platform for me?

When choosing a community platform for your business, it is crucial to identify your main goal of having an online community. In particular, what your business needs most and what your customers will find most valuable. Each platform has some advantages and disadvantages that make them suitable for specific needs. Here is a list of what differentiates online community platforms from each other for you to review:

  • A community for content creators, online shops, or a customer support forum
  • Customization features
  • Features like moderation, gamification, and live meetings.
  • Features that are not directly related to having a community; such as monetization or single sign-on (SSO) functionality
  • Your available budget (monthly or annually)

1. Bettermode (Tribe); white-label, forum function

For many, Tribe, now known as Bettermode, is the first platform that comes to mind when thinking of an online community platform. It offers community features such as badges, points, virtual currency, a leaderboard system, and a thread-based communication format. Both content creators and businesses can take advantage of this community platform.

Pros

  • Integrations 
  • Powerful analytics
  • Customization
  • Community features
  • Moderation tools

Cons

  • No mobile apps functionality,
  • No inbuilt monetization tools,
  • No live stream functionality

Pricing: $599 a month and an enterprise plan. There is also a free plan for up to 100 community members if you want to test the platform before using it on a large scale.

2. Mighty Networks; best for content creators

With a native course builder alongside monetization features for subscriptions and selling courses, Mighty Networks is the best all-in-one community platform for content creators. Moreover, you can divide each group into sub-groups, conduct polls, and store unlimited files. In addition, you can moderate shared texts and videos.

Pros

  • Community features
  • Well-developed analytics and dashboard
  • A free app (for iOS and Android)
  • Monetization tools
  • Livestreaming

Cons

  • No support for SSO integrations
  • Charges a transaction fee

Pricing: Starts from $39 to $119 a month, depending on your needs for online courses.

3. Pukket; a 4-in-1 community platform dedicated to social selling for e-commerce stores

Pukket is a new community platform designed to facilitate growth for online businesses through different word-of-mouth and community marketing methods. It enables you to enhance the engagement and loyalty of your customers through a point-based reward system and run referral and UGC marketing campaigns. In addition, going through the community onboarding process via your CRM, website, or social media accounts streamlines the community-building process. You can also manage your influencer marketing campaigns on this platform.

Business dashboard is on the left; community chat is on the right.

Pros

  • Community tools such as chatrooms
  • Gamification tools (point and rewards system)
  • Branded subdomain
  • Shopify integration
  • Content creator management (Automated UGC moderation and collection)
  • Visual and Textual sentiment analysis
  • Referral marketing features and tracking

Cons

  • Limited integrations
  • Moderation
  • Livestreaming

Pricing: Starts from$50 a month with a 1-month free trial. For more details, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page. We will contact you within 48 hour.

4. Hivebrite; a platform for professionals

With high a level of customization, analytics, and integrations, Hivebrite seems to be the perfect match for experienced marketers who want to run various campaigns. Hiverbrite can be the best choice for big companies with large numbers of customers who can afford the high fees. It does, however, provide powerful community management features such as dedicated subgroups concurrently.

Pros

  • Customization
  • Moderation
  • Integrated CMS
  • Email campaigns
  • Community features
  • Monetization
  • Branded mobile apps
  • Livestreaming
  • Data and analytics

Cons

  • No public guide on how to start (need to contact customer support)
  • High fees

Pricing: is not disclosed. You need to contact the sales team to get the details, but it starts at $500 a month.

5. Discourse; an open-source community platform

Discourse has a user-friendly interface and an easy-to-use forum environment with a vast plugin directory. Therefore, if you are a developer who wishes to create a simple, branded forum, you can enjoy Discourse’s free plan to design your preferred support community. However, it does not seem suitable for creating interest-based communities.

Pros

  • Forum with comments
  • Mobile app
  • Dynamic notifications
  • Open-source code and flexible API
  • Automatic filtering for spammers

Cons

  • Lack of engagement tools
  • The hosted option is expensive
  • No live streaming

Price: from $100 to $300 a month for the managed hosting plan and the self-host plan is free.

6. Vanilla forums (owned by Higher Logic)

Vanilla forums are a product of Higher Logic, designed to be easily shaped in the way you prefer and to manage the communication between your customers and get their feedback. Also, the Q&A feature allows you to reduce customer support expenses. Furthermore, you can encourage engagement by giving points and badges for their answers. Above all, it automatically creates a site map to increase its SEO rank.

Pros

  • Customization through HTML and CSS
  • Community features, such as multiple sub-communities 
  • Mobile friendly
  • Analytics
  • Moderation
  • Integrations
  • White-label apps

Cons

  • Monetization tools

Pricing:  From $600. For more details, you need to contact the sales team. 

7. Circle; minimalist approach community

With its beautiful interface, Circle has made it easy to create your own branded community and increase engagement. Although it offers features like customization and custom domain names that can be attractive to companies, Circle has the community and management features required with reasonable prices for content creators and trainers.

Pros

  • Mobile app
  • Community features like chats and group chats
  • Livestreaming
  • Monetization
  • App integrations
  • Advanced analytics
  • Customization

Cons

  • No Android app

Pricing: From $39 to $399 a month, depending on members, admins, and storage required.

8. Disciple; ideal for integration lovers

Disciple lets you have full control and ownership over your branded community. The setup process is easy, and the community features are satisfying. But their pricing method is unique, and the fees increase as the number of members grows beyond 100. In short, it is considered an expensive platform compared to the alternative options.

Pros

  • App integrations
  • Livestreaming
  • Analytics insights
  • Monetization
  • Branded iOS and Android apps

Cons

  • Expensive packages

Pricing: The web package starts at $46, and the app package starts at $549 per month; you’ll have to pay around $2,000 per month if you have more than 10k community members.

9. Facebook; initial setup

Most people, regardless of demographics, have a Facebook profile. This popularity makes Facebook Groups an easy choice when choosing a new community platform.
Facebook groups are free. The downside is that most members won’t see every group post in the activity feed unless they visit the group directly. As a result, member engagement in Facebook groups is generally pretty low.

Pros

  • Different post formats
  • Greeting messages
  • Option for rules
  • Documents folder
  • Community real-time chats
  • Set up recurring events 

Cons

  • No customization
  • No monetization
  • Need for fighting the algorithms

Pricing: Free

10. BuddyBoss; an open-source platform with WordPress integration

Since BuddyBoss is built on WordPress, it gives you more flexibility to control and scale your online community. In addition, you can enjoy more functions through your branded mobile app if you are tech-savvy. BuddyBoss provides both forum features and virtual class management features. As a result, it is beneficial for both online businesses and teachers. Thinkific is its strong competitor.

Pros

  • Zoom integrations
  • Customizable dashboard
  • Monetization integrations
  • Ability to gamify your community
  • Ability to get a white-label mobile app

Cons

  • Relied on WordPress
  • Needs to be tech-savvy for more functions

Pricing: Starts from $228 to $3,366 a year, with a 100% risk-free money-back guarantee.

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