Top 10 Best Online Community Platforms 2021 (Software Reviews)

Being at the very beginning of creating your own online community you have to make the right choice of a platform. Though nowadays the world of such software turned out into real business, there is no real difference between choosing a community platform and any other platform. You have to consider the main features offered by the software.

Contents
  1. Community vs. Forum
  2. 3 Aspects to Consider
  3. Top 10 Platforms for your online community
  4. Our Final Thoughts on Online Communities

People are group creatures, we always try to gather into groups or communities. We are used to it since our childhood, at first we go to kindergarten, then school, college, and career. There’s no surprise that the Internet helps us to unite within communities upon hobbies, business, or any other interests. 

Community vs. Forum

Though being on the other side of creating an online community might be a little challenging. As users, we tend to be kind of blindfolded to all the features and efforts that community hosts really put into it. Sometimes for users, there is no real difference between a forum and an online community. Then at first let’s draw a clear line between these two types. 

What is common to both forums and online communities is the format of the discussion, where users share their experiences and opinion about the offered content. Users gather in communities, share their thoughts and build new social connections. But that’s the end of their similarity. 

For forums, ensuring communication between users is the only and main purpose. At the same time, online communities have a number of other functions. Online communities can offer microblogs, content libraries, live streaming, and some other features to their members. Moreover, online communities can act as a good tool to attract new audiences to your business. 

3 Aspects to Consider

Being at the very beginning of creating your own online community you have to make the right choice of a platform. Though nowadays the world of such software turned out into real business, there is no real difference between choosing a community platform and any other platform. You have to consider the main features offered by the software. 

Different platforms provide various features of communities. With this variability, we come over the next important aspect: advantages and disadvantages of a platform. As a spectrum of features might be really wide you have to understand which of them would be applied to your community, and which of them would be left aside. Some platforms offer features that are not offered by others. For example, not every platform has inbuilt monetization features, so it might be a considerable disadvantage for someone who would like to turn a community into a life-earning business. 

Taking into account all the key features, pros, and cons of a platform, here comes the moment when you have to check the price of a platform. It is important to consider all the features that you need and understand if an exact platform doesn’t offer several features that might be of your need but require a relatively high price, you might think about any other platform. 

Top 10 Platforms for your online community

1. Facebook groups

Facebook is one of the biggest social media of the 21st century. It’s a huge business model that offers an opportunity to build an online community within the media. The key features of the platform are as follows: engaging posts, the ability to create online events, you as a host of the community can organize topics and content, there are both web and mobile versions available for a community page. Moreover, if you plan to interact with members of your community closer, you can set online video streams for small groups of people (less than 50 members). 

Talking about the 2 main advantages of Facebook Groups we should name integration of Facebook functionality and access to all the members of Facebook, which is about 2.6 billion people. 

Though there are a lot of disadvantages. First of all, you don’t have any control over notifications, or over the community. Because you don’t create your own community, you just create a kind of a page on the basis of a platform. Secondly, there would be tons of notifications that your audience would get. It would be not only notifications about updates of your community but also all the rest that users get from Facebook, so important news about your business would get lost in this flow of information. 

Facebook has no paid plan for creating online communities. That is great for those who are on a tight budget, but you should understand that not all free plans are the right choice. 

2. Scrile Connect

Scrile Connect is a brand new software that is already attracting attention from businesses and creators who are interested in their own online communities. Key features offered by Scrile Connect allow you to create various content (images, videos, posts, etc), call members of the community with the help of a custom community video service. 

Online communities designed on the Scrile Connect platform can be used well for both educational courses, business communities, or fan communities of any bloggers. 

Main advantages of Scrile Connect:

  • Multiple monetization tools
  • 0% commission fee from revenue
  • Posts with gated access for community members only

The only disadvantage of this software is a result of the novelty of the Scrile Connect platform, so the number of members here is less than in Facebook, and attracting new members to the community is the responsibility of the creator.

Still Connect has several available plans that you can use depending on the community that you want to see at the end. 

3. Mighty Networks

Mighty Network is another popular platform that is used to create online communities. Key features for this platform are quick posts, polls and quizzes, you can create complete articles, plan online events through the Zoom integrated application. 

As the main advantage we highlighted the following features: 

  • Create both community and website for your business
  • Manage notifications from the side of the community host 
  • White-label app
  • Plan and create courses on the community basis

Exploring the platform as the main disadvantage we defined the curve of studying the platform from the member’s side. It might take some time for users to get used to it and manage with all the features of

The community. 

Below you can check all the available plans. All of them include unlimited members, charge for membership, direct messaging and etc. 

4. Circle

Circle is a platform focused only on the creation of communities. It has a clean design and intuitive interface that is easy to get used to. For experienced online creators, direct integration of WordPress might be a cherry on the cake. 

Considerable advantages of the platform:

  • Private rooms inside of your community
  • Embed widgets 
  • Mobile app (only for members with iOS)

For disadvantages, we highlighted 3 important aspects. The mobile app is not available for members of your online community with the android software system. You cannot create any courses within the community and there are no tools that you can use to monetize your content. 

There are several plans that you can choose from if you want to create a community on this software. 

5. Tribe

Tribe is a software that is pretty similar to Circle, the design and interface are pretty simple and alike. Though you can publish articles, post images, videos, and any other type of content that you like. Also, there is a Q&A section that can be used to become closer with your audience. 

Main advantages of Tribe software:

  • White-label business approach
  • Custom domain for your community
  • Inbuild gamification features
  • Library of apps that can be used to customize your community

Disadvantages of such software are no monetization tools, no native live stream, no Zoom integration. Taking it into consideration we assume that the experience of communication with members of the community will be a little one-sided. 

Here are all the plans offered by Tribe platform. 

6. Disciple

Disciple is one more new software that can help you to create an online community. Key features that are important: fully branded community, personalized feed, and functionality to post any images, videos, articles, etc. 

Most handy advantages of this software:

  • Complete control over the community and member’s notifications
  • Inbuild online streaming functionality 
  • Monetization tools

As Disciple is quite a new platform there are not so many disadvantages. Though we want to admit that being a host on the platform you cannot turn off any inbuilt components. It might be out of your use and no need for it, but you can’t turn it off. Also, the process of communication with the support team might not be really smooth, because of some extra time needed (time zone difference). 

Disciple software offers you only two available plans for your business. 

7. Hivebrite

Hivebrite software is designed for educational and volunteer programs. Common options are about posting any type of media, the creation of smaller groups inside of a community, and mobile apps available on both iOS and Android. 

For Hivebrite software we want to highlight two main advantages that put this software aside from the rest. As it was mentioned above this platform is a good choice for students and volunteer communities because there is an online job board. It is created for members of the community to post any job opportunities for young people to try themselves in real tasks and gain valuable experience. Secondly, it has an opportunity to present member’s startups and projects. It helps them to find like-minded people, communicate with them online and support, that helps to develop those projects. 

Though Hivebrite’s biggest advantage can also be viewed as a disadvantage. As it is so concerned about educational programs and volunteer communities, the rest of the businesses are left aside because the functionality is directed on a certain group of creators. 

There are no paying plans for this software. It doesn’t mean that the software is good or bad. With free access, all the communities get the same number of features and level of access.

8. BuddyBoss

BuddyBoss software is based on WordPress. Like the rest of alike software, it allows you to create various content to share with your online community. Key features are also represented by the creation of new discussions, topics, and an intuitive interface that is easy to learn.

As for the pros and cons of this software, we’d like to highlight gamification of member’s experience, plugins available for any plan, integration of  LearnDash, several monetization opportunities (including selling access to the online community), and a white-label app. As for cons, the only thing is that you should be rather an experienced tech user, because of the WordPress base, the creator of the community should have enough knowledge to make a decent community with it. 

Here you can check the price for all 3 available plans. 

9. Vanilla

Vanilla software is another way that creators can choose. Functionality is pretty similar to other community builders. You can share content with the help of images, videos, and any other media. Communications are realized via discussions and Q&A. Web version of the community is available on all plans, but for the mobile application, you pay separately. 

As pros, we can mention gamification of members’ experience through interaction with the online community. SSO integration makes the process of registration really smooth. 

As for cons, there are several aspects that concern us. At first, we already mentioned that you have to pay separately if you want your community to be available on members’ smartphones.

Secondly, it is integrated with WordPress software, so you should be sure about your experience in creating websites or online communities. WordPress might be a little more tricky than it seems at the first sight. 

Vanilla software has four available plans, but the price is not presented on their official website. 

10. Slack

Slack is a platform that is mostly used to create well built job communities within one business, though it shouldn’t be left aside. It is a powerful collaboration tool that allows you to create channels and video calls. 

Slack has two main advantages over the rest software:

  • Top-notch usability
  • Wide distribution

The following disadvantages are out of concern of community creators who already have their loyal members and don’t want any alien users. So Slack doesn’t allow the creation of public communities within the platform. What makes your online community invisible for any search engine. No special customization and no access to analytics and statistical. 

Slack has a free plan for creators that are still not sure if they like the software or not, and 3 paid plans. 

Our Final Thoughts on Online Communities

As you can see there are software solutions for any kind of purpose or budget. We tried to be unprejudiced in our rating of the above-mentioned software. It doesn’t matter what kind of community you want to create. No way you will lose the way to your ideal platform. You can stick with one purpose-centered platform as Hivebrite, use Slack for transferring existing communities into the digital sphere, or choose Scrile Connect a solution that would work well for any purpose and budget. 

Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to get more information about online community building process. We will be happy to help and guide you through this journey.