10+ Community Platforms For 2022: Free & Paid
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The internet changed the world in several ways, but none more than the way humans connect with each other.
Virtual communities changed everything from hobbies to the way we do business.
Before the internet, communities consisted of neighbors, coworkers, and other locals.
It wasn’t always easy to find people who shared your interests and hobbies.
Small businesses with specialty products struggled to find a market.
Today, you can join a book club with people on the other side of the globe.
It’s easier than ever to launch a new business or campaign to spread awareness of a cause.
You can find people who love a hobby as much as you or fight for policy changes.
Virtual communities made this all possible.
There is nothing more powerful in this space than a community platform.
Of course, you have dozens of options to choose from, so how do you choose?
Learn everything you need to know about community platforms and which ones are the best.
Table Of Contents
- What Is a Community Platform?
- Who Uses Community Platform Software?
- What Features Should a Community Software Have?
- What Are the Best Community Platforms?
- Other Types of Community Platforms
- Factors to Consider When Selecting a Community Platform
- Benefits of Using Community Platforms Software
- Key Use Cases for Community Platforms
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What Is a Community Platform?
Community platforms bring people together online and even support real world meetings.
These communities connect people online via forums, message boards, and email lists.
Engagement is the driving force behind community platforms.
Participants can share thoughts, ideas, and experiences with people like them.
It’s also an opportunity to gain feedback and input from a targeted audience.
Who Uses Community Platform Software?
Building a supportive, engaged brand community is critical for any business or cause.
Modern societies exist in large part online, making the world larger and smaller at the same time.
You can reach people across the globe with a few clicks.
But, you have to break through the noise from others seeking attention.
Community platform software filters out noise to connect you with the right people.
These platforms allow individuals and brands to engage in meaningful ways.
What Features Should a Community Software Have?
There is no one-size-fits-all option.
Choosing the right community software takes some research and thought.
Try creating a wish list of features to narrow the field to the perfect fit your organization.
- Various communication channels allow you to disseminate and receive information.
- Search and filter options improve the user experience.
- Customization is key to maintaining brand consistency with colors, logos, and imaging.
- Make sure the platform handles every language you use.
- Security features should include spam protection and strong data security.
- Make sure it is easy to use for you and your customers.
- Gamification features hook your customers and keep them coming back for more.
- Look for platforms with SEO features to improve your online presence and authority.
Finally, the community software should provide access to in-depth analytics.
You should be able to refine your efforts to meet customer needs.
What Are the Best Community Platforms?
There are dozens of community platforms available and something for everyone.
After a lot of research, we selected the best options to help you make a decision.
Mighty Networks is a platform that allows you to post articles, videos, and more.
Users can connect, learn, and interact with you and the community.
Who Does Mighty Networks Fit Best?
This platform is best for entrepreneurs and creatives who want to grow their community.
Businesses can also gain from the platform, especially with the custom app option.
What Are the Main Features of Mighty Networks?
Mighty Networks is popular because it offers personalization and a dynamic interface.
There are several options available to create a custom community with this mighty network, including:
- Activity feeds are easy to follow and customizable.
- Unlimited members regardless of plan size.
- Personalize everything with your brand.
- Easily build courses to sell.
- Various communication channels, including private messaging and small group chats.
- Hold live events, meetings, and group chats.
- Analytics dashboard tracks memberships and trends.
You can also embrace the Mighty Pro option.
Mighty Networks creates a custom mobile app for your brand to optimize membership.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community with Mighty Networks?
One of the neatest things about Mighty Networks is that the platform has its own community.
The Mighty Community teaches you about different features.
You can even attend workshops and events.
Additionally, the platform provides an extensive help center.
Read articles and watch videos detailing how to use the software.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Mighty Networks Platform?
Mighty Insights is the user dashboard for this platform.
Users can access a Glossary of Key Terms through a hyperlink.
Pros of Using Mighty Networks
- Mighty Networks comes with high ratings on G2, GetApp, and Capterra.
- It’s easy to use.
- You get a range of features in one platform.
- The event calendar and course-building options stand out from the crowd.
- Detailed analytics help you refine content and goals.
Pricing Plans for Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks offers a free trial without providing a credit card.
If you like the platform then you can upgrade.
- The Community Plan starts at $33 per month if you pay annually.
You get a website, live streaming, chat, messaging, events, and paid memberships.
- The Business Plan starts at $99 per month with annual payments.
This level adds online courses, live courses, analytics, Zapier APIs, and workflows.
The site does not list pricing for upgrading to Mighty Pro.
You can request a demo and speak with the team to get an estimate.
Tribe is another powerful community-building platform with rich features that make engagement easy.
Sign-up is easy; users can use existing social media profiles from other platforms.
Who Does Tribe Fit Best?
Tribe is best for smaller businesses and creators who want to build organic communities.
But, Tribe boasts some notable corporate customers.
IBM created a private community for their technology teams.
What Are the Main Features of Tribe?
This platform offers a range of tools that serves as a communication hub.
It offers dozens of customizable features.
Tribe claims to help you create a custom version of Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Spaces represent the various segments with easy to interpret names.
- Apps include the analytics, custom codes, and Google Tag Manager.
- Enhance and optimize your content before posting.
- Moderation tools give you control over comments.
- Search and filter features help users find what they want faster.
- Activity feeds update regularly to keep information fresh.
- Customize domains, colors, and layouts to match your brand.
- Create private communities.
Tribe also offers powerful security features to ensure safety and privacy.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With Tribe?
Yes, there is a guide for launching a community with Tribe.
Users can follow a step-by-step install and setup.
The site also features webinars and access to an Expert Network if necessary.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Tribe Platform?
Tribe features an online Glossary of important terms and definitions.
Search alphabetically or by typing in at least part of a word.
Pros of Using Tribe
- Robust features including augmented videos.
- Integrates with multiple third-party platforms.
- Stellar customer support and knowledge base.
- Features over 25 languages.
- Robust moderation features.
Pricing Plans for Tribe
Tribe offers four plans but is free for up to 100 members.
Users get a discount for paying annually instead of monthly.
- Plus Members can start for free until they reach 100 members.
At 100 members, the plan starts at $59 per month and includes three administrative seats.
- Premium Membership starts at 2,500 members and includes five admin seats for $299 per month.
- At 25,001 members, you move to Advanced Membership status and $599 per month.
The new plan includes five additional admin seats and a range of advanced features.
- Enterprise Members have more than 100,000 members and enter a new billing system.
Pricing goes through the sales team and you get several upgrades.
Everybody can start for free without providing a credit card.
Tribe also permits users to buy extra admin seats if desired.
BuddyBoss is one of the more versatile community platforms.
Users can choose a website package or a custom app.
Who Does BuddyBoss Fit Best?
This highly-rated platform seems to work best for educators and coaches.
It boasts a range of high-profile clients, including Stanford and Yale.
The website option is for use on WordPress.
What Are the Main Features of BuddyBoss?
BuddyBoss is a comprehensive platform for websites or as a custom app.
You get similar features with each option but the delivery differs.
- Web version is a WordPress Theme.
- Adds popular social networking features on your site.
- Integrates with the LearnDash plugin to deliver courses.
- Drag and drop editing tools.
- Many plug and play functions for easy customization.
- Customize the site to match your brand.
- Unlimited members, groups, courses, and admins.
The custom apps offer the same features with your branding.
Sell it in the App Store or Google Play Store.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With BuddyBoss?
There is a guide for launching the platform.
Users also have access to a robust help system and 24/7 customer support.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the BuddyBoss Platform?
There is not a glossary, but BuddyBoss has a Knowledge Base with tutorials.
You can access information on any unknown terms through the search bar.
Pros of Using BuddyBoss
- Easy to use.
- Unlimited members and page views.
- Compatible with many plugins and third-party tools.
- 21-day risk-free guarantee.
- 24/7 technical support.
Pricing Plans for BuddyBoss
BuddyBoss bills annually for all products.
The pricing differences depend on the number of sites or app features.
- One site: $228
- Five sites: $288
- Ten sites: $388
- Standard features: $179 per month.
- Done for you: $1,999 one-time payment plus $179 per month.
- Developer: $299 one-time payment plus $278 per month.
Users pay the monthly app fees annually.
The “done for you” and “developer” packages include advanced features and more support.
Vanilla Forums is a mature platform for building brand awareness and connecting with customers.
Users can select an open-source version or paid plan.
The paid plans include advanced features.
Who Does Vanilla Forums Fit Best?
This platform is versatile enough to meet the needs of most organizations but medium to large companies.
It focuses on discussions and gathering ideas from members while letting businesses track trends.
What Are the Main Features of Vanilla Forums?
Vanilla Forums offers several features to increase engagement and brand awareness.
It focuses on an exceptional user experience for customers and admins.
- Create forums for customers to exchange ideas.
- Build a knowledge base about your brand, product, or service.
- Q&A features let you support customers through many avenues.
- Crowdsource ideas through polls.
- Gamification features let users build reputation to gain abilities on the platform.
- Custom themes match your branding.
- Manage multiple groups and forums with unique interests and topics.
- Schedule and share events online and in real life.
- Enhance standard growth analytics with Google Analytics.
The platform integrates with various other software to create a seamless experience.
For example, if you already use Salesforce as a CRM, it works with Vanilla.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With Vanilla Forums?
New users can access a “Getting Started” checklist to guide them through setup.
Further support and information exists in the Resource Library.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Vanilla Forums Platform?
There is no glossary of key terms available.
Pros of Using Vanilla Forums
- Customizable to match your brand
- Moderation features include demerits and banning
- Q&A system
- Event calendar with RSVP capabilities
- Integrates with WordPress
Pricing Plans for Vanilla Forums
Vanilla Forums offers three pricing plans, Essential, Corporate, and Enterprise.
The platform does not list prices and directs you to speak with a sales representative.
Discourse is one of the older community platforms.
It’s also one of the simplest to install, learn, and use.
Users can tap into an open-source or cloud-based version depending on their needs.
Who Does Discourse Fit Best?
This platform is a solid option for anybody because it’s so versatile.
There are many customization options and it is mobile responsive.
What Are the Main Features of Discourse?
Discourse markets its product as a civilized discussion for any community.
The open-source version is possibly the best in the business.
Users can discuss via mailing list, chat room, and discussion forum.
- Bypass the need to click next page thanks to the infinite scrolling option.
- Receive notifications whenever someone mentions you.
- Simple, easy to use, flat forums let you track conversation s.
- Use emojis and badges to add flair.
- Spam blocking alerts you to potential spammers.
- Summarize topics with the click of a button.
- Intuitive admin dashboard.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With Discourse?
There are many guides for launching a community with Discourse.
Users can access the guides for their individual software needs in the Community section.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Discourse Platform?
There is currently not a glossary of key terms used in the Discourse platform.
Pros of Using Discourse
- Reply to users via email and personal messaging.
- Compatible with many plug-ins.
- Built-in moderation system.
- Available in 45 languages.
- Easy to use dashboard.
Pricing Plans for Discourse
Users can get the open source software for free but need to pay for hosting somewhere.
Discourse offers managed forum hosting at three price points.
- Standard plan: $100 per month for up to 100,000 monthly page views, 20GB storage, 100,000 monthly emails, and five admins.
- Business plan: $300 per month for up to 500,000 monthly page views, 100GB storage, 300,000 monthly emails, and 15 admins.
- Enterprise plan: contact sales for pricing to get over 200GB storage, over three million page views per month, and over 1.5 million emails per month.
All paid plans include a free 14-day trial period, unlimited members, a mobile app, and SSL.
Disciple is a paid platform that allows users to create private communities.
It’s one of the easiest platforms to set up and use with intuitive features.
Who Does Disciple Fit Best?
Disciple best fits creators and entrepreneurs with visual products.
It has many customers in the food, arts, and health and fitness industries.
What Are the Main Features of Disciple?
Customer service is one of the key selling points for Disciple.
The platform caters to individual needs.
Judging by high ratings, Disciple does an excellent job with customer service.
- Create a private community where you can sell courses and subscriptions.
- Share content from one place.
- Organize content into a structured library.
- Integrates with top tools.
- Hold events, polls, and livestreams.
Like other platforms, Disciple allows you to track analytics to refine your efforts.
It also features strong privacy and security features to protect your community.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community with Disciple?
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Disciple Platform?
There is not a specific glossary of key terms.
The platform has an extensive knowledge base where you can search for terms to find answers.
Pros of Using Disciple
- Private communities
- Monetize your efforts
- Easy to build and use
- Outstanding customer service
- Customizable pricing plans
Pricing Plans for Disciple
Disciple offers a free seven-day trial.
The platform offers multiple packages and you can pay quarterly or annually.
Disciple lets users add extra features and services to make a custom package.
Web-only packages start at $46 per month when paid annually.
Mobile only packages begin at $458 per month if you pay annually.
Users can also get both web and mobile services.
Khoros is a tried and true community platform with over 15 years of experience.
It focuses on scaling and security features.
Who Does Khoros Fit Best?
Building a Khoros community is an excellent choice for any organization.
It’s versatile and integrates with multiple tools to create a cohesive experience.
What Are the Main Features of Khoros?
Khoros offers a community engagement platform as part of its broader services.
This company specializes in social media marketing and growing relationships.
- Emphasis on analytics and customer feedback.
- Business-oriented with seamless integration to the features you already use.
- Provides ongoing strategy and management services if desired.
Unlike some of the other platforms, Khoros addresses the big picture.
It sees community engagement as a piece of the puzzle.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With Khoros?
Khoros has a guide to online communities and how to set one up.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Khoros Platform?
Khoros has a list of common industry terms.
Pros of Using Khoros
- Trusted brand with over 20 years of experience.
- Integrates with most other tools.
- Part of a larger collection of products.
- Powerful SEO optimization tools.
- Easy to manage as an admin.
Pricing Plans for Khoros
Khoros does not list pricing on the website.
Interested users must contact the sales team to discuss plans.
Hivebrite is one of the most customizable options on the list.
It’s a massive platform that caters to many large companies.
Who Does HiveBrite Fit Best?
This platform best fits companies that need a straightforward system.
It does not cater to a specific industry.
What Are the Main Features of HiveBrite?
Hivebrite is clean and easy to use.
Straightforward customization options make it easy to operate and adjust everything from content to events.
But, that’s not all you get.
- Data management tools include targeting filters and profile update tracking.
- Content management puts you in control of everything.
- Manage events easily, including ticketing, payments, and sharing on social media.
- Maintain newsletters and email campaigns.
- Post opportunities for members and partners.
- Create custom groups to segment members.
This platform also features strong security and robust analytics to compete with the other options.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With HiveBrite?
HiveBrite does not have a public guide for launching a community.
Users can access a comprehensive help center and customer support.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the HiveBrite Platform?
There is no glossary of key terms posted on the website.
Pros of Using HiveBrite
- Works with organizations around the world.
- Filters members for targeted marketing.
- Full control over all content with moderation tools.
- Event management options.
- Easy payment to monetize the memberships and events.
Pricing Plans for HiveBrite
Hivebrite does not list pricing on the website.
You can request a demo and speak with the sales team.
Circle is another option gaining popularity and presence in the space.
It’s easy to use and offers an alternative to some of the large-scale platforms.
Who Does Circle Fit Best?
Circle seems to be one of the best options for coaches and educators.
It leans on live streams, events, and videos.
What Are the Main Features of Circle?
Circle is straightforward and offers many of the same features as other platforms at some of the lowest prices.
- Create content, organized discussions, and private spaces.
- Engage via chat rooms, live streams, events, and weekly newsletters.
- Many ways to monetize, including gate access and recurring subscriptions.
- Manage everything from an easy to use dashboard.
- Offer coupons, discounts, and free trials.
This platform uses a single sign-on for logging in and integrates with your website.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With Circle?
There is a guide for getting started and how to set up each space.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Circle Platform?
There is no glossary of key terms on the website.
Pros of Using Circle
- Easy to use.
- Hosts your videos in one location.
- Create private groups with restricted or paid access.
- Integrates with many third-party tools.
- Add multiple managers.
Pricing Plans for Circle
All users get a 14-day trial for free.
Circle offers three paid plans depending on the community size.
- Basic: $39 per month.
- Professional: $99 per month.
- Enterprise: $399 per month.
Each package builds on the one before it.
Users get additional members, admins, moderators, and space at each new level.
Panion is the ”people” platform.
The company markets its product as solving social challenges by bringing people together.
It aims to create safe, inclusive cultures online and in-person.
Who Does Panion Fit Best?
This platform is best for people who want to connect with others around the world.
Panion highlights the ability to transcend time zones to bring people together.
What Are the Main Features of Panion?
Panion notes that it’s a people-first platform and touts its ease of use.
The company promotes the platform’s quick setup and secure connections as well.
- Efficient searches.
- Get started in minutes.
- Assign various admins or managers to monitor events.
- Users can sign up with a Google account, Facebook login, or verifiable email address.
Unlike other options on this list, Panion is an existing space with multiple communities.
Businesses can create their own by working with the sales team.
Is There a Guide for Launching a Community With Panion?
Yes, there is a detailed walkthrough for setting up a community.
Is There a Glossary of Key Terms Used in the Panion Platform?
There is no glossary of key terms.
Pros of Using Panion
- Established platform with thousands of users around the world.
- Simple to use.
- Robust analytics and community connectivity mapping.
- Personalized profiles.
- Matchmaking algorithms connect users who like what you offer.
Pricing Plans for Panion
There are three pricing plans for Panion.
Users can pay monthly or annually, but it’s cheaper to pay annually since you get two months free.
- Starting: $38 per month for up to 5,000 members and 10 groups
- Growing: $79 per month for up to 15,000 members and 100 groups
The Scaling plan is an enterprise level option with dedicated support and management.
Pricing is only available from a member of the sales team.
Other Types of Community Platforms
The above products create discussions and engage customers to grow a brand.
There are other types of community platforms that offer unique content and work toward different goals.
A support community platform helps people find information they need.
It might involve troubleshooting a feature on specific tech.
Users turn to the forums to find information to solve problems.
What Are the Features of the Support Community Platforms?
Since people seek out support communities to solve problems, these platforms need exceptional search and filtering capabilities.
Support platforms also need technical experts and moderators who can manage the queues.
Action community platforms exist to create change.
These platforms involve advocates with a common goal at the local, national, or global level.
For example, they may target environmental issues or public health interventions.
What Are the Features of the Action Community Platforms?
These platforms need open communication across many channels to keep everyone informed.
They also require calendars and events to further their cause and engage followers.
Gamification is helpful for action communities because it lets members climb the hierarchy and grow their voices.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Community Platform
Finding the right community platform starts with a plan and wish list.
Choose the one that checks off the most boxes.
- What is your end goal?
Which platforms work best with your vision?
- Make a list of must-have features for admins and customers.
Then list the things you would like to see.
- Determine your budget and stick to it.
- Consider customer support and service reviews from trusted sources.
- Select a few platforms you like and compare them using your wish list and goals.
Running side-by-side comparisons can help you narrow down your choices.
If you can’t decide between two platforms, talk to representatives from both to see how their visions match with yours.
Benefits of Using Community Platforms Software
Between the price tags and effort involved in the process, it’s easy to wonder why you should use community platform software instead of a Facebook group.
These platforms give you a leg up in several ways.
- You get quality leads with people who want what you have.
- Expand your reach to a worldwide audience without leaving your office.
- Tap into advanced targeting features to improve the customer experience.
- Set incentives like badges and ratings to reward engagement and increase customer loyalty.
- Customize everything to increase brand recognition.
Community platform software brings everything together under one dashboard for more comprehensive analytics.
You can run multiple groups at a time to assess different products and ideas.
Key Use Cases for Community Platforms
Most companies and organizations can benefit from building a wide-reaching online community.
- Create private social networking opportunities.
- Gain insight to customer satisfaction.
- Find your key advocates among those who engage most frequently.
- Increase engagement from employees and customers.
- Generate new content consistent with your brand and send it out via many channels.
- Brainstorm on a larger scale to improve the quality of ideas and products.
Knowing how to apply a community platform isn’t always easy, but these ideas might help you sort that out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about community platforms?
Let’s clarify a few more things.
What’s the difference between a community platform and a membership platform?
Community platforms are open to everyone.
They are usually free and often require users to sign up and log in.
Membership platforms require people to join and often involve a fee or subscription.
These platforms can be privatized and restricted.
What is the cheapest community platform for edupreneurs?
BuddyBoss is the cheapest community platform for Edupreneurs as long as they use WordPress and only have one site.
What are the different ways to brand a community?
There are many different ways to brand a community but it takes time.
Start small and listen to your team.
Gradually build a base by providing consistent, valuable content.
What is the best free community platform?
Tribe is the best free online community platform.
However, it’s only free until you reach 100 members.
Questions to ask a vendor when buying best Community Software
Before you select a platform, ask the vendor these key questions about their software.
- How often do you update your software?
- What third party software is compatible with yours?
- How much can I customize?
- Can customers make suggestions for development?
- Do you have any customers who I could speak to about your software?
You might want to ask about the company’s financials and stability.
Reputable vendors will provide the information you request.
Community platforms offer organizations the opportunity to reach broader audiences and make meaningful connections.
It’s a key step to expanding your brand and building online community engagement.
Is your favorite platform on this list?
If not, let us know in the comments.