7+ Best Community Platforms of 2023 (Software Reviews)

Choosing the right community platforms is essential to your business. From online marketplaces to social networks and forums, the best community platforms can help you meet your goals. In this guide, I ranked and reviewed the 7+ best community platforms, so that you can pick the best one for you.

Thinkific

Thinkific is the best platform to build a community and it offers a wide variety of features, including course management, and more.

Skool

Skool was designed to provide the most efficient solution for online course platforms, with an emphasis on simplicity.

Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks serves creators and entrepreneurs by bringing together their community, online courses, sales pages, and more.

Tribe Platform

Tribe is an excellent platform suitable for both creators and brand-led communities and works beautifully on both web and mobile browsers.

Discourse

Discourse is an open-source forum software for discussions that also comes with a cloud-hosted version and a large selection of features.


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What is a community?

A community is a group of people who share common interests, values, and goals.

Communities are built around shared experiences, beliefs, and objectives that bring people together and create bonds of friendship, trust, and understanding.

You can connect your audiences, customers, partners, and employees under your brand to build authentic relationships.

Image credit: https://peerboard.com/

In this article, I’ll rank and review the best community platforms, helping you decide which one is right for your needs.

What Are the Best Community Platforms?

Here are my top picks for the best online community software this year.

1. Thinkific.

Best Overall Community Platform Builder.

thinkific logo

Adam’s Take

Thinkific is the best overall community platform because it’s easy to use and has a wide variety of features. It’s also one of the most affordable platforms, allowing you to create informative and engaging courses.

out of 10

Best For

Overall

Price

$0/mo-$399/mo

Annual Discount

Save 20%

Promotion

Thinkific is the best platform to build a  community for your business. It offers various features, including a drag-and-drop editor, course management, and payments.

If you want to own your community experience and have more control over the data, this might be the best platform.

You can also share content, including courses, videos, and articles.

Regarding integrations, you can use your trusted tools and services to help you build and grow your community.

With analytics, you can track the performance of your content and see what’s working well and where you need to improve.

Key Features:

  • Drag & drop website builder allows you to create a professional website.
  • Ecommerce is included so you can start selling products and services right away.
  • Product flexibility lets you offer a wide range of products and services
  • Market & sell gives you the ability to reach more customers through marketing tools and social media integrations
  • Website themes let you customize the look and feel of your website
  • Advanced customizations give you complete control over the design of your website

Pricing:

With a free version that allows you to test out the platform and see if it’s a good fit for you, Thinkific is one of the most affordable community platforms on the market.

Their pricing plans are as follows:

  • Basic: $39 per month
  • Pro: $79 per month
  • Premier: $399 per month

The annual plan also gives you a 20% discount compared to paying monthly.

Get started with Thinkific.

2. Skool.

Best For Simplicity.

skool logo

Adam’s Take

Skool was created to fill the need for a simple online course platform. With a community feature that builds trust, user profiles that track progress, and a course creation platform that makes it easy to create content, Skool provides an effective platform for students who want to take their learning into the digital space.

out of 10

Best For

Simplicity

Price

$99/mo

Annual Discount

No

Promotion

Skool is the answer for complex online course platforms that take time, energy, and money.

It is the perfect platform for instructors who are looking to create interactive and engaging courses with ease.

Skool makes it easy to build courses and share them with students in an organized way.

With an intuitive design and powerful features, instructors can quickly create their course materials and start teaching immediately.

That said, the platform shines when it comes to the community aspect.

It has a built-in forum for instructors and students to communicate so everyone can stay connected.

The platform also has an analytics dashboard, which allows instructors to track student progress and engagement in real-time.

Key Features:

  • Easy-to-use community platform builds up brand affinity and loyalty
  • A very short learning curve in terms of users experience
  • A fast-growing and active community helps you get the most out of it
  • Gamification encourages users to interact in a fun and engaging way
  • Email broadcasts allow you to send messages to your members at any time
  • Notifications keep your users actively informed about new content or activities
  • Metrics help you measure user engagement and assess success rate.

Pricing:

skool pricing

There is a straightforward $99/mo subscription to get started with Skool.

This plan includes all the features mentioned above and more.

Get started with Skool.

3. Mighty Networks.

The best online community platform ($33– $81/month)

mightynetworks logo

Adam’s Take

Mighty Networks incorporate everything you need to grow and monetize your online business in one place. You can use Mighty Networks to create and manage a wide variety of content, create sales and landing pages, and even process payments when you’re ready to start monetizing your work.

out of 10

Best For

Community

Price

$33/mo-$99/mo

Annual Discount

2 Months Free

Promotion

Mighty Networks serves creators and entrepreneurs by bringing together their community, online courses, sales pages, and more, all under their brand, across the web, and native iOS and Android apps.

Connect community members with an activity feed, sub-groups, member categories, and chat messages.

Create articles with a rich CMS, embed images, videos, and sound files, and post questions and polls, all of which support comments and a like button.

This is indeed a user-friendly platform to improve community engagement.

Read my full Mighty Networks review for more information about this platform.

Key Features:

  • Personalized activity feeds for members
  • Topics and articles
  • Direct private messaging
  • Make public, private, or paid community
  • Zapier integrations for workflow automation
  • Analytics
  • Custom domain
  • Charge for membership

Pricing:

mightynetworks pricing

There are four pricing options:

  • Community: Costs $33/month and allows you to point your community to a custom domain.
  • Business: Costs $99/month and allows you to host online courses. You also get access to Zapier integration and premium analytics.
  • Pro: Get access to native mobile apps, push notifications, and app store marketing, all under your brand. Details of pricing can be collected by contacting the Mighty Networks team.

Choose Mighty Networks if charging a membership fee and offering courses is critical for your customer community project.

Start your 14-day free trial with Mighty Networks.

4. Tribe Platform.

Most customizable community platform (free – $199/month)

tribe logo

Adam’s Take

If you’re looking to build a community platform that is both brand and creator-friendly, Tribe is a great option. I advise you to check it out if you want a piece of software that is both user-friendly and has great potential for scalability.

out of 10

Best For

Customization

Price

$59/mo-$599/mo

Annual Discount

Save 15%

Promotion

Tribe is an excellent platform suitable for both creators and brand-led communities.

The communities powered by Tribe work beautifully on both web and mobile browsers.

You can even convert them into apps (PWA).

With Tribe Platform, you can customize your community to reflect your branding.

You can even convert components like activity feeds, groups, posts, etc., into widgets and easily embed them inside your site and the product.

Popular social media sites inspire the design.

That means you create your version of Facebook, Quora, and LinkedIn.

This community tool is also highly secure and enables you to build communities with 100% GDPR compliance.

Your members can also join your community quickly using the Social Login system that supports Facebook, Slack, LinkedIn, Google, and Twitter.

Key Features:

  • Activity feeds like popular social media sites to deliver personalized content.
  • Support for different types of posts and rich media (e.g., direct video upload).
  • Enables members to upvote, comment, and reply to posts.
  • Create groups and topics to form sub-communities and categorize the content.
  • Change colors, add your brand assets, and modify the theme with CSS.
  • Embeddable widgets to add social components to sites.
  • Localize your community with 25+ international languages.
  • Leverage powerful notification tools to keep members engaged.
  • Rich gamification systems like reputation scores, badges, and leaderboards
  • Moderation system that is a combination of both user-driven flagging, standard tools for moderators (edit, delete, merge, etc.), and automation (e.g., keyword blacklisting)
  • Powerful SEO to ensure that your community is well-optimized to get indexed by search engines
  • You can export all the member and content data since you have complete control over the community with this software platform
  • Tribe has direct integration with 20+ popular third-party tools.
  • With SSO, you can allow the existing users of your site and product to log in to the community.
  • The extensive reporting capabilities allow you to measure key metrics for your community

Pricing Plans:

tribe pricing

Tribe offers four pricing plans:

  • Plus: $59 per month
  • Premium: $299 per month
  • Advanced: $599 per month
  • Enterprise: Contact their sales team.

Tribe is a well-established platform that currently boasts clients such as IBM, ASUS, Pipedrive, Decathlon, and Convertkit.

You can get started with Tribe for free and upgrade to a paid plan for more features.

5. Discourse.

One of the most popular, older online community platforms ($100/month – $300/month)

discourse logo

Adam’s Take

Discourse needs no introduction. The famous forum software powers some of the largest online communities in the world, allowing a community of any size to set up a beautiful and feature-rich forum in no time.

out of 10

Best For

Popularity

Price

$100/mo-$300/mo

Annual Discount

No

Promotion

Discourse is an open-source forum software for discussions. It also comes with a cloud-hosted version.

Key Features:

  • Infinite scroll to cover the conversations on one page
  • Link unfurling
  • Mobile responsive
  • Single sign-on
  • Additional member privileges based on the trust score
  • Ability to reply via email
  • Plugins to add functionality to your discussion forum
  • Powerful API
  • Translation in 45 languages
  • Moderation system with the ability to flag content
  • Personal messaging
  • Reporting dashboard

Pricing:

discourse pricing

Although the open-source version is free, you need to still pay for hosting and maintenance.

The managed hosting option has three subscription plans.

Standard: This $100 per month gives you 100k monthly page views, unlimited members, five staff members, and 20 GB storage.

Business: This plan costs $300 per month. It gives you 500k monthly page views, 100 GB of storage, unlimited members, and 15 staff users.

Enterprise: This is a custom plan offered to large enterprises. Comes with 3M+ monthly page views, unlimited members, unlimited staff, and 200 GB of storage.

Some popular brands using Discourse are Twitter, Samsung, Docker, and Patreon.

6. Vanilla Forums.

One of the most mature community platforms (starts from $689/month)

vanillaforums

Similar to Discourse Vanilla Forums also has both the open-source version and Similar to Discourse, Vanilla Forums also has both the open-source version and managed services (paid plans).

Paid plans unlock features not available in the open-source version.

Key Features:

  • Can match your brand guidelines with themes
  • Gamification system
  • Moderation system (merge, edit, delete, demerit points, banning)
  • Question and answer system
  • Events (scheduling, sharing, discovery, and RSVP capability)
  • Groups or sub-communities
  • Social login and SSO
  • WordPress Integration
  • API and Webhooks
  • Integration with Salesforce, Zendesk, and more

Pricing Plans:

vanilla pricing

Vanilla Forums offers four pricing options starting from $689/month.

Essential: This plan offers 250k monthly page views, five staff members, jsConnect SSO, private or public community access, gamification, and more.

Corporate: This plan offers 1M monthly page views, ten staff members, CRM integration, ideation, API access, advanced SSO, and more.

Enterprise: This plan offers a custom page view plan, custom staff users, enhanced security, uptime SLA, and more.

Enterprise Plus: For those that require the most resources for their business

7. Spectrum.chat.

The platform that combines chat and discussion threads (free)

spectrum homepage

Spectrum allows you to launch a free and public community with a real-time chat-like conversation.

At the same time, unlike messaging apps, conversations on Spectrum can be discovered by search engines and indexed.

This gives you the best of both worlds — threaded discussions and real-time chat.

However, communities built on Spectrum are not fully customizable based on your branding.

For example, you cannot host the community under your custom domain.

Other limitations include a lack of SSO, moderation tools, integrations, reporting, and analytics.

Key Features:

  • Unlimited chat
  • Unlimited members
  • Brandable signup page
  • Secure, private channels
  • Email member invitations
  • Single DM inbox

Pricing:

At this point, Spectrum is a free platform; you can get started with this solution in case of budget constraints.

8. Slack.

The easiest platform to build a community of professionals (free – $12.5/member)

Slack - Business Communication Tool

Slack is a popular business messaging and collaboration tool.

However, many are also using it for building communities for professionals.

The primary reason for this is a free plan, top-notch usability, and wide distribution of the Slack app.

However, although it is free to get started, you can easily hit the limits of the free plan.

For example, only the free plan’s first 10k messages are searchable.

Also, you can’t build public communities using Slack – this blocks people from discovering your community via search engines. Apart from that, there is no customization capability, moderation, or analytics features.

Key Features:

  • Ability to create Channels for discussions and categorize the Channels using Sections.
  • Real-time communication
  • Powerful direction integration with third-party tools
  • Member Directory
  • File browser
  • Video calling
  • Supports different pre-designed templates

Pricing Plans:

slack pricing

Slack offers four pricing options:

Free: Unlimited private & public channels, 10k searchable messages, ten apps/integrations, 1:1 video or voice calls, and file sharing.

Pro ($6.67 per member): Unlimited messages archive, unlimited apps, and group video calling.

Business+ ($12.50 per member): SAML-based SSO, data export, 99.99% uptime SLA

Enterprise Grid: This is a custom plan for enterprise companies. Comes with unlimited workspaces, advanced security features, and compliance systems.

It is highly recommended for real-time discussion. Not suitable for asynchronous communications required for discussion forums.

9. Facebook Groups.

The best platform to acquire members easily (free)

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are used to create dedicated groups for people with a shared passion to discuss various topics related to their area of interest.

These Facebook Groups can be used for a business to discuss your offerings and boost awareness about your company.

Key Features:

  • Posts, likes, and comments
  • Questionnaire setup for member approval
  • Displaying rules for moderation
  • Ability to assign mentor privilege to your most loyal members
  • Create learning modules (similar to courses) to educate your members
  • Connect the Facebook Group with Facebook Page
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Real-time chat with Messenger (if members are not friends, messages go to the “Message Requests” section)

Pricing:

Facebook Groups are free; currently, Facebook is heavily focused on improving Groups functionality.

If you are just starting, Facebook Groups can be a good option.

It doesn’t allow you to customize based on your brand, you don’t own the data, privacy can be an issue, and the platform is inherently full of distractions (owing to notifications and ads).

What is a Community Platform?

A community platform allows you to create a safe and secure online space where your members can interact with each other and your company, share knowledge, help each other, and create valuable personal and professional networks.

The software that allows you to create an online community is a community platform.

These solutions help build a community around your business and keep members engaged.

This improves user retention and boosts customer loyalty.

There are various options on the market, including Tribe, Discourse, Vanilla Forums, and more.

Whether creating a membership site, a community for your online course, or just a place for your customers to interact, you must choose the best software to make it happen.

An excellent management community software for small businesses should quickly set up and facilitate engaging discussions.

You can drive customer retention, loyalty, advocacy, and referrals with robust customer engagement.

Many companies are also leveraging social customer brand communities to promote customer self-service, collect product reviews, and improve user experience.

Ultimately, all community tools come with features like easy content posting, content management, member profiles, support for rich media, discussions, moderation, and more.

Search engines can also index the content created in your community and boost your brand’s organic visibility.

For example, search engines generally feature user-generated content from sites like Quora, support forums, and Stack Overflow (for programming questions).

Also, note that Community management is a relatively new profession.

Key Features Of A Great Community Platform

Here are the key features of a great community platform:

  • Robust Platform Security: The essential component of a good community platform is its security. It should have the latest encryption and authentication protocols to protect members’ sensitive data and ensure that all communications remain secure.
Robust Platform Security
  • User-Friendly Dashboard and Navigation: A good community platform should be easy to use, with an intuitive dashboard that makes navigating different site areas simple for new and experienced users.
User-Friendly Dashboard and Navigation
  • Flexible Customization Options: Great community platforms also offer flexibility, allowing users to customize their profiles and adjust settings according to their preferences. Everyone’s needs are met when they join the platform, regardless of experience level or background.
Flexible Customization Options
  • Advanced Moderation Tools: Good community platforms also provide advanced moderation tools, such as the ability to delete posts and ban users who don’t follow the platform’s guidelines. This feature helps maintain a healthy and safe environment for everyone involved.
Advanced Moderation Tools
  • Rich Content Engagement Options: Community platforms should also offer ways for members to engage with each other, such as comments, polls, Q&A sessions, or even live chat options. This engagement encourages meaningful conversations between members and helps make the platform more inviting and enjoyable.
Rich Content Engagement Options
  • Comprehensive Analytics and Insights: Finally, great community platforms should also offer comprehensive analytics that allows admins to track user engagement levels and see which topics are gaining traction or where users might struggle. Such insights help admins understand how the platform is being used and, in turn, make necessary improvements.
Comprehensive Analytics and Insights

Wrap Up.

We explored some of the best community solutions based on ease of use, growth potential, and features.

However, the question remains which community platform is best for your company?

It would vary depending on your specific needs.

The first step is to list the features you need and your budget. Then you need to match the community platform based on this list.

Also, it is crucial to consider the business goal you are trying to achieve and how your community platform can help you measure success.

The best part is that most of these tools have a free version or a free trial.

That way, you can test the community platform exactly based on your use case.

If you’re looking for my top pick, I recommend you start with Thinkific or Skool.

Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: Check out my post on the best and most current crowdsourcing platforms if you’re interested in learning more about the power of having a community of like-minded individuals.

 

Disclosure: I may receive affiliate compensation for some of the links below at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a paid plan. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy. This site is not intending to provide financial advice. This is for entertainment only.