Social media-based community platforms like Facebook Groups are great for building online communities but they also come with limitations.
If you want:
- Full ownership and control of your community.
- More customization options to match your branding.
- Access to more monetization capabilities without compromising your community’s user experience.
- To build an engaging and thriving online community free from distractions and algorithms.
You’ll want to get a specialized online community platform.
I tested the top-rated online community software solutions to see where each excels and fails. I considered the following aspects:
- Cost and scalability
- Rich community engagement features
- Ease of use
- Customization and branding opportunities
- Monetization opportunities
- Marketing tools
In this guide, I’ll reveal my top picks for the best community platforms for creators, edupreneurs, and businesses looking to build a thriving online community around their products.
Best Community Platforms at a Glance
Choose Kajabi if you’re looking to build an online community around your digital products. This includes online courses, paid memberships, and live coaching sessions just to mention a few.
If you’re looking for white-label community software you’ll want to go with Mighty Networks. The platform allows you to create a fully branded online community and app.
Circle is an excellent Mighty Network alternative for creating a thriving online community around your brand and expertise.
Go with Bettermode if you want to create a branded customer community around your product or service.
Here’s a table summarizing the best online community platforms in the market today.
|Community Platform||Best Features||Pricing/mon|
|Kajabi||✅ Website builder|
✅ Email marketing and funnels
✅ Native live streaming
|💰 $149 – $399/mon|
🤑 20% Discount on annual billings
|Mighty Networks||✅ Website builder|
✅ Email marketing and funnels
✅ Native live-streaming
|💰 $39 – $119/mon|
🤑 Get 2 months free with annual billings
|Circle||✅ Advanced community customizations|
✅ Intuitive user interface
✅ AI content co-pilot
|💰 $89 – $360/mon|
🤑 14-day free trial
|Bettermode||✅ Excellent community engagement features|
✅ Beautiful community themes and templates
✅ Advance inbuilt analytics
✅ Advance member profiles
|💰 $599 – Custom|
|GroupApp||✅ Online course builder|
✅ Drip scheduling
✅ Content Library
|💰 $39 – $499/mon|
🤑 14-day free trial
🤑 Save $10 with annual plans
|Thinkific||✅ Intuitive online course builder with pre-built templates|
✅ Excellent student assessment tools
✅ Thinkific App Store
|💰 $49 – $199/mon|
🤑 Free plan
🤑 Save 25% with annual plans
|Podia||✅ Free online community builder|
✅ Email marketing and automated campaigns
✅ Drag-and-drop website builder
|💰 $39 – $89/mon|
🤑 Free plan
🤑 Save 17% with annual plans
|Disciple||✅ Custom branding|
✅ Membership management
✅ Multiple content monetization options
|💰 $46 – $999|
|Unscreen||✅ User-friendly interface|
✅ Integration with video editing software
✅ AI video background remover
|💰 $199 – $599|
What Are the Best Community Platforms in 2023?
- Kajabi: Best online community platform for eduprenuers.
- Mighty Networks: Best for creating a white-label community and app.
- Circle: Best UX.
- Bettermode: Best for creating branded communities.
- GroupApp: Create learning-focused community spaces.
- Thinkific: Best for online courses.
- Podia: Best for online coaches.
- Disciple: Best for enterprises.
- Unscreen: Best for video creators.
The all-in-one platform for digital businesses.
Kajabi topped our list of the best online community platforms and for a good reason. It offers an all-in-one solution for digital businesses, integrating a community platform, website builder, online course creator, and email marketing system within a single platform. This eliminates the need for third-party integrations.
The Kajabi Community platform is thoughtfully designed with an intuitive user design.
Its interface shares a striking resemblance to the familiar design of Facebook Groups making it comfortable and easy to use for most users.
Within Kajabi’s Community platform, you can group similar topics using Circles and grant or restrict access using Access Groups.
The platform also features a dynamic feed, where members can find the most recent community posts.
Kajabi offers various natively built community engagement features. You can create challenges to motivate users to work toward a common goal.
Create a poll to collect members’ opinions.
And even host group chats and live events to interact with your members.
Moreover, you can post a wide range of content formats, including text, videos, images, and PDFs in your community to keep your community active.
Members can actively engage with this content through comments and reactions, enhancing a rich community interaction.
Kajabi is expensive but offers more value in every plan you choose compared to most community platforms.
Here’s a brief breakdown of Kajabi Pricing.
- Basic: $149/mon for up to 10,000 contacts
- Growth: $199/mon for up to 25,000 contacts
- Pro: $399/mon for up to 100,000 contacts
Kajabi Pros and Cons
|✅ An all-in-one solution for building communities around your digital product||❌ Expensive for starters|
|✅ Mobile apps for both members and admins||❌ Limited templates|
|✅ Automation to streamline your digital business|
|✅ Detailed analytics and reporting tools|
|✅ AI tools to help you create online courses, email copies, landing page copy, and video scripts faster|
Final Note: Kajabi is the perfect choice for creators and edupreneurs seeking an all-in-one solution to establish a thriving community and monetize it through online courses, coaching sessions, and memberships. Try Kajabi for 30 days free of charge.
2: Mighty Networks
Create a white-label online community and app.
Community-building is Mighty Network’s core functionality.
Although it does offer other tools like online course creation, it’s not as robust as specialized online course builders like Thinkific.
Mighty Networks allows you to build branded online communities that match your branding goals. You can also design a white-label mobile community app where you can offer members coaching sessions and courses.
Networks on the platform are made of Spaces, and you can organize them around a chat, event, feed, content course, and resource page for members to connect in real-time.
You can even mix and match different content types to create a space perfectly suited for your members’ needs.
For example, you can create a live cohort-based course, or a content-only course, or develop a community-based course on the same platform.
Events are a great way to bring your community together in Mighty Networks.
Members can join using the link or through the event tab and you can even livestream in specific spaces rather than your entire network.
You can further engage your communities using questions, polls, leaderboards, and member referral programs.
Unlike Kajabi, Mighty Networks doesn’t put a cap on the members you can have in your community. In all its plans you can create a community with unlimited members, hosts, and moderators.
Mighty Networks Plans and Pricing
Mighty Networks offers one of the most affordable pricing packages in the market. Its pricing package “Community” start as low as $33 per month.
This is way below compared to its competitors like Kajabi or Thinkfic. However, the downside of this plan is that it doesn’t include an online course builder, or quizzes and has limited analytics.
Here’s a breakdown of Mighty Networks’ pricing structure.
- Community: starts at $33/ month
- Business: starts at $99/ month
- Mighty Pro: contact their sales team to get a custom pricing
Mighty Networks Pros and Cons
|✅ Custom branded iOS & Android apps available in Apple Store and Google Play Store||❌ Limited templates for community design|
|✅ White-label web and app experience||❌ Transaction fees|
|✅ 14-day free trial without credit card|
|✅Supports 100+ currencies|
|✅ Strategy and migration services & support|
Final Note: Mighty Networks allows you to create a branded online community and mobile app to further engage your audience. It’s the ideal choice for creators looking to build white-label communities both on the web and on mobile. Try Might Networks for Free.
Clean and minimalistic design (Best online community platform for Creators).
Circle provides the essential tools to establish a thriving online community while offering opportunities for monetization through online courses, coaching sessions, and membership subscriptions.
However, one thing you’ll notice upon signing up for the Circle community platform is its super intuitive user interface.
The admin dashboard is thoughtfully structured with all the spaces, menus, and options strategically located on the left sidebar.
There is ample whitespace in the interface, allowing you to navigate with minimal distractions.
Circle’s online course builder is also user-friendly allowing you to organize and setup your course in sections and lessons.
Although it’s not as robust as Thinkific’s which offers a variety of online course templates Circle does allow you to add and embed different media files from third-party platforms like YouTube, Wistia, Vimeo, and Loom, among others.
Livestreams are another strong highlight of Circle. You can choose to go live immediately, schedule live events, or start live rooms.
During live sessions, you can present your screen and use the built-in chat to engage with your members. You can also record the session and share it with the attendees.
Circle.so doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to branding. The most you can do is to change the community brand color, add a logo, and community icon, and host your community on your custom domain.
For most creators that’s more than enough.
However, if you’re looking to also create a website that you can leverage as a marketing tool to convince users to join your membership you’d want to go with a more specialized option like Kajabi.
Perhaps what sets apart Circle from most community platforms is its automation workflow builder that allows you to automate tasks and deliver a personalized member experience.
For example, you can set up an automation workflow where members are automatically added to a paywall trial when they are added to a particular Space.
Circle offers four paid packages each with a 14-day free trial. The community platform also has transaction fees of 1-4% of your Paywall billings depending on the plan that you’re using.
Here’s a breakdown of the Circle’s pricing.
- Basic: costs $49 per month
- Professional: costs $99 per month
- Business: costs $219 per month
- Enterprise: costs $399 per month
Circle also offers an additional plan called Circle Plus that enables you to create a fully-branded online community app. This can come in handy for creators looking to boost engagement with mobile users.
Circle Pros and Cons
|✅ User-friendly interface||❌ Only has one template for communities|
|✅ Native live-streaming||❌ Analytics could be better|
|✅ Automation workflow builder||❌ Transaction fees|
|✅ Weekly digest feature|
|✅ 14-day free trial|
|✅ Community AI tool|
Final Note: Circle is the best community platform for creators, educators, and coaches due to its remarkable UI and functionality. Not only is it easy to use but it offers impressive features such as automation workflows and gamification that also come in handy in community management and engagement. Try Circle 14 days for free.
Best for building branded customer communities.
Bettermode (formerly Tribe.so) is an excellent choice for building branded customer communities. It’s designed for businesses looking to engage customers through online communities.
Right of the box, Bettermode offers a user-friendly interface that allows you to manage your community using Spaces, Collections, and Tags.
Spaces act as customizable containers, providing a platform to host content and connections centered around common themes or purposes.
Collections, on the other hand, enable you to group relevant Spaces together, streamlining the organization.
For instance, in the example community below, Spaces like “Knowledge Base” and “Product Updates” are conveniently grouped under the Collection “Resources.”
Bettermode offers strong branding and customization options for your online community. You can customize your Spaces icons, profile fields, typography, and colors and even host your community on your custom domain.
To further foster engagement within the community, Bettermode incorporates gamification features such as badges, points, virtual currency, and a leaderboard system.
Additionally, members can actively interact with each other’s posts by adding comments, mentions, emojis, GIFs, and more.
Analytics and reporting are areas Bettermode excels at. The platform provides granular reports about members’ activity, your community traffic, and Spaces performance.
You can also pick a timeframe on when to view the data. Generally, their reporting is easy to use even for new users.
Bettermode also integrates seamlessly with third-party apps like Zapier, Slack, and Hotjar, though the range of supported integrations is not as extensive as those from Kajabi or Thinkific.
However, if you’re a developer or have a developer on your team you can use API and webhooks to integrate your community with some applications that you’re ready to use.
Unfortunately, Bettermode doesn’t offer an inbuilt online course builder and a native live streaming capability.
This can be inconvenient for businesses looking to nurture their audience with quality courses rather than just using a community to build relationships and for customer support.
If you’re seeking an affordable community builder, Bettermode may not be the ideal choice for you.
Their starting plan the Advanced plan costs $599 per month, which is a higher price point compared to other options in the market.
However, if you are a SaaS brand looking to create a highly engaging community coupled with a strong security system and branding options you’ll what to go with Bettermode.
Bettermode also offers an Enterprise plan but you need to contact them for a price quote.
Bettermode Pros and Cons
|✅ Highly customizable and brandable||❌ Can be expensive|
|✅ SSO functionality supported||❌ Does not offer mobile apps|
|✅ Create a fully white-label online community||❌ Limited integration|
|✅ Gamification supported|
|✅ Personalized activity feed|
Final Note: Bettermode is a premium community platform with exceptional branding capabilities. It’s the ideal solution for SaaS businesses looking to create an engaging customer community, offer support, and receive feedback from their customers. Book a demo with Bettermode.
Best community platform to build learning-focused online community spaces.
Despite being a relatively new platform, GroupApp exhibits promising features that will compel you to forego well-established competitors such as Kajabi or Thinkific.
Upon signing up, you’ll be immediately drawn to GroupApp’s user-friendly and intuitive interface, catering to both administrators and members alike.
The creator’s view:
The member’s view:
When it comes to organizing your community, GroupApp uses Channels that allow you to group common topics and discussions under one common theme. You can also use Categories to group those channels under a common subject.
For added control, GroupApp enables you to set access and visibility settings for each channel. You can choose to keep a channel open for anyone to access, make it private for specific members, restrict access to paid members, or even set access based on different plan levels.
GroupApp’s online course builder is easy to use. It allows you to break down course content into easily digestible sections.
You also get a dedicated space within your community called Content Libray where you can share content with your members presented in various formats, including video, audio, PDF documents, and embedded content.
Furthermore, the Drip Schedule feature enables you to schedule content releases, enhancing engagement and facilitating a structured learning progression.
Regarding analytics, GroupApp provides only barebones metrics. You can view the number of active members, new members, post-performance, and comments.
GroupApp has three paid packages, each offering a 14-day trial period. Let’s take a look at the details of these packages:
- Basic: This plan starts at $39 per month and is suitable for communities with up to 1,000 members.
- Pro: Starting at $99 per month, the Pro plan is designed for communities with up to 10,000 members. In addition to this, it also includes advanced features such as segments and SSO support.
- Premium: The Premium plan starts at $499 per month, allowing you to create a community of up to 100,000 members. This package also offers support for API integrations and Custom OAuth (SSO).
GroupApp Pros and Cons
|✅Mobile app included||❌ Lacks live streaming capability|
|✅Intuitive online course builder||❌ Limited integrations|
|✅Drip schedule to enhance learning engagement|
|✅No transaction fees|
|✅Create unlimited courses and events|
Best free community software.
Online course creation is Thinkific bread and butter. It boasts an impressive online course builder with templates to create a mini-course, a flagship course, presells, webinar replays, and more.
Thinkific LMS comes with exciting features such as course quizzes, surveys, and drip scheduling for a comprehensive and engaging learning experience.
While it excels as an online course platform, Thinkific also offers the option to build an online community for your course students where you can engage them using discussions, live events, and posts.
Thinkific’s community platform is user-friendly allowing even a beginner to create an online community fast.
However, when compared to more advanced community builders like Bettermode and Circle, Thinkific falls short in several functionalities. Notably, it lacks native gamification and live streaming features, relying instead on third-party platforms that you can integrate via Thinkific Apps Store.
If you’re looking for an online community software platform and an outstanding online course builder Thinkific is your best choice.
Additionally, it has a generous free plan which can be useful for anyone looking to build an online community outside of Facebook Groups and monetize it via online courses and memberships.
Unlike most online community platforms, Thinkific does offer a free plan that allows you to build one community. In that community, you can create an online course, add two Spaces and have unlimited students.
Additionally, the platform does not charge any transaction fees on any of your digital product sales.
Here’s the breakdown of Thinkific paid plans.
- Basic: starts at $36 per month
- Start: starts at $74 per month
- Grow: starts at $149 per month
Thinkific Pros and Cons
|✅ A robust online course builder||❌Limited customer support for low-tier plans|
|✅ Extensive third-party integration||❌ Website builder functionality and templates could be better|
|✅ User-friendly interface|
|✅ Course templates|
|✅ No transaction fees|
Best community platform for online coaches and eduprenuers.
Podia is an all-in-one online platform for selling digital products, offering features similar to Kajabi. It encompasses a website builder, a native email marketing tool, an online course creator, and an online community platform.
I personally delved into Podia’s online community builder to assess its strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s begin by examining how Podia manages community organizations.
Right out of the box, Podia allows you to gather community discussions, topics, and posts within what they call “Topics.”
Within each topic, members can share posts in various content formats, including text, videos, images, and PDF files.
Furthermore, using its “embed” feature, you can seamlessly incorporate diverse media and content formats, such as videos, audio, forms, code snippets, and quizzes from over 1900 supported sources.
This is a super helpful feature as it enables you to share content from various platforms.
Do you have a video hosted on a third-party platform like Wistia? No worries. Want to embed a code snippet or a quiz form from platforms like Typeform? Podia has you covered..
Once content is posted, members can engage with one another through comments, likes, and mentions.
Within each community topic, you have the option to set it as open, private, or public. This flexibility is ideal for segmenting members, especially if you want to offer a mix of paid and free memberships.
You can further engage your communities through webinars, online courses, and live coaching sessions.
Much like Kajabi, Podia also features a user-friendly drag-and-drop website builder that simplifies the creation of a digital storefront for your products.
The website builder is intuitive and offers various customization options, including fonts and colors. You can easily drag and drop different page elements such as images, videos, text, opt-in forms, FAQs, testimonial boxes, and more.
Overall, I found Podia to be an appealing choice for edupreneurs and digital creators seeking a platform that extends beyond a community builder. It boasts a user-friendly website builder, a robust LMS platform, and effective email marketing tools.
Although its design is clean, I found Podia lacking in aspects like website templates, native live streaming features, and live events which may be a consideration for users with specific needs in these areas.
Podia has one of the most affordable paid plans you’ll find in any online community software platform.
- Free: includes a website builder, community, one coaching product
- Mover – costs $39 per month: includes unlimited courses and coaching
- Shaker – costs $89 per month: includes email addon, affiliates, and chat support
Podia also includes a 17% discount if you choose to pay annually.
Podia Pros and Cons
|✅ User-friendly interface||❌ No website templates|
|✅ Drag & drop website builder||❌Analytics could be better|
|✅Great content embedding tool||❌Limited customization|
|✅ Feature-rich free plan|
|✅ Coupons and upsells|
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best platform to create a community?
The best platform depends on your specific goals. If you want to create a community for digital products like online courses, Kajabi is the best solution. If you want more branding control choose Mighty Networks or Circle.so. However for general and free communities, consider Facebook Groups, Reddit, or Discord.
Why do content creators need community?
Content creators benefit from a community because it offers a direct connection with their audience. It provides a support system, and feedback, and can foster a sense of belonging, ultimately helping creators grow and improve their content.
How do I create a private online community?
To create a private online community, start by choosing a platform with privacy settings like Mighty Networks, Kajabi, or Circle. Clearly define your community’s purpose and rules. Selectively invite members or use a request/approval system to control access and maintain privacy.
What are online community platforms?
They’re software solutions used to create online communities where people with similar interests meet, connect, and build relationships together.
Can I create a community on social media?
Yes, you can create an online community on social media for free. Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Reddit provide those options. And like any other social media platform, you need to be active and engaging if you to grow it. This means always responding to comments and questions, starting conversations, and sharing relevant content.
Why is an online community important?
It helps make your brand more popular with customers and encourages positive customer experiences. You’ll also get valuable feedback on how to improve your products or services to scale your business.