If you are a fan of a particular TV show, videogame, or piece of music, you are not alone. Sites such as Youtube and Facebook have made connecting with other enthusiasts online through message boards and social networks fast and simple to do.
But there is also a beehive of activity outside the mainstream, in the wilds of chat rooms and forums that few people even know exist.
A community platform is a website that brings people with similar interests together. They can use online tools to create their content and dialogue on art, politics, and even religion.
Finding the right platform can be a great way to solve problems, share ideas, build networks and even sell products.
This article looks at the top community platforms you can use to start building your community today. Let's get right into it.
The Best Community Platforms Available Right Now
The following are the most popular community platforms that you can use to engage with like-minded people online at this moment.
Best Overall For Building A Moderated Community
Customers, superfans, and other users use Discourse to create searchable discussions that are great for idea-sharing, proof of concepts, and early access to new products.
If you want to remove email as the primary method of communication on your site, Discourse is the best choice.
Installing it on your server assigns point values to users based on their past activity and time spent on the forum. It’s intended to encourage helpful behavior to ensure that all visitors get a good experience when reading or writing posts.
Creating a self-service information center with frequent queries helps answer any previously mentioned questions.
An automated trust mechanism in Discourse allows the whole community to contribute to the growth of constructive discussion.
You may change the appearance, add your preferred services, and establish your desired community.
There are three pricing plans available
Best For Finding The Right Community Through The Use Of Keywords
Panion is a community management platform developed based on networking, mentorship, and relationship-building research.
You may use Panion to create engaging and binding communities.
This platform is ideal for matching people looking to share inspiration, knowledge, and experiences through dynamic connections that are both real-time and asynchronous.
Designed to meet the unique social problems that large groups confront today, Panion can create rich social interactions and excellent engagement.
With a few keywords, members may find individuals who share their interests or goals quickly and easily.
With lower barriers to increase trust and collaboration, members may be more proactive and spontaneous with the community.
If creating new relationships is vital to the success of your business, you should give Panion a try.
There are three pricing plans available with Panion:
Best For Providing Valuable Content To An Engaged Community
Mighty Networks offers much more than a typical community platform.
In addition, you can create internet courses, host your events, broadcast live, and charge for access as desired.
This is the most refined all-in-one platform for content producers and the market.
Mighty Networks can create, host, and distribute content engagingly and innovatively.
It helps you engage your audience wherever they are by giving them access to their favorite topics. Mighty Networks makes it possible for you to understand your users better than ever before.
The future of business is to bring people when building a brand, with your content, events, and courses accessible through the web and mobile apps, and this platform will help you achieve that.
You may use your Mighty Network to interact with your members immediately. You may also combine them for planned online and in-person gatherings.
There is also the ability to create a customized online experience with your domain name and brand across your online properties.
Similar to other platforms, there are three pricing plans available:
Both the community and business plans are billed annually.
Best For Converting An Ordinary Site To A Community
Tribe.so is an excellent platform for businesses that want to connect with others and build their brands.
The capacity to connect and delight customers is at the heart of every successful firm. Tribe allows you to do that and more.
Suppose you want to start an online community to connect people and engage your target audiences. In that case, Tribe makes it easy to build a community that's entirely yours while also creating an engaging space that captures the spirit of what's possible in the real world. And while Tribe does offer robust features like discussion boards and event planning, there are no hidden fees or complicated pricing plans.
Use the power of gamification to improve your community's or students' engagement and mastery. Automate and expand the features of your community or develop your applications.
All you need to get a thriving community is a beautiful and straightforward website, and in a couple of clicks, you can convert an ordinary site to a community in minutes.
With a free forever version, these are the pricing plans available:
Best For Providing The Right Tools For Community Moderation
Circle.so helps create a platform for member engagement, live streams, and activities.
Everything under your brand means people will trust you and keep coming back since your brand is what they know.
With Circle.so, you can build a community around any interest, be it sports, arts, or even technology. As long as you have something interesting to say about the topic, chances are there will be other enthusiasts who want to join in the conversation.
The days of needing to build many separate tools are long gone. You may integrate the thrilling, engaging qualities with your content in one easy package if you use Circle.so.
You can easily create a branded experience on Circle.so that's all your own with rich profiles.
Circle.so also takes care of all the hard work put into running a community while scaling to meet your needs by providing intuitive tools for moderators.
The following are the plans available for selection when using Circle.so:
Best For Providing An Intuitive Solution To Community Building
Disciple provides a new era of community-building tools.
With Disciple, you can quickly create a customized platform for your organization or brand that meets needs and reflects your style. Its powerful combination of creative tools lets you quickly bring people together through shared interests or goals.
You can keep more control over your audience and see better results from your community-driven activities by having a platform built specifically for your organization.
Users can quickly generate income by selling e-books, membership subscriptions, and unique material that will help grow the community.
The intuitive management Console allows you to post content, manage members, and analyze your community.
On Web and mobile (both iOS and Android), create your platform with the options you want, and start engaging with your community today.
The pricing plans vary depending on the interface that you use, as follows:
What Are Community Platforms?
Community platforms are online applications that function as a hub for people with similar interests. It provides its members the chance to interact and engage through forums, discussion boards, or even news.
Many still think that community building is what we used to do in the past by paper-based newsletters and face-to-face meet-ups. But in this digital age, everything is faster and more convenient thanks to tools that help create a community online.
In the past, when we wanted to create a newsletter or a calendar for a club or organization, we would have to design one from scratch using an HTML editor and send out hard copies via snail mail. We don't even want to imagine how time-consuming it was before.
With online community platforms, we no longer have to spend hours creating banners and logos while designating roles for board members. With the help of these tools, it's possible to create communities instantly.
What Are The Benefits Of Having An Online Community Platform?
Online community software offers various community features to help your organization and community members grow. Let's have a look at these benefits.
Manage Your Audience Easily
The best online community you can manage easily is why many organizations are shifting to online community platforms for their memberships.
With one of these tools, you can look at your registered users and see who is new, change their avatar, and even send out reminders via email or text message.
You won't have to spend hours analyzing data just to find out how engaged your members are on the website because these tools will provide you with all that information in just a snap.
Customize Your Platform
We know you want a community platform built just for your organization, and many online tools let you do that.
Have you seen websites with the same themes or layout as yours? With these tools, you can override all platform defaults to better fit your brand image and website style by using an XML file. Or hire a developer who will create a new theme from scratch.
In addition, the best online community platform is one that allows flexibility when it comes to customizability, which includes the option to embed apps (such as social media feeds) and add widgets in your community portal.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
With more people using smartphones for almost everything, including looking up information about their favorite organizations or memberships, it's essential to create a community that is easily accessible through mobile devices.
That's why many online platforms are now responsive, so you don't have to go out of the portal when you want to check something on your phone.
Online communities that can be accessed on the go increase community engagement and satisfaction of members because they can chat or make a post whenever and wherever they'd like.
Easily Measure Member Engagement
It's essential to track your progress as an organization and how engaged your community is, which is why you should always look for online tools that provide detailed analytics.
With these tools at hand, you can quickly figure out how often members are participating in the community by looking at unique users, active users, page views per visit, bounce rate, referral traffic sources, etc.
The best online community platforms give you the right analytics in an easy-to-understand format that will allow you to take the necessary steps in making your online community a success.
Keep Members Informed
An online platform that provides easy-to-understand activity streams lets members know what's going on in the community without having to dig through emails or other social media websites for updates.
This is why these tools make it possible for communities to create their blog. Like email, activity feeds will notify members when someone comments, likes, or shares something from the platform.
In addition, if your organization needs a tool that allows it to provide support and FAQs, then an online community should also have this feature so your team doesn't have to spend hours replying to questions via email or instant messaging.
Custom Domain And Branding
A community form linked with your website allows you to use a unique domain and branding separate from the main site. With one of these tools, you'll have complete control over what appears on the community portal instead of having to use a subdomain or other address that isn't too user-friendly.
A customizable community platform lets you create a unique and user-friendly link that can better brand your organization, which is why it's so important to look for these tools when choosing the best online community.
Interactivity And Integration With Other Apps
An online tool should be as interactive as possible to keep members engaged because this will encourage them to come back to the community more often.
That's why all of these features are now standard: profile pages complete with photos, videos, and backgrounds; avatars; comments; likes; social media feeds; polls and surveys, etc.
In addition, a robust directory gives users a chance to find each other by interest or location - which is priceless when trying to connect like-minded people around a universal cause.
One of the best ways to keep members interested in participating is to allow them to integrate their favorite apps right into the community platform. This is why many of these tools have a widget feature that lets you add everything from social media feeds and photo slideshows to polls and event calendars.
Share Information Easily
One of the most important goals in any organization is creating cohesion among its members while accomplishing shared goals. What better way to share this goal than through their newsletter containing updates about events and other announcements?
The best online community solutions allow users to create a newsletter within minutes, which they can then distribute through the platform or via email to all of their contacts.
In addition, newsletter templates and a drag-and-drop interface make it easy for anyone in the community to keep track of updates - so no one has an excuse not to participate. And after content goes live on the site, members will be notified through activity feeds, so there's no reason anyone should miss out on any important news or announcements from the organization.
Online communities need robust search features because some like to gather new information while others like to hang onto what they've already learned over time.
The best online platforms provide both options, which let people access everything from articles and documents to files and images.
Giving easy-to-understand search features as part of a community form will help the entire community to feel empowered, which is why filters are now crucial to making it easier for people to find what they're looking for even if they can't remember the exact thing they’re looking for.
Filters enable them to sort information according to the subject, content type, and other parameters - so whatever their reason for logging into the community portal, there will be a fast way for them to get answers or share knowledge with others.
The best community platform gives your organization or business the most control with minimal restriction because these tools will help you grow and thrive.
While free solutions might tempt many, they should never forget that nothing is ever wholly free - especially when it comes to online community platforms. When choosing one of these tools, look for options like robust security features, customizable branding, photo sharing, and an easy-to-use publishing system that lets you create newsletters at any time.
Remember that taking care of your people will allow you to reap the rewards to build a stronger community that will bring success to everyone.
Community-based businesses require a community built to support the company - so when choosing an online platform, consider all of your options.
Keep reading on MikeVestil.com: Want to learn about another great way to deliver value to your community?Check out my post on the best webinar software to learn how such a channel can help you deliver the right information to your target audience.