Editors Rating: 9.3 /10
Editors Rating: 8.9 /10
Best For Courses
Editors Rating: 8.7 /10
Did you know that SaaS businesses with thriving online community platforms generate more top-line revenue and growth than those without one?
57% of marketing and community leaders say that they gain a crystal clear competitive advantage and increased retention rates! 1https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314174120_The_Business_Impact_Of_Online_Communities
Without community-building, your business could be facing stagnation, missed opportunities, and exponential growth of your competitors.
But don’t panic, because I’ve got you covered. As an experienced content creator and SEO coach in a thriving community for bloggers, I’m here to guide you through the maze!
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The best community platforms on the market
- What makes online community brands stand out from each other
- How to choose the right one for your business’s unique needs
- The different types of online community platforms that exists
Let’s dive in and discover what the best online community platforms are!
What I look For In An Online Community Platform
|User Interface||Clean Dashboard, Minimal Disturbance, Clear Navigation, Search Bar|
|Engaging Chat Area||Easy Overview, Gifs and Emojis, Social Signals, Likes or Upvotes|
|Direct Messages||Built-in DM Feature, Share Content or Attachments, Member Directory|
|Course Content Section||Video Material Integrated With The Platform, Seamless Experience|
|Analytics||Member Growth Metrics, Active Members, Daily Activity Tracker|
|Gamification||Personalised Engagement, Different Tiers, Access To Exclusive Content|
Online Community Platforms Ranked & Reviewed
- Best overall online community platform – Skool
- Best face-to-face community platform – StoryPrompt
- Best free online community platform – Thinkific
- Best for online learning – Mighty Networks
- Best for customization options – BetterMode
- Best social media style community platform- Circle
Comparison of The Best Online Community Platforms
|Skool||All-in-one, easy to use, course content, calendars, DM’s, gamification||$99/month||–||14-day free trial|
|StoryPrompt||Video DM’s, face-to-face group hangouts, video testimonials, works asynchronously||Starts at $39/month||Get two month’s free with annual purchase||Limited free account available|
|Thinkific||Drag-and-drop interface, create and sell courses, customizable templates, quizzes, and surveys||Starts at $36/month||Save 25% with an annual plan||Free plan available with limited features|
|Mighty Networks||Branded community spaces, create and sell courses or memberships, white-label option||Starts at $33/month||Get two month’s free with annual purchase||14-day free trial|
|BetterMode||Customizable community platform, premade templates, build unique communities||Starts at $599/month||–||14-day free trial|
|Circle||Professional and easy-to-use interface, limitless use cases||Starts at $39/month||–||14-day free trial|
What Are The Best Online Community Platforms?
Ditch the old Facebook groups and go for a custom solution made for your online business.
I’ve ranked and reviewed the best of the best to bring you my rundown of the top online community management platforms on the market.
1. Skool – Best Overall Online Community Platform
Editors Rating: 9.3 /10
Why I Picked It
As a content creator, building an online community is essential for growing your audience and retaining customers in the long run.
I’m currently managing an online community of over 2,000 students inside of Skool called Blog Growth Engine, so I have personal experience of how it works.
Skool.com is definitely one of the most valuable online community platforms available today, which is both easy to use and feature-rich!
This online community platform offers a space for creators of all kinds to connect, collaborate and grow together. It’s designed with creators in mind but works great for small to mid-sized businesses alike.
Skool.com offers features that make it easy to share your work, receive feedback and build a thriving community that loves to hang out.
It’s a great tool to serve up and complement an online course, and has everything you need to build a tightly-knitted online community around your product to get the ball rolling.
Overall, I highly recommend Skool as a reliable and user-friendly option for small to medium-sized online communities.
- Easy-to-use platform with a user-friendly interface
- Affordable and fixed monthly price with unlimited members
- Enough customization options
- Fast-growing platform
- Great customer support
- No mobile app
- Lacks video hosting and a checkout system
Setting up my community on Skool.com is a breeze. The platform provides a simple yet detailed onboarding process that allows me to customize various settings and choose which features I would like to enable for my community.
Skool offers an all-in-one solution for businesses, with features like messaging, file sharing, and calendar booking for video calls and event management. This means that you no longer have to use multiple tools to manage your community or your product offer.
I love how easy it is to customize the look and feel of my Skool community. Easily upload your company’s logo, choose a color scheme, or add custom images for your online course section.
Skool.com’s integrated DM feature lets community members connect directly with each other. You can easily share attachments, screenshots and links with your students.
Skool has a built-in gamification feature that awards points for active community members.
As your students level up by commenting, liking and being helpful to others, they unlock new rewards. You can decide what those rewards are and set it up easily.
2. StoryPrompt – Best face-to-face community platform
Editors Rating: 8.9 /10
Why I Picked It
StoryPrompt is a new video engagement platform that provides a way to build deeper relationships via face-to-face video conversations!
Connect with your customers using asynchronous video and free up your time without having to be on Zoom all day. It’s perfect for coaching businesses, sales enablement, agencies, and more.
If you use a lot of video to build community engagement and customer loyalty then StoryPrompt will be a real timesaver. The video recording tools are really nice and easy to use.
However, if you’re looking for other in-depth community features such as text-based private messaging, forums, course hosting, and more, you will find this platform somewhat limited.
- Exchange interactive video messages with your clients
- Capture customer stories to use as video testimonials
- All videos are full captioned and transcribed
- Works asynchronously wherever your respondents are
- Good visual design
- Fewer core features compared to some competitors
- Still a new platform so not many know about it
- Some users on G2 gave lower ratings for confusing features
Client testimonials are vital for convincing leads to buy and there’s nothing more genuine or convincing than a video testimonial.
StoryPrompt allows you to collect video testimonials by sending a link out to your clients. Each client gets a series of prompts that guides them on what to cover and when. You can even include a script for them to follow.
Then, you receive a fully produced video back which you can embed on your WordPress website or social media posts.
Scale Your Coaching Business
Coaching individuals takes up masses of time however, StoryPrompt allows you to serve ten times the amount of clients without having to sit on Zoom all day.
Create gated spaces, premium masterminds, and exclusive groups to upload your videos to and serve more people without spending any extra time doing so.
To add even more value, you can build dedicated community spaces, campfire discussions, and video recap sections.
- Free plan: Up to 25 video responses and limited features
- Starter plan: $49/mo or $39/mo paid annually: 200 video responses, watermark-free
- Pro plan: $99/mo or $79/mo paid annually: 800 video responses, zapier integration
- Premium plan: $149/mo or $124/mo paid annually: Unlimited everything and white labeling
3. Thinkific – Best free online community platform
Editors Rating: 8.7 /10
Why I Picked It
Thinkific is another platform based around online courses and their membership bases.
Its plans are packed full of tools to help you create appealing courses as well as all the community features required to develop devoted audiences.
What’s neat is that Thinkific has a dedicated app store, so if you want to customize your offering and use bulk emails, additional communication channels, and other sales tools, you can find the app you want and add it.
A lot of them are free too.
- Control and customize training courses and sales pages with templates
- Integrate tools like email automation and lead conversion via Thinkific App store
- Build engaged communities with discussion spaces, member profiles, live events, and comment threads
- Create multi-page websites to market products and convert leads
- Thinkific’s pricing can be expensive, especially for users who need access to advanced features as they grow
- The course builder can feel limited in functionality
- Free plan doesn’t include custom domain branding
Comprehensive Learning Center
Most platforms have a knowledge base but they tend to only cover how to use the tools. Thinkific is different. It has an entire academy that not only teaches you how to use the platform but how to leverage it to gain success, sales , and build engaged community forums.
There’s tons of valuable training material on there as well as top-class customer support. So, if you’re new or need a helping hand to boost your member base, you’ve got all the expert knowledge you need at your fingertips.
Generous Free Plan
Thinkific has a generous free plan that has everything you need to kick off without any kind of investment (or credit card details).
Okay so you’re limited to one course and one community but, you can add unlimited members, enjoy 0% transaction fees on sales, have access to email and chat bot support, plus access all the Thinkific building tools and integrated E-commerce.
- Free plan: One course and basic features
- Basic plan: $49/mo or $36/ mo paid annually: Unlimited courses, five community spaces
- Start plan: $99/mo or $74/mo paid annually: Unlimited courses, ten community spaces
- Grow plan: $199/mo or $149/mo paid annually: Unlimited courses, three communities with 20 spaces
Thinkific Platform Reviews
Reviews state that this is an excellent platform for hosting courses and audience building. Customers especially love the customization options and the excellent user-experience it provides.
Is Thinkific worth it?
If you’re an entrepreneur but reluctant to invest money into a new venture then Thinkific is ideal. The free plan allows you to get off the ground and once you’re established, you can upgrade to a paid plan or add on apps.
The sheer amount of tools and add-ons make this course management system sufficient for seasoned pros but simple and supportive enough for beginners.
There’s nothing to lose, upload your first course for free today.
4. Mighty Networks – Best online Learning platform
Editors Rating: 8.5 /10
Why I Picked It
Mighty Networks allows you to create a large variety of content and includes all the features you need to monetize and scale your online course business.
Not only does it give platform admins the opportunity to build and host your courses, memberships, and subscriptions, the platform enables you to build a thriving community around them.
With articles, video, discussion forums, plus a social network-like activity feed, your community members will be able to interact and chat all within the membership site.
- Build a community culture with articles, video & chat
- Create stunning landing pages and sales pages to attract members
- Sell individual courses or bundle them into subscriptions
- Students can get access via the app or online
- Suitable for building communities and courses
- Lacks native support for regular video and live video
- Course builder lacks features like quizzes and certificates
- Charges a transaction fees and doesn’t support PayPal
Full White Label Capabilities With Mighty Pro
If you’ve built something incredible then you don’t want it to be branded with another company’s logo. With the Mighty Pro plan, you get your very own iOS and Android app that has all your brand elements included.
This includes branded app notifications, a white-labeled website plus additional strategy and migrations services as well as top-notch support.
With Mighty Pro, you can give customers an experience that is authentically you.
Landing and Sales Pages
Most community and course hosting platforms require the use of third-party apps to build funnels and sales pages. With Mighty Networks, you have the ability to create all your sales tools within the same platform.
Create beautiful looking landing pages and sales pages with call to action buttons and prompts to quickly convert leads into sales.
Do it safely in the knowledge that you don’t have to deal with any third-party integration issues or connectivity problems.
Mighty Networks pricing
- Community plan: $39/mo or $33/mo paid annually: Live Streaming, chat & memberships
- Business plan: $119/mo or $99/mo paid annually: Online course, analytics & Zapier
- Mighty Pro: Custom pricing: White labeled app and platform
Give the platform a whirl with a 14-day free trial.
Mighty Networks Reviews
Customers love that you can run your community, host your courses, and design your sales material and workflows all from one platform.
Many have been with Mighty Networks for years and it is popular with nonprofits which is testament to the platform’s power.
Is Mighty Networks worth it?
If you’re in the course creation and hosting game then you can’t get better than Mighty Networks. It’s super comprehensive and all of its features and tools are user friendly and intelligent.
The white labeled app and website feature on the pro plan also allows you to scale your business without having to switch platforms which I think is ultra convenient.
Want to try before you buy? Check out the Mighty Networks free 14-day trial.
5. Bettermode – Best customization options
Editors Rating: 8.1 /10
Why I Picked It
Businesses that want to build brand communities need Bettermode (formerly Tribe). The cloud-based fully customizable platform allows you to create sub-groups and spaces for different discussion points and subjects.
Bettermode is especially effective at facilitating customer service, feedback forums, and education all from a single sign on. Plus you have access to detailed analytics and metrics to see how the forum software is performing.
- Fully customizable, white-labeled platform
- Bettermode integrates with various tools such as Telegram, Google Analytics, SSO, and Zapier
- Create spaces to encourage customer community engagement
- Gain detailed customer feedback and requests to drive innovation
- Easy platform functionality with no coding knowledge required
- Embeddable third-party apps and widgets for additional tools and features
- Hard to justify the pricing compared to the competition
- Clearly made for enterprise companies only
Automated Moderation Tool
Forum and discussion moderation takes up more time than you realize. However, it’s necessary to keep communities safe from trolling, offensive language, and other undesirable behavior.
Bettermode allows you to implement a number of automation and detection tools that take care of the bulk of moderation without you needing to lift a finger.
Total white-label capabilities mean you can change the colors, text, fonts, style, and branding to suit your brand aesthetic. Along with a custom domain, the platform will look and feel like your business developed it.
Plus, you have a range of additional apps that you can use to enhance your professional networks and increase their capabilities. For example, you can integrate Slack, Zapier, Zendesk, and more.
- Advance plan: From $599/mo: Advanced apps and tools for growing brands and companies
- Enterprise plan: Price on request, for large businesses and regulated industries
Customers love Bettermode and think it feels like an exclusive social media site with endless customization options. They also notice a significant increase in customer engagement since launching the online community software.
Is Bettermode worth it?
There’s no doubt that Bettermode has everything required for a fully-branded, engaging experience to reach a businesses target audience and grow brand loyalty.
However, given the high fee, it’s not for small or new businesses. Bettermode is clearly geared towards established, larger brands that have the available cash to splash on an all-in-one community platform.
Before you commit, why not see if Tribe. is for you with a 14-day free trial?
6. Circle – social media style community platform
Editors Rating: 7.9 /10
Why I Picked It
Circle has everything you need to build engaged communities. Thanks to its intuitive, social media style platform, customers can chat, discuss, and interact with ease.
Host course, host large, small and somewhere in-between live events, increase community monetization with flexible payments, upsell, and cross sell features.
- Community, course, and content management all in one place
- Private spaces for organized discussions and chat rooms for open conversation
- Course hosting with paid memberships and subscriptions
- SSO capability
- 1000’s of integration and plugin options available
- Fully brandable platform
- Live stream, direct message, and rich post with ease
- Lacks in the department of creating courses
- Managing videos can be slow
- Becomes more expensive as you grow your online community
Live Room Update
Earlier in 2022 Circle announced a live stream tool to broadcast live events however customer feedback found that people wanted smaller, more intimate live sessions.
So, they have now introduced Circle Live Rooms that offer a Zoom style video experience to interact with small groups, 1:1 sessions, etc. This feature is perfect for real-time feedback, masterminds, fireside chats, and discussion.
Excellent Engagement Tools
You have a crazy amount of engagement tools at your disposal. From group chat rooms, live streams, event broadcasting to private and direct messaging, events spaces and weekly digests. Circle has it all.
Everything is easily accessible and viewable from the users feed so they can see what’s going on and join in.
- Basic plan: $49/mo or $39/mo paid annually: All core features
- Professional plan: $99/mo or $89/mo paid annually: Core features plus courses and white labeling
- Enterprise: $399/mo or $360/mo paid annually: All features plus premium support
Is Circle worth it?
If you’re looking for something that looks and feels like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc then you’ll love Circle. The platform is laid out and performs just like a social media site which makes it more efficient at driving customer engagement.
It’s affordable too, so it doesn’t require a massive investment. I think this is a good choice for smaller businesses and young, trendy startups.
Get started for free with a 14-day trial.
Alternative Online Community Platforms
There are a bunch of other online community platforms that unfortunately didn’t make it on to the list for now.
- Higher Logic
- Vanilla Forums
They are still worth checking out if you couldn’t find the perfect fit.
What is an online community platform?
Online community platforms are designed specifically for businesses and brands who want to strengthen customer relationships, drive engagement, and nurture leads.
The platforms allow a variety of methods and use cases to create communities such as live streaming, course hosting, chat forums, and support.
How do I choose an online community platform?
When considering which online community platform to go for, you must keep in mind that their features and tools differ by quite a degree. A platform that’s a perfect fit for one type of business may be wrong for yours.
Therefore, take the time to research and consider these three factors.
1. Your Goals
Before setting up an online community, you must first understand what you hope to get out of it. Is it providing additional value to existing customers? Or, are you trying to boost your customer base?
Once you understand your goals, it makes it easier to determine which platform will help fulfill them.
2. The Cost
The cost of online community platforms varies wildly. And, since most businesses are on a budget, you don’t want to end up paying over the odds for features you don’t need.
Determine what your budget for a community platform will be and find one that fits within it. If you’re unsure, most platforms offer a free trial or limited free plan so you can try before you buy.
3. The Available Features
The features differ wildly from platform to platform and you must find one that aligns with your goals.
For example, a livestream feature is perfect if you want to connect more with your customer base, whereas course hosting could be great if you want to convert leads.
Skool – Best Overall Online Community Platform
Editors Rating: 9.3 /10
About the author, Chris