An online community platform is a website or software application that allows users to create and manage an online community, typically for the purpose of sharing ideas, collaborating, and building relationships. Online communities can be used for a variety of purposes, such as professional networking, hobbyist groups, or simply as a way for friends and family to stay connected.
In the digital age, building and maintaining an online community is more important than ever. From forums and message boards to social networks and messaging apps, there are a wide variety of platforms available for bringing people together and fostering meaningful connections. But with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which platform is the best fit for your needs.
In this blog, we'll introduce you to the top online community-building platforms for 2023, highlighting their key features and functionality to help you choose the right one for your community. Whether you're looking to create a small group of friends or a large, global network, these platforms have everything you need to build and manage a thriving online community.
Community Platforms vs Team Collaboration Platforms
Users might agree that there are striking similarities between community platforms and team collaboration platforms. Both of these platforms encourage features such as Q&A, team participation, and communication. While they may seem somewhat similar, the major difference between them is that while Collaboration Platforms focus on one-on-one communication and projects, and productivity, Community Platforms highlight one-to-many communication and help users in engagement and feedback.
Why are online community-building platforms important?
Online community-building platforms are important because they allow individuals and groups to connect with each other, share ideas and resources, and collaborate on projects or initiatives. These platforms provide a space for people to come together and discuss common interests, exchange information and support, and engage in a meaningful way.
These platforms can be used to build support networks, exchange ideas and information, and share resources. They can also be a source of support and encouragement for individuals who may feel isolated in their offline lives. In addition, online communities can help to promote a sense of belonging and can foster a sense of community and connection among their members. Ultimately, online community-building platforms can help to build stronger, more vibrant communities and facilitate positive social change.
Things to consider before joining an online community platform
Here are some things you might consider before joining an online community platform:
Determine the purpose of the community: What is the purpose of the community you are considering joining? Is it for professional networking, to discuss a particular topic or hobby, or just for socializing? Understanding the purpose of the community will help you decide if it is a good fit for you.
Research the community: Look into the history and reputation of the community. What are its size and demographics? How active is it? What are the rules and guidelines for participation? You can often find this information on the community's website or by reading reviews or articles about it.
Consider your own goals: Think about what you hope to get out of joining the community. Do you want to make new friends, learn something new, or share your expertise with others? Consider whether the community can help you achieve these goals.
Evaluate the community's culture: Each online community has its own culture, so it's important to consider whether you will feel comfortable participating in the community. Consider whether the community's values and norms align with your own.
Online reputation: Keep in mind that anything you post in an online community becomes a part of your online reputation. Consider whether you are comfortable with this level of transparency and whether you want to be associated with the community long-term.
Top online community-building platforms for 2023
Here we discuss and compare some of the most popular community-building platforms, to help you create your online community, and keep engaged with activities and sessions.
|Best For||Community Platform for Corporations|
Bettermode formerly Tribe Community Platform, is a comprehensive community platform that enables you to combine your knowledge base, FAQs and resource center in one spot, helping to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. People are drawn to its extensive customization options, ready-to-use templates, apps, and widgets that can be embedded. It is a powerful online community platform that you can integrate with the existing software that you use, to enhance user engagement, retain customers and improve their lifetime value. You can create an integrated community website and enable user discussion Q&A, along with other community features such as likes, upvotes, and shares. You can also use widgets as social components in your applications through APIs. Moreover, with the help of automation tools, grow organically and deliver the best customer support.
Features Offered by Bettermode
- Widgets help you embed valuable components, while an extensive API helps manage and monitor activity in your community.
- ML-trained activity feed helps you with rewards and virtual currency, app extensions and community tools, and smart targeting.
- Robust gamification helps in audience engagement through incentives and credits, by giving your community members points and badges.
- Bettermode, with the goal of bringing communities together, helps you connect with Pipedrive, Decathlon, IBM, Top Hat, Monument, and other global communities.
- App integrations include Messenger, Google Analytics, Social Login, Virtual Currency, Slack, and Firebase among many others.
- Customizable templates
- Single sign-on
- Smart analytics
- Leaderboard to build healthy competition
- Simple interface
- Various Integration option
- Demo is available
- Limited customization option
Pricing for Bettermode
|Advanced plan||Enterprise plan|
|Costs $599 per month||Custom Price|
|Built for growing brands and companies||Built for large businesses or those in regulated industries|
|Features included: Advanced apps, Customer success manager, Staging environment, etc.||Features included: Enterprise-grade security, Data residency, Audit and activity log, etc.|
|Best For||Businesses, associations, non-profits, creators, and more.|
Crowdstack is an easy-to-use online community and membership platform built to engage, maintain and expand your audience. Crowdstack is essentially an extension of your original website and works as a social community for your audience to help you grow. It allows you to set your own engagement rule and keep your content to yourself, along with offering you a cohesive experience for easy management and customization. Moreover, with User Generated Marketing (UGM), effortlessly increase your user base in the most cost-effective way possible, and use your existing customer base to enhance your SEO.
Features Offered by Crowdstack
- Offers efficient member management where you can keep your audience engaged with blogs, surveys, resources, and status updates.
- Have any number of subgroups you prefer, for different discussion segments and enable all kinds of topics based on calendar events.
- Automation helps you build customizable workflows, review content, send emails, congratulate members, and a lot of other stuff.
- Crowdstack offers compliance with international security standards for data privacy, making sure the data of users stays where it should.
- Premium membership allows you to monetize your community at Crowdstack, by designating premium features to generate revenue.
- Free trial without credit card details
- Membership system to monetize the community
- Customizable workflow
- Single sign-on
- Knowledge base and tutorials to learn
- Advanced reporting and integration
- Only email support is available
- Poor user interface
Pricing for Crowdstack
|Midstack plan||Fullstack plan||Enterprise plan|
|Costs $999.00 per month||Costs $1,499.00 per month||Custom pricing based on features|
|Contains all essential features such as surveys, custom activity points, resources and more||Contains all essential features such as subgroups, single sign on (SSO), custom wording, email members and more.||Contains additional business features, SLA, training, hosting options, and more.|
3. Website Toolbox
|Best For||Creating community forum|
Website Toolbox offers users one of the easiest ways to create a forum in a few steps. No need for coding, software, or servers. It allows you to choose from a collection of themes and integrate the applications or even go stand-alone. Integrations that Website Toolbox offers include Wix, WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace among others. You can then earn in different ways including advertisements, subscription-based plans, and even accepting donations and getting sponsors.
Features Offered by Website Toolbox
- Attract more audience by embedding the latest discussion topics in your website, and add videos, photos, and files in your forums to keep your audience engaged.
- Customize your community forum with your logo and branding, domain name, and website layout, and customize themes to match your branding style.
- The website offers various integrations such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and enables Single Sign-On for your audience for easy access.
- Show ads from Google Adsense, charge a subscription-based fee/one-time fee from your audience for premium content and monetize your forum.
- You can also export your forum and choose to do what you intend with your data and get insights from an intuitive dashboard in real time.
- Anti-spam protection
- Personalized branding
- 14-day free trial
- Approval of posts and replies before it goes live
- User-friendly interface
- Accessible on any devices
- Plan is based on page views
- Phone support is available in the growth plan
Pricing for Website Toolbox
|Starter plan||Growth plan||Pro plan|
|Costs $39 per month with a saving of 15% at annual payment||Costs $99 per month with a saving of 15% at annual payment||Costs $299 per month with a saving of 15% at annual payment|
|Offers up to 10k page views per month and 10GB of storage capacity||Offers up to 100k page views per month and 20GB of storage capacity||Offers over 500k page views per month and 100GB of storage capacity|
|Charges 2.9% of transaction fee and offers chat and email support||Offers all amenities of starter plan and charges 1.9% transaction fee||Offers all amenities of growth plan and charges 0.9% transaction fee|
|Offers website integrations and allows for file sharing and displaying own advertisements||Offers phone support, AI moderation, and instant messaging||Offers priority support with service level agreement|
|Offers spam protection without Website Toolbox branding||Offers live chat rooms, push notifications, and APIs and webhooks||Pro plan comes with custom development for additional features|
4. Glue Up
|Best For||Associations and Chambers of Commerce worldwide|
Glue Up is a comprehensive CRM system to manage events, memberships, and other digital services from one place, enabling you to develop and foster your community. Glue Up is the software you can use to grow your community and pace up networking. When innovative networking meets powerful solutions, your community grows more than you anticipate. Glue Up offers you an event, community, and membership management suite, so you can separately and seamlessly manage all the aspects of an interactive community, and keep your audience engaged along with attracting even more of them.
Features Offered by Glue Up
- The built-in CRM helps you with customer engagement and contact management, so you can generate more revenue.
- Plan and organize events, both online and offline, including workshops and webinars with an automated events platform.
- Email campaigns and marketing to promote/advertise your community or welcome new members are easily customizable, with metrics analysis to monitor campaigns.
- Collaborate across teams and automate manual tasks so you can be more focused on more important things at hand.
- Communicate with your community and keep them in the loop 365 days a year, to engage and spark discussions and help businesses.
- The mobile app is available
- Email campaign
- Public and private groups
- Custom privacy settings
- One-on-one chat
- Roles and permission
- Inbuilt CRM for community members
- Price is not disclosed
- Free trial is not available
Pricing for Glue Up
Request a quote from its official website to get pricing plans for Glue Up's Community Management Suite.
|Best For||Knowledge Base, Q&A, and Discussions in a single hub|
Forumbee offers a comprehensive cloud-based community forum and knowledge base system. It is built for engaging your customers and scaling your product support with the help of an online community. Customer support and smart self-service help you empower your audience, while employee community also helps with better collaboration and employee engagement. Moreover, with a simple cloud-based platform and interface, Forumbee is highly customizable, where you can conduct discussion forums, Q&A sessions, knowledge base, ideation, and much more.
Features Offered by Forumbee
- Create an easy-to-participate discussion forum and allow file sharing, highlight contributions, and create member profiles for better community building.
- Peer-to-peer Q&A sessions by category and tags help you engage your audience and also find effective answers at the same time.
- You can also create a knowledge base to create content to help customers find quick answers, and also organize your content with team contribution.
- Find creative product ideas from your customers and keep them in the loop to discover popular feedback, keeping them engaged.
- Forumbee offers an intuitive interface that is efficient and manageable, with powerful tools to keep the audience engaged and automated welcome messages.
- 30-day free trial
- Mobile responsive knowledge base
- Social media integration
- Analytics and Reporting
- Peer-to-peer discussion
- Interactive and modern UI
- No live support
Pricing for Forumbee
|Premium Plan||Enterprise Plan||Custom Plan|
|Costs $250||Costs $750||Custom pricing for enterprise plan|
|Allows for 5 admin users and 5000 members||Allows for 20 admin users and 20000 members||Custom number of admins, members and page views|
|Allows for 300k monthly views and comes with all the basic features||Allows for 1 million monthly views and offers SSO and Okta||Allows multiple communities and account customizations|
|Comes with standard email support||Comes with a dedicated success manager||Custom plan offers implementation services and training|
|Best For||Best Overall Community Platform Builder|
|Free||Free Trial and Free Plan|
Thinkific is an online community that provides a platform for educators, entrepreneurs, and professionals to create and sell courses and memberships. through Thinkific, users can share their knowledge, expertise, and passion with others, while also generating income and growing their businesses.
It is designed to help educators, entrepreneurs, and businesses create and deliver online learning experiences to their students or customers. Thinkific provides numerous tools and features for creating and hosting online courses, including video hosting, course creation tools, quiz and assessment tools, and a customizable landing page for each course.
Features offered by Thinkific
- A range of tools and resources for creating and managing courses.
- A support network of experts and peers to help users.
- Discussion forums and quizzes to interact with learners and keep them engaged with the course material.
- It includes marketing and sales tools, such as email marketing integrations, coupons, and discounts.
- E-commerce to sell your products online to your community members with ease.
- Simple to create a course and customize the template by drag-and-drop editing.
- Assignments, quizzes, exams, and certificates to measure the performance of the community members.
- Everything is customizable as per the brand
- Easy to set up
- Website builder to build a website
- Multiple payment options
- Flexible pricing
- Interactive and easy-to-use interface
- Limited integration option
- Course templates are limited
Pricing for Thinkific
|Free Plan||Basic Plan||Start Plan||Grow Plan|
|Costs $0 per month||Costs $49 per month||Costs $99 per month||Costs $199 per month|
|Allow 1 community||Allow 1 community||Allow 1 community||Allow 3 communities|
|Allows 2 spaces per community||Allows 5 spaces per community||Allows 10 spaces per community||Allows 20 spaces per community|
|Best For||Oldest and Most Popular Online Community Platform|
Discourse is an online community platform that allows users to engage in discussions, share ideas and knowledge, and collaborate with one another on a variety of topics. It is a place where people from all walks of life can come together to exchange information and engage in meaningful conversations.
The platform is designed to facilitate open and respectful communication, encouraging users to express themselves in a thoughtful and respectful manner. It is often used by organizations, groups, and individuals to create a central hub for discussion and interaction. It can be customized to suit the needs of a particular community.
Features offered by Discourse
- It is open-source software, which means that it is freely available for anyone to use and modify.
- Highly extensible with a large number of plugins and integrations available to add additional functionality.
- Real-time notification whenever someone comments on your post, mentions you and quotes your post.
- One-click upgrade whenever the latest version arrives.
- A long list of integration options including Slack, Telegram, Zendesk, Discord, and much more.
- Whenever you paste any link to discourse, its automatic link-expanding feature expands the link to provide additional information.
- There is a separate summarize button to simplify the long-form content into interesting short summaries.
- Mobile-responsive design
- Support for a wide range of media types
- 14-day free trial on a paid plan
- iOS and android app is available
- Spam blocking
- Single sign-on
- Consume more server resources
- Free plan is not available
Pricing for Discourse
|Basic Plan||Standard Plan||Business Plan||Enterprise Plan|
|Costs $25 per month||Costs $100 per month||Costs $300 per month||Custom Plans|
|Includes 5 admins & moderators||Includes 5 admins & moderators||Includes 5 admins & moderators||Includes Unlimited admins & moderators|
|50k monthly page views||100k monthly page views||500k monthly page views||3M+ monthly page views|
8. Mighty Networks
|Best For||Easy-to-Use Community Platform|
Mighty Networks is a platform for creating and managing online communities and membership sites. It allows you to bring together people with shared interests and create a space for them to connect, communicate, and engage with each other.
You can also use the platform to offer courses, events, and other premium content to your members, and charge for access if desired. It is designed to be flexible and scalable, so you can create and grow a community of any size. This allows community creators to not only bring together like-minded individuals but also generate revenue from their passions and expertise.
Features offered by Mighty Networks
- Provides different options for community creators to monetize their community, including subscription fees, paid courses, and merchandise sales.
- Offers tools for creating and distributing content, such as blogs, articles, videos, and more.
- Provides tools for building email lists and sending newsletters to community members.
- Allows users to track and analyze key metrics, such as engagement, retention, and revenue.
- Integrates with various third-party tools and platforms, such as payment processors, CRMs, and social media networks.
- Offers a range of customization options, including branding, design, and layout, to help users create a unique and personalized experience for their community members.
- iOS and Android mobile app is available
- knowledge base and video tutorial library
- Third-Party integration
- Free trial with no credit card requirement
- Easy-to-use interface
- Live Streaming
- Live customer support is not available
- Limited design features
Pricing for Mighty Networks
|The Community Plan||The Business Plan||Mighty Pro|
|Costs $39 per month||Costs $119 per month||Custom Plans|
|Best for Beginners||Most Popular||Best for Brands|
Community spaces can be a one-stop portal for receiving or providing information, advice, or additional assistance. Organizations administering these platforms can leverage the maintenance of these spaces to relate with consumers, foster positive sentiment, respond to inquiries, and gather data on engagement. An effective community platform can enable a direct line to interactions and contributions with consumers that may improve product awareness, generate additional content, promote mastery, and encourage loyalty. They also facilitate data intelligence on common requests and user behaviors.
The above-mentioned online community-building platforms for 2023 offer a range of features and tools to help you create and manage a thriving community, whether you're looking to build a small group of friends or a large, global network. Each platform has its own unique strengths and characteristics, so be sure to consider your specific needs and goals when deciding which one is the best fit for your community.
What is a community platform?
Community platforms combine a suite of services enabling the creation, management, and utilization of spaces for sharing between connected users. A common example would be a brand's presentation of a forum composed of administrators and end-users discussing a product or topic.
Who uses Community Platform software?
As the Community Platform category of software represents how software rises to meet the needs of online customer management, it reveals the composition of organizations and individuals that are responding to the demands around those key use cases. Typically these tools are used by:
- Community managers
- Customer support
Why use Community Platform Software?
More and larger concentrations of people have formed networks that pervade the internet, and brands have responded by formulating a way to participate in those same communication dynamics, meeting customers where they are. An effective community platform can enable a direct line to interactions and contributions with consumers that may improve product awareness, generate additional content, promote mastery, and encourage loyalty. They also facilitate data intelligence on common requests and user behaviors.
How do you build a community platform?
Steps for Building an Online Community
- Identify key stakeholders for the online community.
- Define the purpose and goal.
- Select a community platform.
- Build a member profile.
- Develop rules and norms.
- Set up your community.
- Identify key stakeholders for the online community.
- Promote your community.
What are some examples of online communities?
These are some examples of Successful Online Community Building Platforms-
- MOM365 Community. The Mom365 community covers topics from getting pregnant to birth, baby development to raising children.
- Foursquare Idea Community. This tech company tapped into the idea of creating a community early on.
- Duolingo Community. This Ed-tech company connects the whole world to learn and speak English.
What are the top online community platforms for 2023?
Some of the top online community platforms for 2023 are Bettermode, Crowdstack, Website Toolbox, Glue Up, Forumbee, Thinkific, Mighty Networks, and more.
Can I use online community platforms for free, or do I need to pay for a subscription?
It depends on the platform you choose. Some online community-building platforms offer free versions with limited features, while others require a paid subscription for access to all of their features and tools. It's worth considering your budget and the specific needs of your community when deciding which platform to use.