A community platform is a place where people can interact, share ideas and collaborate. A community platform will typically serve as a space for members to post content, share, and discuss topics that are relevant to the group.
The core aim of any community platform is to create a strong sense of belonging amongst its members, bringing together a group of people with similar interests or those who might be aiming to achieve a shared goal.
The best community platforms offer more than just a space for discussion – many also provide admin tools to help you manage your members and define rules and guidelines to maintain order and keep things running smoothly.
In this guide, we look at some of the best community platforms available and share our top tips for managing your own thriving online community.
Building an online community is one of the most effective ways to engage with your customers and build brand loyalty, but it’s not easy. The best community platforms take a lot of time and effort to get right.
To help give you a better idea of what’s out there, we’ve put together this list of the best community platforms for your business.
Best Community Platforms
What Are Community Platforms
The best community platforms provide a space for people to share and discuss their thoughts, ideas, and passions. They provide a platform where they can meet new people and make friends, or where they can find like-minded individuals who are interested in the same things as them.
If you’re looking for a community platform that’s right for you, keep reading! We’ll take a look at some of the most popular community platforms today, including Reddit, Twitter and Facebook.
Best Community Platforms – Introduction
In the first post in this series, I want to go over our top 10 rated community platforms. These are the ones that we have ranked as the best overall solutions for building an online community.
We’ll be talking about what they do, how they work, and why we think that they should be on your shortlist of community platforms.
1. Jive-x – Jive’s platform is one of the most popular social business solutions out there. It has a lot of great features like gamification, activity streams, forums and more.
2. Lithium – Lithium is one of the big players in enterprise social networking and supports a wide range of different types of communities. It has a lot of advanced features like gamification, polls, user management, etc.
3. Vanilla Forums – Vanilla’s platform is focused on creating a good forum experience for your users with features like single sign-on (SSO), forums, blogs and more.
4. Telligent Community – Telligent’s platform is one of the biggest enterprise social networks.
What are the Best Community Platforms?
When you’re thinking about starting a community, there’s a dizzying array of options on the market. Do you want to go with an all-in-one solution?
Or should you roll your own, using a variety of different tools and services? Here’s a look at four of the most popular options, to help you get started.
What are the Best Community Platforms?
- Nodebb Nodebb is open source software, which means that it’s free to use, but you have to host it yourself. If your site has some dedicated fans and you want to give them something extra for their support, Nodebb could be a good choice.
- It does require some technical knowledge to set up and maintain – if you don’t know much about databases and web servers, it can be tricky to get started. But as long as you have someone who can take care of that stuff for you, Nodebb is a great option.
With Thinkific, you can share your knowledge with the world and get paid for it! Powerful & Easy To Use Create, market, and sell your online course with Thinkific’s robust yet simple to use platform.
Thinkific is a software platform that allows entrepreneurs to create, market, sell and deliver their own online courses. The software is easy to use, customizable and comes with all the pieces you need to create and launch your online course.
High-quality, responsive video hosting on a platform that’s optimized for learning. Multiple Video Formats Easily add videos from your computer, YouTube and Vimeo to any lesson.
Add chapter markers to your videos for easy navigation. Streamlined Design Our intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to design amazing courses without any technical expertise.
Accelerate your course creation process with our professionally designed templates (no coding required).
Editor Customize the look of your course site with our built-in theme editor (no coding required).
Set custom coupon codes so you can offer discounts to launch new courses, offer special pricing to select groups, and more!
- Easy to use, easy to set up (no technical skills required).
- Ability to create your own branded theme, no need to pay for an expensive course theme (though you can if you want!).
- Ability to drip content and schedule release dates. So you just upload your modules and schedule them to go live on the days you want them too!
- Option of a free plan or low cost paid plans (unlike some platforms which charge whether you sell anything or not!).
Mighty Networks is a new way to build and engage a community. It’s a place where your people can connect, share ideas and grow together.
Build in days, not months. Mighty Networks has all the features you need to create and grow your network in days, not months.
Branded app and web experience: Your own branded app, plus a fully responsive website that works on any device and screen size.
Private Social Network: Connect your members with each other and with you through Groups and Direct Messages.
Membership Site: Create an exclusive space for members only, with content that’s always available to access on any device.
Online Courses and Online Workshops: Build online courses or online workshops for live or self-paced learning, on web or mobile.
Bring everything together
Combine all your content in one place: your website, blog, and discussions. And with apps for iOS and Android, everybody stays connected no matter where they are.
Build a community of your own
Create a private space where members can hang out, share stories and files, and get to know each other. Offer exclusive content Keep your members coming back with member-only chats, forums, blogs, courses, and more.
Make money selling memberships
Charge monthly or yearly fees for exclusive access to your network. Cost: PRO plan is $99 per month or $990 per year.
Tribe is a platform that connects brands with talented content creators. Easy to use. No tech required.
Simply fill out your brief, choose your creator and let them do the work. Get inspired, refreshed content quickly and on-demand when you need it.
Quick, easy and responsive customer service all the way! High quality curated creators.
Campaign Briefs: Write your campaign brief, including the audience you wish to reach, the budget you have available and the type of content you’d like.
Influencer Selection: Review applications and select the influencers who are right for your campaign. Content Approval: Approve or request changes to submitted content before publishing.
Real-Time Tracking & Reporting: Monitor engagement, clicks and conversions across all your campaigns in real time.
Payment Processing: Fund your campaign account, pay influencers directly and track payments through our platform.
For brands, our benefits are clear:
- Instant access to over 10,000 Australian influencers for your next campaign.
- Ability to filter and search by category/niche/location/influencer metrics/price range (and more).
- No agency fees.
- Save time and money.
- Build a list of favourite influencers.
- Create campaign briefs with ease.
- Track campaign performance and engagement in real-time via our analytics dashboard.
For influencers, our benefits are clear:
- Brand trust – no longer will you have to worry about getting paid on time as all payments are made through Stripe and sent directly to your bank account which ensures that payments are processed and delivered seamlessly.
- Receive briefs from brands in your niche and where you want them – give us the categories you’d like to receive and we’ll send you relevant briefs only, giving you more control over what opportunities come your way.
- Campaign tracking – track your engagement, reach, impressions and other stats in real-time, so that you can monitor the effectiveness of your posts.
Discourse is the 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet. Use it as a mailing list, discussion forum, long-form chat room, and more!
Discourse is modern forum software for your community. Use it as a mailing list, discussion forum, long-form chat room, and more! Everything you need to grow your community.
Discourse is a mailing list that doesn’t suck! Discourse makes following discussions easy with notifications, post filtering and digest emails. Our format makes it easy to follow long conversations without losing track of what’s going on.
Discourse uses an intelligent layout that automatically adapts to any size screen: desktop, mobile or tablet. Your users will love it.
Long-Form Chat Room.
Discourse has robust support for real-time discussion right in your browser, using WebSockets to push new posts in real time.
This means your users can get instant gratification while they’re chatting with you on your site. And More! Discourse is designed to make everyone feel welcome and safe to participate in the discussion.
Whether you’re dealing with technical questions from customers or passionate fans of your latest release, we’ve got you covered with features like private
Drag and drop image uploading!
Not just that, but inline image uploading! Just drag and drop the image into your post – it will upload while you type.
Real time editing.
Type a reply and Discourse will save it automatically in your browser.
Save Draft every 15 seconds! Your post is saved as you type.
Fully responsive layout – looks great on mobile devices too!
Desktop notifications for watching topics and replies.
Tagging support for topics.
Use tags to create topic categories for your forum or site. Tagging also allows you to subscribe to topics based on their tags.
User reputation system with thanks/likes (similar to StackOverflow)
Private Messaging between other users of the forum. Lightweight moderation tools for community moderation (also similar to StackOverflow).
Moderators can silently flag posts for attention, and trust levels can be assigned per user group or per user basis.
- It’s built to scale well – with millions of users, you won’t have any trouble.
- It’s open source, so you can fork it, modify it, and make it your own.
- It has an active community that can help you with support issues and customizations.
- It’s optimized for mobile use, which is important since there are more mobile devices than personal computers in the world. If you’re looking for a forum software solution, check out Discourse.
Vanilla Forums is an open source discussion forum for the web. It is built on a model–view–controller web application framework that can be used independently of the CMS that allows you to stay in control of your data.
It provides great customization and flexibility, making it suitable for all types of businesses: from small and medium enterprises to large corporations.Vanilla Forums is an open community-driven project that was built to help small businesses and major brands connect with their customers in a more meaningful way.
Vanilla Forums provides a full suite of features that increases user engagement and customer loyalty. You can create a community where people can interact and share their ideas, ask questions and get answers or simply discuss different topics by creating discussion forums that are divided into categories and subcategories.
- Easy to use, flexible, and free!
- Private communities that can be accessed by invitation only.
- Single sign-on (SSO) and two factor authentication (2FA).
- Social login, so users can log in with their social media accounts.
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android devices allow users to access your community on the go.
- Gamification features, such as badges and points, to reward community members.
- An API that allows you to integrate your community with third party software, such as CRMs and analytics programs.
- A powerful set of moderation tools that allow you to manage your community easily.
Vanilla has a wide range of features. Its core features include forum creation, sharing, commenting and liking capabilities.
Vanilla has a large community. It’s used by more than 300,000 websites in 170 countries.
Many moderators contribute by creating plugins for the platform. Vanilla has responsive design capabilities.
Its themes are responsive and mobile-friendly, allowing users to access it from any device with an internet connection. It is easy to customize Vanilla Forums.
Users can choose from a variety of pre-built themes or create their own unique designs with CSS.
Spectrum.chat is a community platform where you can share ideas, find answers, join groups and have discussions that matter.
- Communities can have their own custom domain name (e.g., webflow.community) Anyone can create a community
- A community leader can change the theme, color scheme, logo, and favicon of their community.
- Members can be invited from Slack or by email address Communities have channels for discussions on different topics.
You get to help people! Spectrum is a place for people to ask questions, find answers, and become better developers.
When you answer questions, you’re helping other developers. You can show off your expertise.
Every time you participate on Spectrum — especially when you answer questions — you gain reputation points. Reputation points are displayed next to your name and help you build credibility in the community.
You can learn from others. Spectrum provides a space for experts and learners alike to interact with one another.
Answers to other people’s questions can be a great learning opportunity for you. It’s fun! Finally, Spectrum is just fun! Everyone who participates on Spectrum is excited about web development and eager to share that enthusiasm with others.
Slack is a collaboration hub for work, no matter what work you do. It’s a place where conversations happen, decisions are made, and information is always at your fingertips.
With Slack, your team is better connected. Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams. Your tools and services can easily connect with Slack through our APIs, which give you the flexibility to create the experience that works best for your team or organization.
Connect email notifications to channels so that everyone has visibility and context into what’s happening as soon as it happens, or link to files from Box or Dropbox so that others can easily provide feedback on a project before it’s finalized. Slack is a collaboration hub for work, no matter what work you do.
It’s a place where conversations happen, decisions are made, and information is always at your fingertips. With Slack, your team is better connected.
Channels: Group conversations in Slack are organized by topic, project, team or whatever makes sense for you. If you’re looking for a new home for your project, you can create a new channel in any workspace where you have permission to do so.
Search: Search is a powerful tool that helps you find what you need when you need it. You can search across public channels and private messages, or filter your results based on file types, people involved and more.
Direct Messages: You can use Direct Messages to have private conversations with your teammates without leaving the app. They’re great for times when you only want to chat with one or two people.
You can also create Multi-Person Direct Messages if you want to include more than two people in the conversation.
Notifications: You can choose which notifications you receive and how they’re delivered.
Each notification includes an option where “Do not disturb” mode is enabled by default — this means that Slack won’t send any notifications until you disable Do Not Disturb mode at the start of your next work day (or whatever time works best for you).
- Share files, images, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets to bring context to your conversations — right into your channels. Keep everyone at the same page.
- Organize all your work in one place to get more done. Channels help you organize and focus on what matters most.
- Keep track of your work in messages and channel feeds. Search through all your conversations, files, and people from a single search box.
Facebook Groups help you connect with people in real life, whether you’re part of a classroom, a club, or just a group of friends who want to play games together.
To get started with groups for your organization: Go to facebook.com/groups/create and select your group type.
Fill out the required information about your group. If you’re an admin of a group, you can post as the Page by clicking next to Post .
To change the way you post in your group, click at the top-right corner of Facebook and select Settings from the dropdown menu. From there, click Your Facebook Information in the left column and click View under Download Your Information.
Select All and then go to Posts and Stories from Your Groups and select the box next to Group Posts and Stories. Then click Create File.
You’ll be notified when your file is ready to download, which may take several minutes or hours depending on how active your Facebook account has been.
Group Conversations — Members can start conversations in the group or comment on posts made by others.
Announcements — Group admins can write announcements that show up at the top of the group and in members’ News Feeds.
Group Events — Members can create events within the group that all members will see in their News Feeds and on the group page.
Upload Photos and Videos — Members can share photos and videos with each other right in the group or via their own personal profiles.
Group Polls — Admins can ask questions to gather feedback from their members, such as “What day works best for everyone to attend our next meeting?”
Facebook Groups are a great place for businesses to engage with customers and promote products. Consumers who join Groups are generally interested in the topic, so they’re more likely to be receptive to your posts.
Group members can also engage in conversations with each other, which helps build a sense of community around your brand. You can also use a Group to build up hype around a product launch or event, then use it as a way to keep people updated about what’s going on.
What is a Community Platform?
What is a community platform? It’s not just a website, an app, or a blog. A community platform is all of these things and more.
A community platform is a place where you can bring people together to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and make connections. A community platform can be as simple as a single page on your website that allows people to ask questions or as large as an online forum with thousands of members.
It can be used for many different purposes:
- Crowdsourcing ideas for new products or services Providing support for customers who need help using your product.
- Generating leads by helping people solve problems related to your product or industry
- Building relationships with your customers by providing them with insights and advice
- Whatever the purpose of your community platform might be, there are two important elements you need to consider: the tools you use to manage it and the strategy you use to run it.
A community platform is more than a website. It’s a place where people come together to share their thoughts, interests, and experiences. It is the focal point of your online community.
Best Community Platforms – Wrap Up
It would be easy to say that there’s no single “best” community platform, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I think the best community platform is one that is strong in the areas you need it to be, and fits your budget!
That said, some community platforms have more strengths than others.
Here are a few ideas of where each platform might be best suited:
Jive: large enterprise organizations with an existing investment in Jive, software companies focused on developer communities .
Higher Logic: large membership-based organizations looking for a lower cost option
Lithium: large brands with lots of products or services and very active social channels
Salesforce Community Cloud: enterprise organizations with an existing investment in Salesforce and a need for integration with CRM data.
Vanilla Forums: companies looking for a lower cost solution with good mobile app options
Telligent Community: organizations that need very advanced permits or security features “Community” is a broad category that encompasses a lot of different types of tools.
The platforms listed here cover many of the main categories, so hopefully you’ve found something to solve your problem. If you did, let us know! We’d love to hear how it’s going.