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According to the Global Web Index, up to 76% of internet users belong to an online community. If you are a website owner, you can benefit from bringing your audience together.
An online community might be a paid membership section, community-driven content, or a social forum. Using any of these can engage potential readers, tap into otherwise unknowable subject matter expertise, and provide additional benefits to your audience through networking.
In this article, I've selected some of the best online community software on the market and included screenshots, overviews, key features, integrations, and pricing information so you can make the best choice for your online publication.
Online Community Software Shortlist
Here’s the list of the best community software I’ll cover in this article.
- Mighty Networks
- Higher Logic
- Vanilla Forums
Overviews Of The 10 Best Online Community Software Solutions
Here’s a brief description of each online community system to showcase best use cases, noteworthy features, and screenshots of the user interface.
1. Mighty Networks – Best for membership-based courses and webinars
Mighty Networks is an online community platform that allows you to create a custom domain and landing page for your blog, store, or community. You can design a free or paid community platform with icebreaker questions, a welcome checklist, and thoughtful member bios.
Personalized topic recommendations generate based on a user's past behaviors and are pushed to the top of their Discovery page. You can also customize what topics get highlighted if you have a new offering you are trying to market.
Mighty Networks has private direct messaging and small group chat features to help members grow their network. It's accessible via web browser or mobile app for Android and iOS.
Why I picked Mighty Networks: Mighty Networks allows an unlimited number of members, hosts, and moderators so it's great for building scalable communities.
Mighty Networks Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, landing pages, courses & memberships, member bios, chat/messaging, activity feed, polls & questionnaires, live streaming, and online course building.
Integrations are available through a paid plan with Zapier, which is an external service used to connect disparate digital tools.
Mighty Networks Pricing & Plans
Mighty Networks’ pricing starts at $33/month/account and they offer a 14-day free trial.
2. PeerBoard – Best community software for product/service feedback
PeerBoard is a community platform that lets you design membership programs around a publication/blog, online store, learning management systems (LMS), or a particular software/service that you offer.
PeerBoard focuses on subscription-based communities that promote exclusive content and offers like discounts, new merchandise, events, or live sessions with creators. They have all the audience tools you would expect, like user profiles, live chat/commenting, content sharing, and moderation features.
Why I picked PeerBoard: PeerBoard is unique because it offers community software for stores, SaaS owners, and service providers. PeerBoard can build you an online community forum for customer interaction, including new feature training and product feedback. You can also include a product/service wiki to address FAQs.
PeerBoard Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, community homepage builder, member groups, email digests, post spaces, rich editor, content creation, real-time comments, SEO/indexation, content sharing, and content moderation tools.
Integrations include WordPress and Shopify (natively). You can connect additional apps using a paid plan through Zapier.
PeerBoard Pricing & Plans
PeerBoard has a free version with some feature limitations. Paid plans start at $29/month.
3. Hivebrite – Best for ticketed community events
Hivebrite is a cloud-based online community software with data management tools for keeping detailed records of community members. Integrated content management lets you design public pages and menus, customize your members' area, and manage shareable content (written, audio, and video).
You can use Hivebrite as a centralized communications center to stay in touch with members through email campaigns, newsletters, push notifications, or in-app alerts.
Why I picked Hivebrite: Hivebrite is the best online community software for brands that frequently hold ticketed events. It has a calendar feature to manage your event schedule and push notifications to subscribers. Hivebrite has a ticketing feature to create different tickets and prices when holding webinars, paid podcasts, and online courses.
Hivebrite Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, data management, search & targeting filters, member database, profile-update campaign, content moderation, integrated CMS, RSS feed, news channel, media center, calendar, ticketing, online payments, and email newsletters.
Integrations include CRM and productivity tools like Google Workspace, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, Blackbaud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Hivebrite Pricing & Plans
Hivebrite costs from $299/month and offers a free demo upon request.
4. Khoros – Best for user-generated knowledge hubs
Khoros is an online community software for building user-generated knowledge hubs with interactive, dynamic, and peer-driven experiences around a particular product or service. It's a great way to find, promote, and reward your online brand promoters.
Khoros is used by companies like Airbnb, Microsoft, Samsung, and Visa to create dynamic forums and blogs bringing together product users and promoters to share experiences and answer questions. You can embed the Khoros platform into ecommerce, support, and content hubs as a way to build trust through peer-to-peer validation.
Why I picked Khoros: Khoros creates purpose-driven community spaces populated with crowd-sourced content. You can then tap into their sophisticated analytics and conversational insights to better understand what your community wants more or less of in your product.
Khoros Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, knowledge hub, crowd-sourced content, gamification, group hubs, ideas boards, groups, robust roles & permissions, data management, social media management solutions, and event marketing.
Integrations include Pinterest, YouTube, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Google My Business.
Khoros Pricing & Plans
Khoros provides customized pricing upon request.
5. Tribe – Best for customer education communities
Tribe is a no-code online community software that excels in customer-centric communications, like customer education, customer success, customer relationships, and product feedback.
Tribe is an online community software designed to increase community engagement from paying customers, subscribers, or readers. You can drag-and-drop elements in their site builder to include communication spaces, analytics pages, gamification, and VIP member access areas.
Why I picked Tribe: Tribe blends editor-created content with community-created content. You can create, host, publish, and promote topics and discussions; or, empower community members to converse among themselves for knowledge-sharing and self-help.
Tribe Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, customer relationship management, product feedback, no-code web design, reporting & analytics, content moderation, gamification, and search & filtering tools.
Integrations include Google Tag Management, Google Analytics, and Amplitude. You can also connect Tribe to a paid Zapier account if you want access to additional apps.
Tribe Pricing & Plans
Tribe is free to use for up to 100 members and 3 editors. Paid pricing starts at $59/month and comes with a 14-day free trial.
6. PlushForums – Best commercial forum software
PlushForums is an online community software designed specifically to build and host community forums for your audience.
PlusForums is an all-in-one solution for your blog, private messaging, member directory, custom profiles, online events, and paid memberships/VIP access areas. All of this and more is built out in a web- and mobile-optimized system so your audience can interact on any device.
Why I picked PlushForums: With PlushForums, members can start private forum threads with selected community members. Members of private forums can share files, videos, pictures, and text available only to the members of the group. This allows a safe space for smaller niche communities within the larger whole.
PlushForums Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, integrated blog, direct messaging, member directory, member profiles, alerts & notifications, SSL support, webpage editor, reputation system, content categories, and event management.
Integration options are available for MailChimp only at this time.
PlushForums Pricing & Plans
PlushForums costs from $49/month for up to 100 members and they offer a 14-day free trial.
7. Higher Logic – Best for content marketing automation & personalization
Higher Logic is an online community management software for forum management, email campaigns, and content marketing. They have solutions for both member-based associations (online publications, blogs, niche interest groups) as well as corporate customer support (CRM, customer engagement, product help).
Higher Logic has built-in workflow automation to assist members with onboarding to membership renewal. You can create white-label campaigns to increase member participation in programs, events, and online courses. It has detailed reporting to let you track the performance of your online community initiatives and programs.
Why I picked Higher Logic: You can use Higher Logic to create targeted email campaigns that assist in engagement, subscription, or renewal campaigns. It has an analytics feature to help you uncover members’ needs so you can develop content to address them.
Higher Logic Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design,
Integrations include Salesforce, MemberSuite, IMIS, and Microsoft Dynamics.
Higher Logic Pricing & Plans
Higher Logic provides pricing details to customers upon request.
8. vBulletin – Best for detail-rich user profiles
vBulletin is an online community software for building, customizing, and managing community-centric websites. It has customizable content modules to assist in ongoing content creation and marketing.
vBulletin has a built-in SEO feature allowing you to optimize your pages without leaving the platform. It has unique control panels for different roles like admins, moderators, and members to limit permissions according to the user’s role.
Why I picked vBulletin: vBulletin is great for detailed member profiles. Members can include a wide range of information, including birthdays, location, interests, and biography. vBulletin also has a Signature Editor feature so members can create unique signatures for use across the platform.
vBulletin Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, built-in applications, search engine optimization, messanger system, standards compliance, permissions & roles, member/user management, forums, users & user groups, moderation, and customizable blog.
Integrations are not supported at this time.
vBulletin Pricing & Plans
vBulletin pricing starts at $249/month.
9. Vanilla Forums – Best for community engagement gamification
Vanilla Forums is an online community engagement platform to provide members with an avenue to start discussions, share knowledge, and ask other members questions. Pre-built themes make it easy to get a community forum up and running quickly with no coding knowledge.
Vanilla Forums provides a space for discussions and Q&A, product feedback, a self-service knowledge base, and community analytics. It offers white-label branding to match your existing website or app. They offer an open-source version of the software, too.
Why I picked Vanilla Forums: Community engagement gamification! You can award badges to members depending on their actions and achievements, rank members according to contribution/reputation, and even distribute various digital reward types like profile badges.
Vanilla Forums Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, product feedback, forums, white-label branding, gamification, user groups, event management, knowledge base, ideation, and content moderation tools.
Integrations include Mailchimp, Salesforce, Slack, Aha!, Zendesk, Jira, Productboard, LearnUpon, Skilljar, Slack, Sendoso, Active Campaign, WordPress, and Github - plus more through their custom API.
Vanilla Forums Pricing & Plans
Pricing and a free demo of Vanilla Forums are available upon request.
10. NING – Best for advanced monetization options
NING is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) for website building with social integrations built right into the paltform. You can create public, private, or members-only communities with assigned roles and permissions to each active user.
You'll also have access to moderation tools, anti-spam software, and SEO optimization features.
Why I picked NING: NING has a ton of community monetization options, including paywall content, memberships and subscriptions, and donations. Their payment system comes with fraud prevention and multi-factor authentication as well as multiple payment options (PayPal, Stripe, credit card).
NING Standout Features & Integrations
Features include community platform design, integrated blog, forums, user groups, polls, audio sharing, social sharing, follow options, custom web themes, montetization tools, domain mapping, and SSL certification.
Integrations include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MailChimp, YouTube, Vimeo, and Google products.
NING Pricing & Plans
NING pricing starts at $25/month for up to 1,000 members and offers a 14-day free trial.
Other community tools
- Meetsy - Community builder with personalized one-on-one "match" system to connect different members
- Reddit - Build your own subredit community and tap into 52 million+ daily users on the site
- Facebook Groups - Leverage your Facebook audience to create a space for conversation and social sharing
What is Online Community Software?
An online community software is a program that helps you create an online community. It provides a platform for people to interact with each other and share information. The software also allows you to moderate the community and keep it organized.
There are many benefits of using an online community software. It can help you build relationships with others, exchange ideas, and collaborate on projects. The software also makes it easy to keep track of discussions and progress.
If you’re thinking of starting an online community, consider using an online community software. It’s a great way to connect with people from all over the world and make your community thrive.
How to Select Online Community Software?
There are a lot of different online community software programs available, so how do you know which one is best for your needs? Here are a few things to consider when making your selection:
- The first thing you need to decide is what kind of features you need. Do you need something simple with just a few basic features, or do you need something more robust with a lot of bells and whistles?
- Another important consideration is ease of use. You want to make sure that the software you select is easy to use and navigate, otherwise your members will likely become frustrated and give up on using it.
- Another thing to keep in mind is scalability. If you anticipate your community growing quickly, you'll want to make sure that the software you select can handle an increased number of users without any problems.
- Also: what's your budget? Online community software ranges from free to hundreds of dollars a month. You'll have to strike a balance between what you expect out of the software and what you are willing to pay.
Other Community & Event Software Reviews
Here are some other ideas for community-building software (for events, forums, and more).
- Virtual Event Platforms
- Community Builder Software
- Community Engagement Platform
- Membership Website Builder
- Community Forum Software
What Do You Think About This List?
Online communities have evolved from being an avenue to interact with like-minded individuals to being an excellent tool to promote products, inspire brand loyalty, and generate revenue. With many online communities competing for the same audience base, you need to make your online community stand out to capture the lion’s share of the market. The online community software featured in this article can help you make that happen. These are the best online community software to provide the best user experience, inspire meaningful conversations, and attract new members.
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