There are plenty of online community platforms. That’s why you might have a hard time choosing the one that best suits your needs when starting an online community from scratch. However, what’s essential is to choose an online platform that supports your marketing and community strategy, always taking into account what features it offers and if it’s easy for users to join.
For example, if you’re building a group for a remote working team, your best bet might be Slack or Discord. But if you want to start a brand community or a niche-oriented community for a podcast or another specific product, we’ll recommend another platform with different features, such as Circle.
The Internet has plenty of platforms available for users to build their communities online. And each one has its unique features. Tribe, Discourse, Discord, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, among many others.
So if you’re just learning how to start an online community, the answer to the question ‘What’s the best platform for my community?’ might be: it depends on your needs. So, in today’s article, we are going to explore a list of the most popular online community platforms of the year to help you choose the right one. Let’s get on the list!
The Importance of Running Your Community on the Right Platform
It must be remembered that the choice of an online community platform is not an isolated decision. It needs to be part of a strategy that encompasses everything related to your community.
As part of this strategy, you should ask yourself who your target audience is. Meaning who you want to reach with your content and your community.
Then ask yourself what kind of community you want to create: Do you want to tutor your community members? Do you want to make money with your community?
Regardless of your mission and goals, there’s one key element that applies to all: provide quality content to your members.
There are other fundamental aspects within the community strategy such as:
- Establishing the set of rules and guidelines with which you’ll handle your online community.
- Building community culture with time and patience.
- Creating an environment that fosters human connection and creates value for everyone involved.
In summary, you should consider all of these aspects when choosing a platform for your community. There are a variety of online community platforms, so choosing just one can be difficult. However, you need to keep in mind that the platform you choose will be just the foundation on which all these elements will thrive. And therefore, turn your online group into a successful community.
What to Look For in a Platform to Run a Community?
When you’re first starting, it’s wise to choose a platform that offers support features, such as forums and live chat. As well as additional tools like e-commerce or social media integration.
Plenty of community builders also name automation, personalization, and API integration to back-end systems as invaluable features to take into account when choosing the right platform for their online community.
For example, Chris Detzel, Director of Community & Engagement at Reltio, says that a good way to implement automation and personalization in a community is to automate member onboarding via personalized emails.
Also, a recurring feature trending among community builders is that the chosen platform should provide tools that support the community manager experience. These include analytics and moderation support to avoid spam in forums.
Most Popular Community Platforms of 2022
Are you familiar with the different options available when it comes to online community platforms? Understanding how your members feel most comfortable is essential to building a better community!
As we previously mentioned, there are plenty of platforms you can choose from to build your online business community. However, these are some of the most popular platforms of 2022 to choose from.
If you need a real-time chat with advanced permissions and moderation or unlimited message history, Discord is the platform for you. Also, one of Discord’s greatest strengths is its audio and video feature!
Also, one of the biggest advantages of this platform is that having a server is almost completely free. Since its origins, Discord works with an ad-free freemium model. This means that it allows its users to access the core features for free. But charges for additional features and content.
Discord is one of the most popular online community platforms out there. Only here in Unita, we have more than 220 listed Discord servers you can join!
Orbit‘s a community built on a Discord server. There, you can network with other community builders to bounce off ideas about how to build successful communities online.
Circle is an all-in-one community platform for both community builders and brands. It has multiple features that allow group members to participate in discussions, join live streams and events, and connect with fellow users via chat. All under your brand.
So if you’re looking for an easy-to-customize, ad-free, and distraction-free platform, choose Circle. With this platform, it’s also easy to monetize your community and it allows plenty of integrations!
In our community directory, you’ll find 25 listed Circle communities to join!
#3: Facebook groups
Needless to say, most of the platforms on this list have more features than Facebook groups. However, Facebook (now Meta) has something that the rest don’t: it’s a free social media platform people are already at. This makes it a lot easier for users to join your community!
Therefore, something that many community builders do is start by creating a group on Facebook. Later on, they move to one of the other online community platforms with more capabilities.
Slack is one of the most popular communication and collaboration tools today. And it’s currently used by many as a platform to build their communities.
However, we believe that Slack’s features are best suited for project management and organizations, as it has been around for about 13 years.
Slack’s networking potential is huge. It’s used by thousands of companies around the globe. And is specifically designed for teams to stay in touch and communicate quickly and effectively.
Therefore, if you’re looking to keep your remote working team connected or seeking a more corporate-centered platform, Slack might be the right choice. You can find more than 185 listed Slack groups only in our directory.
If you’re looking for a platform that allows you to easily create your forum, we encourage you to check out Tribe. This platform was created by an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs. And it has been used by many successful businesses such as Pinshape and Startup Digest. It’s free to use and has several plugins you can add to personalize the user experience.
Last but not least, we have Discourse, a modern online community, and collaboration platform. It allows builders and managers to organize discussions and spend less time moderating. Therefore, if multiple members of your community are likely to have similar questions or problems, this might be the platform for you.
With Discourse, you can point users with the same doubts and concerns to a library of common answers.
Also, it’s great if you want user-generated content in your community to be indexed (and thus discoverable in search engine results). Moreover, Discourse has integrations with Slack, WordPress, Zendesk, and more of your favorite tools.
These are the most popular community platforms out there! Choose the one that supports your marketing and community strategy.