The Best Online Community Platforms of 2021

Here’s how to create a community platform that makes it easy to connect your members. Hint: there’s no need to build it from scratch.

You don’t have to have thousands, or even hundreds of members to call what you’re building an online community. 

But you do have to choose a community platform that lets you create a virtual space where your members can master something interesting together. It’s just a matter of finding an online community platform that will enable you to support your followers, grow your community, and deliver results and transformation to your people. 

Ahead, we’ll define what we mean when we say community platform, offer tips on how to build an online community platform, and take a look at the best online community platforms on the market today. 

What is a community platform?

A community platform is a dedicated virtual space where you can connect a group of people who share the same goals or motivations. The best of these online community platforms offer members different ways to build relationships with each other, from polls and threaded conversations to live events and online courses. 

Why? Think about it: when you have to cobble these features together over a variety of community websites and social media platforms, your members’ attentions are being pulled in multiple directions. You’re competing with forgotten passwords, cluttered news feeds, and constant updates from friends and family. 

But when you put those community features together in one place, you give your members the chance to go deeper. Not just with your content, but with the relationships they build with each other. Those connections in turn give your members added value and help get them closer to achieving their shared goals. And when they get closer to those goals, they’re more likely to spread the news about your online community platform, giving you an opportunity for growth. It really can be that easy. 

Creating a dynamic, high-value community platform where your members can build authentic connections can be easy too. You just have to find the right software. 

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How to build an online community platform

Here’s the good news: there’s no need to build an online community platform from scratch. 

Instead, we recommend looking for a white label community platform that gives you the tools to nurture your community, deliver a variety of community-forward features, and do it all under your own brand. This way, you’ll get the best chance for a dynamic, connected community, with a high potential for growth (both for you, and your members). 

You’re looking for a modern community platform that:

  • Easily lets you set up a streamlined home for your community with your own branding, available on the web and native mobile apps. 
  • Provides multiple modes of connection, from multimedia content like rich-media articles, to live events like Q&A sessions.
  • Gives you the potential to scale down the line, offering advanced features like memberships, subscriptions, online courses, and more. 

With that in mind, here are the best online community platforms that offer some combination of the above features. 

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Mighty Networks: The only community platform that offers community, memberships, and online courses  

Mighty Networks is a versatile website builder and community platform. But it offers so much more, too. 

With a Mighty Network, creators can bring their community, membership subscriptions, and online courses together in one place, under their own brand, instantly available on web, iOS, and Android. That means it’s one of the only online community platforms that gives its creators a way to put all of their community-forward features in one place. 

Here’s what else you can do with a Mighty Network. 

Easily customize your community. 

From adding your own branding to organizing your community into subgroups, a Mighty Network makes it easy to set up a streamlined home for your community. Additionally, your community will always be available both on the web and via a dedicated native mobile app on iOS and Android devices. 

A complete package. 

With a Mighty Network, you’ll also be able to do more than just create a virtual community. Charge for access to your group with membership subscriptions, create online courses to help your members get closer to achieving their goals, or publish exclusive content via rich-media articles. Better yet, do some combination of the three. A Mighty Network lets you figure out what structure works best for your community, and gives you the opportunity to expand when you’re ready. 

Multiple ways to connect. 

Unlike other community platforms that only offer limited ways for members to connect, a Mighty Network lets your people build authentic connections with each other in a variety of ways. Members can reach out to one another by interacting with polls and questions; utilizing a personalized activity feed, direct messaging, and @mentions; and much more. 

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Vanilla Forums: The Forum-Forward Community Platform 

Vanilla Forums is an online community platform that lets big companies connect their customers with each other. It gives said customers a few different methods to get in touch, but they’ll only be able to do so on the web. 

Here’s what else Vanilla Forums’ community platform has to offer. 

Great customization potential. 

With Vanilla Forums, creators can customize their community using either a base theme or by editing HTML and CSS. But because the platform lacks a dedicated mobile app, your members will miss out on a robust mobile experience. And you’ll miss out on the opportunity to drive engagement with tools like push notifications. 

A not so complete package. 

Vanilla Forums offers a number of ways for users to connect, including @mentions, private messaging, questions, and polls. But when it comes down to it, Vanilla Forums’ community platform is first and foremost a forum. 

That means it’s great for connecting users, but not much more. There’s no chance to scale your community down the line with memberships, subscriptions, or online courses. 

Tribe: The Community Platform for Corporations

Tribe is an online community platform aimed at corporations that want to add a community space to their existing website. But when it comes to actual community features, Tribe’s offerings are somewhat limited. 

Corporate customization.  

If you’re a big business in search of a white label corporate community, Tribe can be a good get. The platform offers corporations the tools for building an online community platform on their own websites and native apps, giving customers a way to connect to each other by asking questions, participating in polls, and posting images and videos. 

Note that Tribe is targeted to companies that already have existing websites and native apps. So if you have already created an app for your digital business, you’re fine. But if you haven’t, you’ll have to go without app access.

Limited community and content. 

That being said, Tribe’s community features and content possibilities are limited. When it comes to community, Tribe does let users enable groups and access a central activity feed. But that’s about it: you won’t get access to standard community features like direct messaging, the ability to connect members by location or interest, and more. 

Creators are limited content-wise, too. There’s no way to create and host online courses or live events, which minimizes both the potential impact you can have on your members and your ability to deliver transformation around your community’s shared goals. 

The Winner for Best Online Community Platform: Mighty Networks

Building an online community platform doesn’t have to be a long uphill battle. That’s especially true when you choose a community platform that enables you to support and grow with your members. 

With Mighty Networks, you can sow the seeds for a thriving community, and invest in a community platform that will grow with you and your members as you forge the path to mastering a topic or achieving a set of goals together. 

You can also use a Mighty Network to offer your people a complete package: community, memberships, and online courses all in one place, under your own brand, and instantly available on every device. And at the end of the day, that’s what makes a Mighty Network one of the best online community platforms out there. 

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