Should You Develop an Online Community App?

Developing an online community app from scratch is expensive and time-consuming. Good news: We’ve done the hard work for you.

If you’re a creator who is trying to bring your brand to the next level, consider this: Building a dedicated community component can be a powerful value add. Especially if that community is accessible both via the web and via an online community app.

Plenty of movers and shakers have already realized just how much value a native app can provide, especially compared to the distraction machine that is social media. But it isn’t exactly a breezy process: Creating an app for your business from scratch is both incredibly expensive and time consuming.

The good news is that there is an alternative to custom app development: A white label online community app that does all the heavy lifting for you.

Ahead, we’re making the case for online community apps over custom app development. But first, let’s tackle the intersection of community and brand building, and why it’s so important (even for you!).

Why are communities so important for building a brand?

Building a community around your brand is the easiest way to add immense value to your work and increase your longevity. It all comes down to what we call network effect: Each new person that joins you brings additional value to you, your brand, and your members. In turn, those members bring new people in, which accelerates your growth and gives you a greater chance to go the distance.

At the end of the day, a community is a group of people who have come together because they share a common goal or interest. Who doesn’t love to find other people that are passionate about the same things they are, right? Not only is finding your people an energizing feeling, but it naturally leads to your members seeking out more people to join in on the fun.

This effect is even more potent when you up your availability, and offer your members the chance to access your brand content wherever, whenever—we’re talking the web, and native mobile apps on iOS and Android. In other words, this is where an online community app comes into play.

Let’s unpack this a bit more.

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Why you should invest in an online community app

Investing in an online community app allows your community to access your content at any time, no matter where they are.

Think of it like this: When you build an online community app you’re investing in the power of having your own private, dedicated space for you and your members. A space that’s free of outside distractions—the kind you usually find on social media.

The internet is inherently a distracting place. But when you develop a white label app, you get to control the narrative. Your logo, your voice, and your aesthetic are built right into it. So is your content, and your rules.

And that’s exactly why building an online community app is so valuable.

The platforms where you likely started growing your brand—whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another social platform—are solely designed to distract people from your content and push them toward the next thing, over and over. Compare that to the experience of an online community app, where you can set the tone and control the kinds of content your members see and interact with. Sounds pretty great, right?

Now that we’ve broken down why an online community app is a great thing to invest in, we should address the elephant in the room: Should you make an app from scratch?

The case against custom app development

When you’re doing research about online community apps, the biggest consideration you’ll have is whether to build your own app or use a software platform with a mobile app built into their service.

There are certainly plenty of reasons to want to build and customize your own online community app from scratch. You have complete control over your members’ experience; the features you want with no outside distractions; and a chance to make your brand supremely available, no matter where your members are.

For most people, it comes down to wanting more control and freedom over what they can do with their content, and how they can improve the member experience. These are important things to be concerned about, but creating your own app from scratch will most likely be more trouble than it’s worth.

But here’s the truth. For most creators, building an online community app from the ground up is a bad decision. Why? Because creating a mobile app is really hard. But making an app that people actually want to use? That’s even harder.

It’s easy to underestimate just how many resources go into building an app from scratch. We’re talking research, trial & error, time, and a lot of money.

Take a moment and think of your favorite apps. They’re pretty great, right? Well, that greatness comes from a lot of testing, research, time, and money. For most businesses—especially smaller ones—it just doesn’t make sense to make the colossal investment necessary to build the online community app you’d want from the ground up.

The reality is that most companies that invest in designing their own app spend well over $200,000 in costs plus easily six to 12 months of lead time to actually develop the app and bring it to market. For some people that might be a viable option. But for most, it won’t be.

The good news is that there are plenty of online community platforms available today that have developed mobile apps for you to use. That means you can focus on what matters most: Your members, the relationships they build, and the content you’re creating for them.

If you’re curious about what you should look for in an online community app, we have some ideas for you. Ahead, we’re going to explore what kinds of benefits of using an online community platform to build your app.

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Benefits of using an online community platform to build your app

So we’ve covered why creating a custom online community app isn’t the right fit for most creators. Now, let’s unpack what you can do with an online community platform that has done the hard work of app development already.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we think these are some major reasons to choose a branded community app route.

Access to features that you’ll know members will love

One of the main reasons that creators are drawn to building their own online community app is that they have a blank slate to do what they want. While having the freedom to go in whatever direction you please is great, you’re going to go down more than a few wrong roads before choosing the right one.

But one of the main reasons why custom app development is so costly is because of the trial and error involved in developing features that people like to use. When you choose an online community platform, you’re investing in a place that has done the research already to know what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve learned that customization tools that provide creators more control and opportunities to foster interactions between members are invaluable. People are joining your community to gain a closer connection with you, but also to gain new connections with others interested in the same things.

If you’re curious what some of those features might be, here’s a list of great things you can do in a robust online community app:

  • Discussion board posts.
  • Polls and Q&As.
  • Live & Recorded videos.
  • Livestreams.
  • Paid content.
  • Online courses.

All of these features stimulate conversation among your community and provide you new ways of monetizing your content. The best part is that these are all available on the online community app and on your website when you create a Mighty Network.

Your online community app is constantly evolving

Communities, just like humans, are constantly evolving. And one of the benefits of using an online community platform with native mobile apps is that you’ll be able to access new and improved features as they come. And those features will ultimately help you foster deeper relationships between your members.

Creating new features is one of the main factors that takes time and money when developing an app. It is not an exaggeration that you’ll need to hire someone full-time to work on features (if not a whole team) if you try to build an online community app yourself.

When you use an online community platform, you’ll pay a flat rate (most likely an annual fee) and with that comes technical support, updates to the mobile app experience, and more. You’ll save yourself time, money, and headaches troubleshooting when your app stops working or when a feature completely misses the mark (which will happen, that’s part of the game).

The benefits of choosing an online community platform for building an app might not be immediately intuitive, but we hope these were insightful. Unfortunately, there are still a number of different platforms to choose from, so we thought we’d make that decision a bit easier for you too.

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Mighty Pro is the best place to build an online community app 

The best way to grow an online community is to choose a platform that will actually give you the community building tools you need to grow.

Mighty Networks is a leader in the world of online community building and has all of the tools and features we’ve covered today. You also get a powerful website builder that gives you the tools you need to deliver your awesome content.

But this is about online community apps, and that’s where Mighty Pro comes in. When you choose our premium service, Mighty Pro, you’re building a brand that’s with your members wherever they go.

Mighty Pro gives you all of the features of a regular Mighty Network in addition to a white-label mobile app. That means your app has your brand icon and you can deliver branded push notifications, events, and more. And unlike custom app development which can take up to a year to get off the ground, you can get your app up and running in as little as three weeks!

So when your app launches it will be instantly available across web, iOS, and Android, all under your own brand. There isn’t another online community platform out there that has the number of features we have to offer.

That’s a wrap

We believe that having an online community app for your brand is a spectacular thing to invest in. But making one from scratch isn’t the right move for most people.

Save yourself time and money trying to reinvent the wheel. By choosing an online community platform you can use all of those resources creating awesome content and fostering a thriving community for your brand.

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