It’s a great time for online communities, as more and more creators and brands are trusting them as the best vehicle for delivering value to their members.
But when you look at the best online community platforms, it’s surprising that many industry leaders in online communities don’t offer community app options.
A community app is a no-brainer. It puts your brand community in the hands of the people who want to hear from you the most, and lets you serve your audience in all sorts of neat ways. And, let’s be honest, lots of people don’t even have desktop computers anymore–so if you don’t have a native app, you’re probably behind the curve.
In this article, we’ll give you 4 contenders for the best community app of 2022. Each has a slightly different approach and specialty, but there’s definitely something here for everyone.
In this article…
What is a community app?
A community app is used to run, well, a community! Online communities are becoming more and more common in their own right, and lots of brands are also looking to add communities to their existing offerings as a way to serve their audience better. With a community app, at minimum, you can bring great discussions into your users’ hands.
But many community app options go far beyond a forum function, giving you a ton of amazing features to build with, things like courses, subgroups, the options for paywalls, live streaming, and analytics. Plus, the best community apps also give you a white-label platform to build your own brand and not theirs.
Why do you need a community app?
Community apps are becoming common for a whole range of reasons. For starters, a lot of creators are turning to building a community around their brands. For those joining the creator economy, a community app is a fantastic way to monetize, with higher margins and revenue potential than pretty much any other online monetization method. If you’re a thought leader or influencer with an existing audience elsewhere, launching a community is a great way to build deeper connections with your followers.
We’re seeing a lot of businesses and organizations looking for a community app too. Creating a customer community around the work you do, whether you’re purely a digital business or you have a brick-and-mortar presence can provide a branded space to connect with each other and with you, providing valuable community-led growth for your mission.
Here are a few of the many reasons people choose to launch a community app:
- To sell memberships
- To offer a premium experience
- To deliver value a website can’t
- To upsell new products and services
- To sell courses
- To host live events
The best community app of 2022
Whatever your vision is for an online community app, there are a lot of options to make it work for you. Here are some of the best community apps for your brand.
Best all-in-one, white-label community app
Mighty Pro is a premium, white-label community app builder that makes it really simple to get a beautiful app up and running that matches your brand. Mighty Pro has a ton of useful features, from the option to easily sell memberships in your own currency, to live event capability, to the option to create and sell courses for your members.
On top of a bunch of useful features, the Mighty Pro team works closely with you to get your app up and running, launching it under your own brand in the iOS and Google Play store. They also provide ongoing support throughout your app’s lifecycle, walking you through valuable analytics and making sure everything is working smoothly.
- Live streaming
- Interactive forums
- Custom activity feed
- Elegant course creation
- Virtual events
- Subgroups (can be monetized independently)
- Charge in your own currency
- Sell bundles
- Ongoing VIP support
While many creators are cobbling together different software to get all these things done, Mighty Pro does it all in one place–making it the best community app of 2022.
Best for live community events
Wild Apricot is a membership software specifically created for nonprofits and other similar organizations. It does also feature a community app option, making it a contender here. With Wild Apricot you can build member databases, use it to contact them, and charge for membership fees and dues. It even has the option to create unique websites for individual chapters. So, for example, if a national association had regional chapters, they could each create their own subspace.
One of the best things about Wild Apricot’s community app is its functionality for live events. While it lacks a lot of the features for a robust virtual community that a platform like Mighty Pro has, it does have some good features for running a live conference. So, for example, your members could pay membership fees, scan a QR code for registration, and have an event schedule within the app itself–rather than having to lug papers around.
Best free community app
Discord is a well-known platform for gamers, that’s mostly free–making it one of the best free community apps. Created for PC gamers, Discord gives you the capability for live streaming and chat. You can create your own forum (AKA “server”) and bring people together for conversations.
Discord is great for friends who want to get a conversation going, and it’s a good free community app. But if you’re looking for a community app you can build your own brand on, charge for access, or create courses, it’s not the right option. This means it’s not really for businesses, organizations, or even creators–it’s way too limited.
Second best all-in-one platform
While we talked about Mighty Networks above as the best all-in-one community app builder, Disciple is another option. Based in the UK, it has a premium app plan that starts with a base of 500 users–you can pay to add more members and features as you go. It has some good customization and member management capability for your app.
As far as app features go, Disciple gives you the option to create a forum that hosts multimedia posts. You can also build courses for your members and live stream. It also comes with an activity feed and notification options that let each member know what’s been happening in the community.
One of the downsides to Disciple as a community app is that there are different user experiences between the app and the web app. This might not be an issue for those who only use the app, but if you have a community that can be accessed through both a website and an app, it could be an issue. For example, live streaming is only available on the app, not on the website. (Here’s a full comparison of Disciple vs Mighty Networks.)