Mighty Networks vs. Circle

If you’ve been looking for a place to host your online community, we’re diving deep into two heavy-hitters.

Right now is a great time to choose a software platform and build an online community.


We’ve all been rethinking the way we connect with each other due to COVID-19’s effects on our lives. More and more people are at home trying to find new ways of connecting with others and finding community.


If you’ve been thinking about online communities, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of platforms out there. We can’t front, the process can get easily overwhelming. But the good news is, we’re here to help.


Ahead, we’re putting two community platforms to the test: Mighty Networks vs. Circle. But first, let’s explore what online community platforms are all about.


What is an online community platform?


An online community platform is a service that gives you robust tools to design and build a website for a group of people around a theme, topic, or idea.


Online communities are just like physical ones in that they are a group of like-minded people who have come together to achieve a common goal.


But online communities have a number of benefits that physical ones don’t. They are more accessible to a wider range of people. And they are much easier to scale with your community’s growth.


Next up, we’re going to talk a bit about how you cultivate an online community in the first place.


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How do you cultivate an online community?


Cultivating an online community starts by bringing like-minded people together and to achieve a common goal.


The most successful communities take it a step further, designing members’ experiences and helping those members form connections with each other. We’ve found that great online communities tend to share three major features:



  • A clear purpose. Communities become stronger when everyone is on the same page about what they are building together. A clear purpose means that you should be crystal clear in articulating what the group’s main goal is and the steps you need to take to get there.

  • Additional incentives for sticking around. An amazing part of any community is its potential to grow and change as time goes on. When choosing the best Circle alternatives it was important to us choose community platforms that offer you more than just community tools. A modern community platform should make it possible for you to host a virtual event, sell courses online, and grow your website into a paid membership site.

  • Many ways to interact with each other. Communities are better able to sustain themselves when you provide members a bunch of ways to interact with each other. Some features we love are discussion boards with commenting, direct messaging, member profiles, breakout groups, and text chat.


When you have these three aspects available to you for building your online community, it’s a lot easier to keep your members excited, motivated, and along for the ride.


Before we dive into our head-to-head between Mighty Networks vs. Circle we’ll look at what the two platforms are and set up some criteria for how we judge them.


Mighty Networks vs. Circle: Who are they?


Before we break down the criteria for our heated matchup, we thought it would be helpful to explain what they are. As we said at the top, there are many different online community platforms and they all emphasize different things.


Mighty Networks


Mighty Networks is a website builder and white label community platform that lets you bring your community, online courses, and content together in one place, under your own brand and domain name, instantly available on web, iOS and Android.


Not only does a Mighty Network let you publish a variety of content to help jumpstart conversations within your community, but it also lets you divide your Network into groups and subgroups, plus charge for memberships and online courses.


Circle


Circle is a new community platform that is designed to bring together your discussions, members, and content. Circle is all about integrating your existing community from other platforms into one shared space.


It’s a lot like Slack…Well, actually, it basically is Slack, but with discussion board functionality. Circle emphasizes flexibility in their design so you can build an online community space for any type of business you’ve made (elsewhere).


Now, let’s break down the criteria we will use for evaluating Mighty Networks vs. Circle.


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Mighty Networks vs. Circle: Judgment criteria


When there are so many online community platforms to choose from, it can be hard to know what software to pick. We’ve come up with some guidelines that will make that decision easier. Our top three criteria are:



  • Customization and a robust feature set. Your online community thrives when you have a lot of tools to experiment with. Why? Because it gives your members new opportunities and experiences to interact with one another. We are talking about online course creation, paid memberships, discussion boards, polls, Q&As, member profiles, prerecorded video, and more.

  • Monetization options. Having powerful options for how you make money from your content is important. It’s also key to have different ways for your members to pay for what they want. You’ll want to be able to provide flexibility for payments (think monthly, annual, or one-time fees). And you want to make those transactions seamless for your members.

  • Availability. The best online community platforms will make your content available in as many ways as possible. If your members can access the community or course from a variety of places they will be more invested. Online community platforms that can be built for and across the web, iOS, and Android is a must.


While there are a number of different avenues to explore with online community platforms, we believe these are the most important.


So without further ado, let the battle begin: Mighty Networks vs. Circle! Okay, maybe we can relax a little…Let’s dive into how these two platforms stack up.


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Mighty Networks vs. Circle: Customization and features


In this category, we’re looking at which online community platforms offer more ways to customize and experiment with the space you create. Customization and robust features are important because they allow you to find new ways to engage your members and appeal to different needs.


Mighty Networks


Mighty Networks knocks it out of the park when it comes to customization. We believe that the best platforms will allow you to experiment with the types of content and experiences you offer.


The great thing about Mighty Networks is that it is not just an online community platform. You can also create online courses and paid memberships. The platform has a powerful website builder so you can build a community space that utilizes your brand assets and can be tweaked to fit your style.


Mighty Networks provides many other tools:



  • Anyone in the community can create posts on discussion boards.

  • You can post recorded videos (Update: native live video is available in online courses now!), images, and audio clips.

  • You can have free small groups or charge for access.

  • Create polls, quizzes, and surveys.

  • Utilize an “activity feed” feature makes it easy for members to keep track of all the awesome content you’re providing.


Now, let’s take a look at Circle.


Circle


As we said earlier, Circle is very close to the likes of Slack and Discord. That’s not a bad thing! Both of the platforms are great at what they do. But when it comes to building an online community, Circle doesn’t have a robust feature set.


When you integrate your online community with Circle, you get a clean looking community space that will be familiar to people who’ve used popular social media sites.


Circle does a good job of allowing creators to make different “topics” (basically discussion boards) for members to interact with. Here are some other features that Circle offers that we believe are valuable:



  • You can make private groups.

  • Members can create their own profiles.

  • You can integrate existing content easily into your community space.


The biggest problem with Circle’s customization and features is that it hinges on you having a pre-existing community and content to consolidate in one place. For example, you can’t create an online course on Circle. If you want to offer a course, you’ll need to use a separate platform and then integrate it into your Circle community space.


This is why Mighty Networks is a great alternative to Circle because you can build a community from the ground up on your Mighty Network. Now, let’s move on to monetization options.


Mighty Networks vs. Circle: Monetization options


Another important category to consider with online community platforms is your monetization options. When we talk about “monetization” we’re not just talking about ways for your members to pay for your content. Monetization is also tied to the kinds of features your platform offers, such as online courses and paid memberships.


Mighty Networks


When it comes to monetization, Mighty Networks allows you to create a plan that tackles multiple fronts. When you create an online community space on Mighty Networks you can make it free or charge a membership fee.


On top of that, as your community grows, you can build online courses for members to purchase. This gives you another additional stream of revenue and a new way for members to engage with your work. Best of all, you can determine whether your membership renews, monthly, yearly, or have it as a one-time fee.


Circle


Unfortunately, Circle doesn’t offer much in the way of monetization options. Just as we said above, Circle’s whole philosophy revolves around you integrating pre-existing work you’ve done into the community space you build. What that means is you’ll have to utilize a third-party platform like Teachable, Shopify, or Stripe to host payments for your community membership.


Outside of these major hurdles, you also cannot build online courses or control payment plans through Circle. While we think it’s great that you can integrate third-party platforms into your Circle community, we believe having one platform that does it all is better.


Mighty Networks vs. Circle: Availability options


In this day and age, people are increasingly interacting with content and communities through their phones and mobile devices. We believe that the best online community platforms allow you to build a space that is available where your members are.


Mighty Networks


Mighty Networks has developed powerful tools to make your online community available whenever, wherever.


When you use a Mighty Network, your users will be able to access your branded community wherever they are across the web and via the Mighty Network app available on Android and iOS. When you upgrade to Mighty Pro, you can even have your own branded app in the app store!


This means that your members can interact with each other and your content whenever, in whatever way works for them.


Circle


Circle offers a clean and easy-to-navigate design for your online community website, but they don’t have a mobile app.


This means that members will have to access your online community through a webpage on their computers or through their phones which isn’t the most ideal experience.


The winner: Mighty Networks



We know that was a lot of information to go over, so thanks for sticking with us. After looking through the criteria for Mighty Networks vs. Circle, it’s pretty clear that Mighty Networks is the winner


We think what we’ve built at Mighty Networks provides a much better experience than what you’ll get at Circle. Thanks to our powerful course and community-building features you’ll be able to build the online community of your dreams.


Better yet, all of our features work across the web, iOS, and Android which gives your members more flexibility and accessibility to how they interact with each other and your content.


Sounds pretty great, yeah? Check us out!


What kind of online community will you build?


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