We need each other now more than ever. There’s something about humans, we’re wired to be in community. And as you’ve probably noticed, the way we’ve structured our modern world can leave us feeling lonely and disconnected.
The answer to finding community, for many of us, is not in diving into traditional communities. It’s in building new types of communities online. There are some great things about online communities, probably best of all is the ability to forge amazing friendships with people who share our interests – from all over the world!
If you’re ready to start or join an online community, there are lots of cool options to help you grow it and get it thriving. In this article, we’re going to focus on the thing every community needs: conversation! If you’re looking for a community chat app to host great conversations big and small, these 9 options have something for every need and every size of community.
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article…
1. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is an all-in-one community platform that brings together a versatile community engine with events, courses, live streaming and – you guessed it – an awesome chat app. You can chat 1:1 with fellow members OR chat in groups.
Mighty Networks makes it really easy to create subgroups, each with its own all-member chat, meaning you can run multiple group chats at once, easily. You can even charge for these discussions, or include them as part of a bundle – meaning that the community can become a business if you want. We have creators on Mighty Networks earning well over six figures from their communities. And if you decide you’d like to teach a course to your community, we do that too.
The other thing we should mention is that Mighty Networks has a solid built-in events platform, with things like one-click Zoom scheduling (in addition to the native live streaming we mentioned above), RSVPs, Q&As built-in, and a chat to go with each event.
In short, a Mighty Network is an awesome community chat app that helps you organize rich, complex conversations with lots of members. It helps you keep these organized, and lets you share different kinds of content. And it comes with the Mighty Network app for every community, which has a 4.7-star rating in the app store.
2. Mighty Pro
Mighty Pro is the totally white-label version of Mighty Networks. While Mighty Networks lets you build your own brand and customize your community, Mighty Pro takes this a step further and helps you build a completely custom app under your own brand. For established brands and companies, it’s the perfect white-label community chat app. And if you’re not ready to go pro yet, you can start with Mighty Networks and move to pro when you’re ready – without switching platforms or trying to move your members.
Mighty Pro has built apps for creators like Drew Binsky, Adriene Mishler, and Marisa Peers. If you’re ready for a custom, white-label chat app, schedule a call today and we’ll show you what you can do with Pro.
Geneva is a group chat app that comes with chat rooms, forums, audio, and video rooms to bring together conversations that are interesting to you. It also has post rooms, which can be used for more long-form content like a traditional blog or discussion forum. With DM functionality built-in, it comes with an events feature that lets you plan and host live events, including a calendar, RSVPs, and notifications when the event starts.
You have control over who comes into your chat group, with an application form you can opt for instead of open admission. You can grant different admin roles to your users and change user permissions. All said, Geneva is a great community chat app.
If you’ve ever spent time in an office, you’ve probably met Slack. It’s the community chat app for organizing teams, and it works well for this. With channels, a messaging function, and notifications, it’s really great for hosting conversations. Features like tagging and replies are built in, and so are emojis. You can connect different channels to your Slack app, meaning different conversations from different places can all be in the same app. And there are lots of integrations for Slack, with brands and products like Dropbox, Google Drive, Salesforce, Outlook, and Adobe.
All this gives you a lot to work with. Slack is a perfect community chat app for the workplace or for people who know each other. But it’s a bit limited for bringing together strangers and helping them become friends. It’s also sort of complicated for hosting live events, requiring connecting integrations and hacking solutions together – it’s not intuitive or native. And if you’re looking for a paid community chat, where members register and pay a fee to join, it’s not great for that either.
Slack is best for what it’s built for – workplace chats.
Discord is a community chat app that was designed for gamers to connect in real time. It’s best with text and voice, giving you the space to build your own “channel” that’s dedicated to a topic that interests you, as well as inviting members and organizing conversations.
Discord is centered around a forum feature, with customizable member roles. But you can also host a video streaming event on Discord, and a “Stage” event if you have the Stage mode. Discord connects to YouTube or Twitch fairly easily, and it’s got a solid app.
It’s good for communities of gamers, of course, as well as free communities that you don’t intend to monetize. If you decide you want to monetize your Discord community, you’ll probably have to move somewhere else.
6. Facebook Messenger
Ahh yes, the Facebook Messenger option. Of course, Facebook Messenger needs to be on any list of community chat apps. It’s free, well-known, and by this time your grandma and her friends all have accounts.
And Facebook Messenger is a really solid piece of technology. With chat, notifications, and lots of fun features from games to funny faces, it works well. Lots of people have the app, and it’s common for group chats.
HOWEVER, there are a couple of concerns about using Facebook Messenger as a community chat app. First of all, it really doesn’t work for larger chats. Have you ever been added to a chat like “Kat’s Surprise 25th Birthday Party” and watched as the 30 attendees all added their questions, comments, and random thoughts? It’s a nightmare. Your phone dings every 30 seconds and you probably muted it if not left the conversation altogether.
Facebook Messenger is perfect for small groups. It’s a nightmare for organizing larger conversations. This means that, as a community chat app, Facebook Messenger works for really small communities with really simple conversations.
Anything bigger and you’re better picking something else.
WhatsApp is Facebook’s conjoined twin – Facebook owns it – and it’s more popular outside of North America. In a similar way to Facebook Messenger, you can host a group chat in WhatsApp. But all the same limitations apply, making it good for a small, simple community chat and a nightmare for anything big and complex.
8. MS Teams
Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s answer to Slack. From its launch, it quickly grew bigger than Slack, especially during the pandemic. It’s a similar app to Slack, created for organizing work conversations. As such, you can create different groups to chat with and search for members of your team.
MS Teams has much better event functionality than Slack does, it works well for scheduling and hosting team meetings, especially if your company uses Outlook as an email provider. And even without having Teams downloaded, people coming to your meeting can join via the Microsoft Edge browser.
All these features mean that Teams works great for the office. But how does it hold up as a community chat app?
Well, you can host group chats. Teams also has a free function for “Home” use, so even if you aren’t in the office you can chat with family and friends. That means that it’s slightly better than Slack for holding a community chat, because of its built-in event functionality. BUT, like Slack, it’s hard to grow an online community of people who don’t know each other. And it’s hard to organize discussions. There’s no real way to catch up on recent activity without simply scrolling up and reading the whole thread.
Telegram is a community chat app that’s a bit like email meets SMS. It has good member chat features – users can send each other photos, videos, and files. You can also hold a voice or video call with Telegram.
Telegram is also easier to host community conversations with than many other messaging apps, because you can create large groups and channels for broadcasting to your subscribers. The only problem with the group function of Telegram is that your group can’t really go back and forth and build connections. Subscribers within a group can click links and polls, but it’s more of a broadcasting tool than a community-building tool.
The one good thing about Telegram that some of the community chat apps are missing is the option to monetize. You can sell subscriptions, which apps like Facebook and Slack are primarily missing. So you can build a community business with Telegram. But the main challenge is that users can’t really get to know each other – the communities are pretty one-directional.
Ready to start?
If you’re ready to start growing with a community chat app, come give Mighty Networks a try! We’ve got a powerful community engine that brings together every type of content you could imagine: long-form, short-form, video, and text. Plus, organize conversations by subgroups and topics, and your members will always see what’s relevant to them with a customized discovery section. Add in live events and live streaming, plus the ability to charge for access in any currency OR monetize with social-tokens, and you’ve got everything you need to create a community that thrives.
But don’t take our word for it. Come try it free for 14 days! No credit card required.