Managing your community doesn’t have to be a backbreaking grind.
Meaning, you don’t have to cobble together a variety of online community management tools to create your virtual community and keep up with it. You just have to find robust community management software that will get you where you need to go and grow as you do.
When you implement a piece of community management software to do all of the heavy lifting for you, you can focus on more important things, like structuring your community in a way where your members can master something essential, right now, together.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best community management software available today, drawing from the annual rankings from the tech site, G2. But first, we’ll define what community management software is and tell you what to look for when choosing.
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What is community management software?
Community management software is a software solution that gives its users the tools to create, host, and manage an online community for their business or brand.
While each community management tool has slightly different features and audiences, most of them have some sort of forum function for hosting and moderating user discussions – meaning that the root function of virtually all community management software is the creation of content and ability to interact with it.
What to look for in community management software
There’s a new crop of community management software options that give their users the most essential online community management tools in one place, enabling you to better sow the seeds for a thriving community.
The best of these options have a few features in common. To make the most of your growing community, you’re looking for community management software that lets you:
- Reach every single one of your members. This might be an obvious feature to look out for, but it’s also one of the most important. You want to be able to get in touch with all of your members, and you want all of your members to be able to get in touch with each other. The best community management software will allow you to message all of your members in a dedicated space, so you can reach 100% of them, 100% of the time. It will also offer a way for your members to send each other private, direct messages, and connect with each other through a central activity feed, polls, rich-media articles, and more. And it should offer all this with a native mobile app too, since 90% of your users expect it.
- Monetize your community. Here’s the thing: if you can offer your most engaged members a way to master a topic of shared interest together, and you can deliver results for them around that topic, you can charge for access to your community. Look for a dynamic platform with online community management tools that let you charge for access to your community, whether it’s through paid memberships, mastermind groups, or online course content.
- Diversify your offerings. When it comes to building and managing a community, there’s no “one size fits all” solution. Ideally, the online community management software you choose will let you customize your community to fit your specific needs, with the ability to create groups, make your community public, private, or secret, and so on.
Here’s what G2 says about how they rank community management software:
Online Community Management Software Definition Community management platforms function primarily to create a digital space for people (community members) to engage in productive discussion. In this space, community members are able to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.
Products in the Community Management Platforms category allow for constructive dialogue that can lead to a significant increase in employee and customer engagement. As a result, mature communities are able to address support issues, measure satisfaction, and ultimately build stronger relationships with community members.
Community management platforms are used across several industries to support specific business goals–their features can be specialized to focus on one aspect of community (Q and A, ideation, or link sharing) or more complex, hierarchical platforms (multi-tiered advocacy programs). Community management platforms integrate with website builders and web content management programs so community members can seamlessly interact within a brand’s online community or website. These platforms also integrate with help desk programs, which can provide community members with FAQ, Q and A tools, and minor troubleshooting solutions.
Luckily, there are a few community management platforms that offer one or more of the above features. Let’s take a look.
7 Community management software picks
1. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is a cultural software platform that gives you a powerful all-in-one community management tool. Mighty offers an intuitive, interactive platform, elegant and responsive courses, and a ton of other goodies built in.
With a Mighty Network, you build customizeable Spaces for your community, and in each Space you can deliver a mix of community, membership subscriptions, online courses, live streaming, events, and more, all under your own brand. And your own Mighty Network will be instantly available on the web, plus iOS and Android devices.
Mighty Networks was ranked the #1 community management software this year by the software ranking site G2. It has an overall customer satisfaction score of 90 – the highest of any community management software and had the highest market presence, scoring 88 on the ease of use, 87 on the ease of admin, and 91 on ease of doing business with.
Here’s what else a Mighty Network offers:
- Customizable Spaces
- Customized activity feeds
- Direct & group messaging
- Polls & questions
- Live streaming
- Short & long-form content
- Integrated events (+1-click Zoom scheduling)
- Native apps
- Charge for membership (main group or subgroups)
- Sell courses
- Bundle options
- Sell in 135 currencies
- Monetize with token-gating
- Create annual, monthly, or 1-time payments
Mighty Networks gives you the tools to offer online courses, mastermind groups, and more.
Mighty is one of the only community management software platforms that gives you a comprehensive set of community-management tools plus detailed analytics.
Here’s what people are saying:
“Lots of useful functionality, i.e. creating events with automated Zoom links. Easy to start conversations with group members, whether through private chat or public conversation -- love the option of creating polls to get people engaged. Helpful to be able to send an automated email notification to remind folks to open up the page. Good design with just enough possibility for customization! All in all, it's been a brilliant alternative to Facebook groups. I love it.”
“Mighty Networks is for sure the best community platform I've used for my group coaching programs. I've used Facebook, and then Kajabi, and Mighty Networks not only provides by far the most engagement, but my clients love that it's hosted on its own app on their phones. They don't have to spend so much time on Facebook or remember to go on Kajabi (because the notifications remind them to get onto Mighty Networks and engage in the community). It's really a great site – I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to create a paid community.”
No matter how you choose to structure and customize your community, your Mighty Network will always be available both on the web and via mobile apps on iOS and Android devices.
Hivebrite is a community management software solution catered to alumni networking.
It offers communities of alumni a variety of ways to get in touch with each other, and stay in touch. It has features like a branded mobile app with push and in-app notifications; an active job board for employment opportunities; and dedicated subgroups where members can find and connect with fellow members with similar goals.
G2 ranks Hivebrite with an overall score of 72 for 2022, with a 73 for customer satisfaction. It’s strongest when it comes to its forum function or even organizing in-person events. Compared to Mighty Networks, it’s missing some key features like hosting live digital events, like virtual conferences, live Q&A sessions, or even live group coaching sessions.
3. Vanilla Forums
Vanilla Forums is an online community management software that helps big brands add a community to their existing website... Its main community management tool is an interactive forum, which helps customers get in touch with the company to ask questions.
G2 ranks Vanilla Forums with an overall score of 64. While it's strong as a forum, Vanilla is missing many of the tools that are becoming common in a community solution, like a dedicated mobile app, the option to add courses, sell memberships, and more.
However, Vanilla Forums does well as a simple forum, giving its members the methods to publish content, form both public and private subgroups, and post questions and polls.
Tribe is a white-label platform that businesses can use to add a community to their website. In the forum, discussions can be organized into different “spaces” members can join, and they can also create their own profile. In many ways Tribe is similar to Vanilla Forums. But with the option to add a native mobile app to the company’s app, it’s a stronger competitor.
Tribe is the #3 ranked community management software on G2, with a score of 79, ranking highest for customer engagement, its all-in-one dashboard, and the ability to customize surveys.
Discourse is another forum software that lets its users create a community centered around a discussion board, with simple engagement and organization features. G2 ranks Discourse as the 9th best community management software, with an overall score of 60.
Discourse advertises its code as “free,” and it is posted on GitHub, but you’d need to pay for hosting of some sort and have the knowledge to install it. This means that most people would be stuck hiring a developer and probably paying more than for many of the alternatives on this list. Discourse also has limited video options and no capability to host events or courses.
Discourse is probably best for those with a high level of coding knowledge or the willingness to hire someone to achieve a near-custom build.
6. Wild Apricot
Wild Apricot is community management software that’s built for non-profits and associations, giving them tools to build member databases and reach their people, collect membership fees and dues, create their own websites, and run live events.
Members of the main purchasing organization can also use Wild Apricot to create sub-websites with a custom, drag and drop tool. This would be useful, as an example, for regional chapters of a national association.
Wild Apricot also integrates with many other systems a company might be using, with a robust email platform and useful analytics options.
G2 ranks Wild Apricot with a score of 40, with a customer satisfaction score of 26.
Memberium is a WordPress membership plugin that lets its users add a basic membership function to their WordPress website.
With features like creating online courses, gating premium WordPress content for members only, and integrating with other LMS plugins like LearnDash, Memberium is a good option for those with a WordPress site who don’t want to switch to an all-in-one community management software.
G2 ranks Memberium with a total score of 29.
Conclusion - Try Mighty Networks for free!
With a Mighty Network, there’s no need to pick and choose online community management tools from different places.
You’ll get all of the best community management tools you need to create a vibrant community and structure it in a way that fits both your needs and the needs of your members. Plus, a Mighty Network also gives you the potential to both reach all of your people and monetize your community with memberships, subscriptions, and online courses, available on every device: the web, iOS, and Android.
This is your chance to not only deliver amazing results to your members, but to work smarter, not harder, on the community that will get them there.