Online communities are growing in popularity, as more and more people join a movement that we call the creator economy. On top of this, people are looking for more ways to be connected and to find community around things that matter to them. It’s an amazing thing to be able to meet people from all around the world, brought together by a shared passion. Regardless of difference and culture, online communities create powerful connections and promote phenomenal personal growth.
So if you’ve decided to build an online community, one of the first questions you’ll probably come to is: Where should I host this thing? It’s a little overwhelming for would-be Hosts. Especially since new platforms keep popping up year after year.
How do you know what’s right for you and your audience?
In this article, we’ll compare two very different but popular community-building options: Discord and Mighty Networks. We’ll show you how each one works, the differences, and help you decide where you should host the wonderful online community you’ve already started imagining.
In this article
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: What are they?
Mighty Networks is an all-in-one platform that gives you an amazing space to build your community, create and sell a course, and bring people together around a shared interest. It was founded in 2017 around a new vision for online content creation focused on the power of community. It gives Hosts all the tools they need to bring members together, with things like polls, live streaming, and great events.
Discord is an online live streaming and chat platform that lets users create “servers” (a community). It started out as a platform for gamers. Since PC games weren’t always designed with any way for the players to connect and talk, Discord was the answer to building a community around video games. Although it still has a huge gamer community on it, it’s evolved over the past few years to host other types of communities through its online forums and voice chat functions.
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: Judgment criteria
If you’re looking to build on either Mighty Networks or Discord, it’s important that you actually know what you’re trying to build. The platforms are completely different, so which one is right for you will depend on your use case.
First of all, a great community platform should give you a lot to work with as you serve your members. You should have access to a ton of features that let you foster relationships, build connections, and just generally create a great experience for everyone.
With all the work that goes into creating and hosting an online community, many creators also choose to monetize. So it’s important to evaluate how one would go about implementing a monetization strategy for each of these options, and how easy it is to do that. Even if you’re not thinking about monetization right now, it’s often something people move to as their communities grow and members want more from them.
A good community-building platform should also give you the option to add your own flavor to your community. While not everyone thinks of this, it’s an amazing option to be able to add your personal touch to your community space. This could be things like your brand colors or logos, but great customization goes beyond this, letting your community become an extension of your brand in every touchpoint with members.
Each of these platforms has the option to bring members together live. So if your focus is on creating live experiences for your members, how far can you take this? We’ll rank each of these platforms based on their ability to not only create community, but also host amazing events that your members will love.
App & Access
Last, but DEFINITELY not least, we’ll talk about apps and access. Can your members benefit from your community wherever they are? Can they get notified about new content? Great options for apps and accessibility are super important.
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: Community features
Building an online community isn’t just a matter of slapping up a space and hoping that users come. A good platform works with you to help you reach and grow your members and make sure that each and every one of them has an amazing time in your community and can’t wait to come back.
Mighty Networks gives you a ton of community-building features. The community itself is designed to be immersive and engaging. Each member gets a profile that they take with them across your platform, and you can create things like automatic onboarding material (especially great “welcome” videos). Your community members also get a personalized activity feed, where they can see what’s going on in the community and get updates from members and topics they’ve followed.
As a Host, you’ve got a lot to work with to make your community great. Like Discord, you can live stream and create discussions. But you can also message all members, run polls (which work AMAZING for getting your members involved), and create great live events (more on this in a minute)
Community features - Summary
- Interactive polls
- Live streaming
- Personalized activity feed
- Welcome sequences and onboarding
- Easy video hosting
- Discover section
- Options to sell memberships and courses (more on this below)
Discord gives you the option to create a server and to dedicate spaces to existing sub-discussions through text or voice channels. It has some of the same features as Mighty Networks for users to chat with each other, fairly intuitive discussion boards, and the option to upload files into your posts.
One feature Discord has which Mighty Networks doesn’t have is the option to add GIFs and other funny characters into your posts through the web app–but some of these features require paying for a premium plan.
Community features - Summary
- Discussion board and dedicated channels
- Live streaming and chat
- Emojis and GIFs
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: Monetization
Mighty Networks gives you a ton of different options to monetize your community. To begin with, you can sell a membership to the community itself, which is the only monetization feature that Discord sort of has. But there’s so much more than this. You can create and charge for courses and webinars, you can build and charge for dedicated subgroups or masterminds for your members, and you can bundle any of these.
And the great thing about Mighty Networks is that it gives you room to grow into your monetization. Not interested in charging for anything right now? Just want to focus on launching and growing your community? That’s great! And if, at some point, your community takes off and you decide you want to monetize, you’ve got a lot to work with.
Monetization - Summary
- Sell courses or access to events
- Sell memberships to the whole community
- Sell membership to subgroups
- Bundle any of these features
Discord has recently added a feature called its "Partner Program,” through which server hosts can apply for the ability to sell plans. The feature isn’t fully rolled out yet, and not every creator who applies will be approved. This means that if you do all your work to create a community on Discord, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to use Discord to monetize. If your community took off and you wanted to monetize, you’d be looking at either stitching together third-party platforms to make it work, or else looking at the task of trying to move your community to a new platform.
The other thing to understand about monetizing on Discord is that, even if you do get approved, they take a 10% cut of your earnings--which is pretty huge.
Monetization - Summary
- Apply for access to sell memberships (approval required & Discord takes 10%)
- Use third-party programs
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: Customization
Mighty Networks gives you a ton of options to customize your community to fit your own brand. Even with the Community Plan, you can add your own branding, colors, logos, and images. You have the option to customize welcome sequences like we talked about above. You even have the option to customize the language around your community. (For example, don’t like the word “course” to describe your offering? You can change it to anything you want and it will automatically be reflected across the platform.)
You get to add your personality as you brand your own community, which will be reflected in how your community shows up on the app too. Finally, you can build all this under your own domain name so that your members can feel like they’re totally in your space–and the Mighty Networks set-up process walks you through it so it’s super easy!
Customization - Summary
- Add your brand colors and logos
- Build under your own domain name
- Customize every aspect of your community, from your courses to events to subgroups and more.
- Your brand is reflected in the app
The only real customization feature you get with Discord is the ability to personalize your server with an icon. While that may not be a dealbreaker to everyone, if you don’t care about having your community reflect your brand identity, it’s a limitation to those who want to create a community that looks and feels unique–instead of just like every other Discord server.
Customization - Summary
- Add your own icon
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: Events
Mighty Networks gives you some great options when it comes to events. Each community has an "Events" tab within it, and you can set up an event weeks in advance by filling in a bit of information (title, description, image, etc.). If you want to charge for an event, you could build it within a subgroup; this would give you the ability to “sell tickets,” run the event live, and also create a ton of discussion and hype around it. One other neat feature Mighty Networks has is built-in Zoom functionality–so you can set up a one-click Zoom link for your event in the platform itself.
Events - Summary
- Charge admission (if you want)
- Events for the whole community or subgroups
- Chat & member feedback during the event
- Live streaming options
- Automatic, built-in Zoom scheduling
- RSVP and email reminders
Discord has some neat event options, too. While you can’t really charge for an event (without the use of other platforms), you can set up a time for everyone to come and open up a voice channel or video live stream. With live streaming, you can also share a screen. Some Discord channels host text events too, where users join at the same time and can interact live with each other.
Events - summary
- Live stream and voice options
- Users can chat (voice or text) during an event
- Schedule an event in your server
Mighty Networks vs. Discord: Apps & access
Mighty Networks has a fantastic app that works on every operating system. Your users can easily find your community on the app, and it will match the experience in the web app. Notifications are built-in, and your users will get email notifications about activity in the community (note–you can adjust your notification settings).
Discord also has an app that works across all devices. Members can generally access your server from where they’re at and get notified about new activity through the app. (Note that the email notifications are a little spotty if you only use the web app.)
In short, both Mighty Networks and Discord give you great apps and access options, and either one will let your members take their community with them.
At the end of the day, both Mighty Networks and Discord have pros and cons–what’s right for you depends on what you want out of a community. If you want to build a free space where you can host simple discussions, Discord might be the right option (especially if your audience are gamers and are used to it).
If you want an all-in-one platform that gives you the option to not only grow a community, but also to monetize it with courses, memberships and more, and to have comprehensive interactive features, Mighty Networks might be a better option.
As you’re trying to make up your mind, why not try Mighty Networks? It’s free for 14 days–no credit card required. Come check it out and see how far you can take your community!