If you’re getting ready to launch an online community for your brand and business, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re looking to run a membership community, create amazing events, run online courses, and/or get your own white-label app for all this, there are some great options.
In this article, we’re going to look at two of them: Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic. We’ll walk you through what each of these platforms has to offer, their features and use-cases, and help you decide which one is right for you.
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In this article...
1. Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic: Who are they?
Mighty Networks is an all-in-one cultural software platform that brings together community, courses, content, and commerce. Mighty offers flexible Spaces that bring features like forums, courses with pre-recorded or live teaching, live events, live streaming, custom course communities, messaging all members, a ton of content options, plus Q&As. It’s ranked the #1 community management software by G2.
For established brands and companies, Mighty Pro offers completely branded apps and totally custom communities, and we work with you to build it. That means that, even if you’re starting small with a community, you can start from a few members for $33/mo and grow to a fully branded, custom community and your own app without changing platforms.
Higher Logic has two primary markets, and they create slightly different products for each. Thrive is built for associations, mixing a member management tool with their Vanilla community engine.
Vanilla Forums is the corporate solution to add customer forums to a company website. Thrive lets you manage member subscriptions and run events. Vanilla Forums lets you gather your customers for discussions and answer questions from them. We’ll compare a bit of both solutions below.
2. Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic: Comparison factors
- Community Engine
- Events & Courses
3. Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic: Community Engine
Every Mighty Network comes with a powerful community engine first and foremost. This includes forum functions, short-form posts and full articles, videos, polls and Q&As, and full notifications. Member profiles are built in, you can see who’s online and members nearby, and you can chat with members individually or in groups.
Each Mighty Network also gives you the option to add Spaces, letting you divide your members up by interest. Each Space can be individually branded, and each has its own member list, chat, and events, AND you can sell access to Spaces or bundle it with things like courses. We’ll get into this more below.
You can add unlimited Hosts, and moderation is simple too – it’s all built-in. And notifications come built in on the app or by email, and you can add a daily or weekly email digest. Finally, Mighty Networks gives you a detailed, comprehensive set of community analytics so you can see what’s working and what’s not.
The Higher Logic community solutions run on a forum engine that allows for member discussions and posting various types of content. One neat thing is the ability to post directly to a discussion board from email for those users who don’t spend time in the community – a nifty feature for associations whose members may have varying levels of interest about actually joining.
Higher Logic communities also give you the ability to add subgroups and events (more on this below), and there’s a suite of third-party integrations to connect with other software including Salesforce, Hootsuite, and Zendesk. The community engine itself also comes with a set of moderation features to give you some control of managing posts and users and the option to organize discussions into different groups or chapters (if you’re running an association). The Higher Logic Vanilla community also connects with Thrive to give you membership and subscription management tools to help you reach your members.
Overall the community engine is good, with a few quirks on the backend. Users on G2 noted some trickiness with getting notifications to work well (they have to be enabled on the back-end to work at all). But Higher Logic has worked to improve this feature and lets you turn on daily or weekly digest features for each community you belong to.
4. Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic: Events & courses
Mighty Networks gives you a built-in, integrated virtual event platform, both for the whole community and for individual courses and subgroups. The events make it really simple to schedule and host your members for everything from a giant webinar to an intimate discussion.
It comes with native live streaming, meaning you can instantly go live to your community from your computer or phone. BUT if you prefer to run events in Zoom, Mighty Networks also comes with a built-in Zoom integration that works really well too. With RSVPs, event discussions, and message all event attendee features, it’s a powerful and versatile event platform.
And while we’re on the subject of getting in front of your members, Mighty Networks also gives you an integrated LMS for courses on the Business Plan and Mighty Pro. This means that you can easily build awesome courses and – your choice – you can either teach them as a live course or pre-record them and let them run asynchronously.
Of course, you can also sell these courses! Mighty Networks makes it really easy to create plans and bundles to reach all kinds of people, share sales links, and build landing pages for your course sale.
Higher Logic gives you the option of running events with their Events Plus add-on. This comes with registration and payment features, and lets you advertise the event within a community and invite members. It gives you the features to build an event website and add your own custom event branding and design. And Events Plus also integrates with CRM or Association Management Software.
The events feature of Higher Logic also lets you add advertising and sponsorship to your event, which is a good feature for those organizations that need to keep sponsors happy for revenue. The one downside to the Higher Logic event platform is that the design is quite clunky. The interfaces do what they’re supposed to do, but it looks a bit dated.
Higher Logic is okay for running events but doesn’t really have the features to do things like live streaming or courses, which makes Mighty Networks and Mighty Pro a much more comprehensive option here, feature-wise. Higher Logic’s biggest selling point on the event is that it’s made with associations in mind, so it might work well if you’re trying to run an event off of your existing association management software.
5. Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic: Customization
Mighty Networks gives you the ability to create your network under your own branding and color scheme with every single plan. This includes options like customizing language – Don’t like the word “courses”? Call it “training” instead!, customizing new member experiences and discovery features, and building out custom landing pages for your community and courses.
With Mighty Pro, you take customization a step further. For Pro customers, we work completely with you to build out your app and community totally under your own brand. You bring the design and branding elements and leave the rest to us! We’ve built totally custom-branded communities for TED, Fortune, the B2B SaaS platform Mindbody, Oiselle, Lifebook, Marisa Peer, and the University of Cambridge. We've also helped creators like Adriene Mishler – host of the wildly popular YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene, and writer and speaker Sadie Robertson Huff.
When it comes to customization options, Higher Logic Vanilla comes with a whole bunch of add-ons you can add to your community. This includes things like avatar options for members, a badge system, upvotes and downvotes, and different link types. Some of these add-ons are really neat and add functionality. Some of them feel like they should have just been included out of the box – things like polls, Q&As, and full member lists and profiles are built into Mighty Networks without needing an add-on. So this might be a blessing or a curse, depending on which add-ons you need and want.
When it comes to design customization, the Higher Logic team does work a lot with existing brands to add a community to their existing website or app. This means that the community can be totally executed under your brand.
While the community look and feel are customizable and admins can update layouts and themes, it can be challenging to do this work yourself. Most branding changes require CSS changes, which require coding knowledge or else help from Higher Logic staff to implement. And users on G2 report that reaching out to the company for help doesn’t always come with a quick response.
6. Mighty Networks vs. Higher Logic: Apps
Last, but not least, let’s talk apps. Every level of the Mighty Network plans comes with access to a great app. On the Community and Business Plans, this means a great, native app that operates under Mighty Networks’ brand. It’s got a 4.7-star rating in the App Store, and works for Android and iOS. Your members will download that app and find their community, and once they’re logged in they experience your brand within the app (and they stay logged in).
Mighty Pro takes the app experience a step further. Instead of seeing our app in the App Store or Google Play Store, your members will see your complete brand. This includes completely branded live streaming and courses. We work with you right from stage 1 to walk you through creating a custom app your members will love.
If that’s something that’s interesting to you, schedule a call with us and we’ll show you what you can do!
The Higher Logic app operates under the brand Vanilla. The app gives you a basic forum function and lets you create your own member profile. Conversations are organized by category, much like the desktop app, and you can comment on others’ posts and get notified about the latest activity. It also has Single Sign On and DMs built in. The app interface is pretty simple and is missing the features like running courses, comprehensive subgroups, or live streaming that Mighty Networks has.
The bottom line
Vanilla Forums/Higher Logic/Thrive works best for the uses it’s designed for: associations and customer communities. The forum functionality is pretty limited, but if you just want a space where your customers could come and get, say, product support, it would work okay.
Mighty Networks has a much wider base of features for growing and engaging your community, and also gives you the option to live stream, run courses, and has a better in-app event platform. In the long run, it’s better for people who want to launch and grow engaged communities, with a platform that looks amazing, and not have to worry about the headaches of designing and customizing with CSS.
These hold up in the G2 ratings too, where Mighty Networks is ranked top online community management software, including #1 easiest to use. Higher Logic Thrive is ranked #8 easiest to use while Vanilla is ranked 16th.
If you’re ready to start, why not give Mighty Networks a try?
If you’re ready to build a custom-white label app and community totally under your brand, schedule a call with us and we’ll show you what you can do with Mighty Pro.
And if you’re ready to start building, you can try Mighty Networks free for 14 days!