Right now is a great time to choose a software platform to build an online community.
So many of us need more community in our lives. For some, that might mean finding an online community for fitness and wellness. For others, that could mean searching for like-minded people that are newly entering the job market.
Whatever the case may be, there are a number of software platforms that are known for their focus on building online communities.
Tribe, a cloud-based community platform, has grown in popularity among those interested in how they can build a place for their followers to interact. But there are actually many other companies on the market that will offer you more robust options, tools, and potential for growth.
Below, we’re going to look at the best Tribe alternatives. But first, let’s take a look at what an online community platform is, and how you can foster a thriving community with one.
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In this article...
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 people who share a common interest and work together to achieve it.
But online communities have a number of benefits that physical ones don’t. They are more accessible to a wider range of people and are much easier to scale with your community’s growth.
The best Tribe alternatives will provide you not only with the tools to build a thriving community, but also features to expand the scope of your offerings as your community grows.
What makes a thriving community?
A thriving community is created by bringing like-minded people together and providing them a number of opportunities to interact with one another.
Successful communities clearly structure how their members build relationships with one another in their journey toward accomplishing their goals. They also tend to have three major features:
A clear purpose for joining the community. This might seem obvious, but the most lively communities are the ones where members have a clear idea of why they are together. Clear messaging means that everyone in the community is aware of what their main goal is and the steps they need to take to achieve it.
Many ways to interact with each other. A community can only thrive if you provide your members with numerous ways to interact with each other. Some features we love are discussion boards with commenting, direct messaging, member profiles, breakout groups, and text chat.
Additional incentives for sticking around. One great thing about communities is that they grow, change, and reach new heights. When choosing the best Tribe alternatives it was important to us choose software 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.
When you have these three aspects in the mix as you build your online community, it’s a lot easier to keep your members excited, motivated, and along for the ride.
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The benefits of choosing Tribe
Tribe became a major player in the online community space by focusing on what sustains online communities. They have solid features that encourage interactions between members such as:
- A fully-customizable community page that integrate with your existing website.
- Discussion boards, polls, Q&As.
- Member profiles.
- Breakout groups.
In addition to a solid suite of features for sustaining community interaction, Tribe also has tools in place to monitor the analytics of your community interactions.
This can give you more insight into members’ habits (such as what content they’re loving, and what content they’re avoiding). Plus, Tribe also offers an activity feed, so members can stay up to date on what’s been happening when they’re away.
The downsides of choosing Tribe
While Tribe does offer some good features for designing your online community…for the most part, you’ll need an existing website to implement them. On top of that, they don’t allow you to create online courses, so you’re limiting the scope of what you can do with your content in the future. We think it’s great to choose a platform that focuses on the importance of online communities, but why limit yourself to only that when you can have it all?
The best Tribe alternatives actually give you the online community features they offer in addition to online course features and paid memberships.
When you choose Tribe, you’re foregoing the opportunity to launch an online course and membership that can drive growth for your brand.
On top of that, we’re in 2022, members should be able to access your website across any device whenever they’d like! If you go with Tribe, you won’t have access to a mobile app.
3 best Tribe alternatives
1. Mighty Networks
The best cultural software platform
Mighty Networks has all of the features you’d want in a Tribe alternative. Mighty is a powerful cultural software platform that lets you bring together community, courses, content, and commerce. That means that Mighty takes you beyond community, letting you craft your own culture. And our flexible Spaces mix in live streaming, live events, messaging and chat, discussion forums, long and short-form content options, an awesome LMS, and more!
When you build on Mighty, you’re not only getting industry-leading online community features. You’re also gaining access to a wide range of options for expanding your brand.
On top of amazing online community features, Mighty Network enables creators to build premium online courses. From there, you can offer those courses on their own or as an added bonus to their membership within their community. While these are not all of the features Mighty Network offers, here are some we love:
- A powerful website builder to design a website that grows with your brand.
- A flexible and feature-rich online course builder so you can design online courses that promote community interaction. We’re talking about blogs, recorded videos, native livestreaming in your Mighty Network, polls, discussion boards, breakout groups, and more.
- Paid membership options so you monetize your brand in numerous ways.
- A native mobile app that is available across web, iOS, and Android apps. So your members can access your website wherever they are.
Mighty Networks is a great Tribe alternative because of its flexibility in offering you tools to create a website for your community.
In addition to an awesome website, the ability to split members into smaller groups (through paid memberships or online courses) is incredibly valuable and provides further potential for interactions between members.
Mighty Networks is revolutionizing e-commerce for digital subscription services in the same way Shopify did for physical products.
It's not a Facebook Group, so your people may not want to follow you to another platform beyond where they spend a lot of their time already (even if they already followed you off Facebook to an online course platform).
Hivebrite is a good Tribe alternative for those focused on the data behind their online communities.
Much of what Hivebrite focuses on is developing features to make it easier for you to work with the data from your online community. When you have raw data, you can more easily send out mass updates which is a big feature Hivebrite focuses on. Below are some other features we like:
- Event management features like a calendar that can sync with important updates.
- Invitation emails to send to members.
- Automated newsletters.
- Member profiles.
Hivebrite also offers the ability to create groups within the community Additionally, they have a mobile app, meaning members can interact with the community on the go.
While Hivebrite has great features for building and tracking your community engagement, they are fairly impersonal.
When choosing a Tribe alternative, you’ll want a place that does more than just tell you the raw data about your community. You also want options to create interactions between members beyond commenting and posting on discussion boards.
Hivebrite’s platform often emphasizes hands-off approaches to community engagement which makes member retention much harder.
Why should someone stick around in a community when it’s clear the leader isn’t around?
Discourse is another player in the online community landscape and a good Tribe alternative if you’re mainly interested in providing a space (that’s a bit…sparse) for conversations. Discourse is an online community platform that wants to bring back discussion boards in a new way.
Discourse provides features that emphasize growing a community and getting members talking to one another in a variety of ways. They are 100% open source and allow you to create mailing lists, forums, long form chat rooms, and more. Here are some other cool features they offer:
- Designed for mobile devices.
- Translation into 45 languages.
- Blog integration, anonymous posting, and direct messaging.
- Private groups and robust moderation options.
We believe platforms that provide you with the tools to make member interactions effortless and easy are the best Tribe alternatives.
While we think Discourse is a good Tribe alternative for spurring conversations in your online community, they don’t offer much else for you to experiment with.
Because Discourse has focused so heavily on their discussion features, they don’t have options for paid memberships or online courses. It’s great that their discussion boards make it easy to communicate, but the best community platforms give you options. Providing members many different kinds of experiences is highly beneficial.
If you choose Discourse, you’re stuck trying to reinvent the wheel of discussion boards time and time again.
Want to try Mighty?
When you choose Mighty Networks you’re not only choosing the most cost-effective option of the bunch. You’re also investing in a platform that grows with you.
Each new member that joins the online community is providing additional value to your members. With a robust suite of features for online community building, paid memberships, and online courses you’re getting more than Tribe can offer.
While Discourse and Hivebrite both are doing solid work in their own spaces, Mighty Networks is clearly the best choice.
Now comes the fun part, putting in motion your community building plans.