Looking for alternatives to Circle.so and evaluating different community solutions? Here are the 10 best alternatives, plus a breakdown of what makes each one unique. But, first, let’s review some interesting statistics and how community software caters to different use cases.
Customers expect more from brands than ever before. Expectations get even higher when building engaged communities.
More than 83 percent of internet users share content every month. This number is snowballing with participation in online communities, where 66 percent of people join to share similar interests.
Internet users are moving from sharing as a method of broadcasting themselves into a way of sharing that has community at its heart. —GWI, The Rise of Online Communities
What’s an online community platform?
Community platforms (community software) give you all the tools you need to provide a unique public or private space where members share content, ideas, and experiences. The sharing component is vital. In online communities, both the community founders and members share.
A community is an epicenter for engagement rather than having to go to several places for information and affirmation. Another perk is that the communities and content appear in search results, making them discoverable.
Who uses community platforms?
These community engagement tools have become popular among creators, brands, businesses, and professional and private organizations.
Creators like coaches, masterminds, and other thought leaders, use communities to share online courses and rally members around their shared interests.
Branded communities leverage the common interests of their remembers through discussion forums, content, events, and more.
Support communities center on knowledge bases, self-service customer support, and crowdsourcing answers as inroads to greater retention.
Public and private organization membership sites become central bases for engagement and communication.
Circle (Circle.so) defines itself as an “all-in-one community platform for creators and brands.” Some of Circle’s most recognizable users include SPI Pro, GrowthDay, and Makerpad. Creators and influencers who want to monetize the content and experiences choose Circle communities so they can drive paid subscriptions and memberships as part of their community building.
Circle’s ideal use case:
Circle is a fit for creator communities, especially those with a training or learning component.
Circle’s top features
Teachable integration—Since Circle was the brainchild of Teachable employees, one of the main uses is building e-learning communities. This integration is available on all paid plans for Circle and Teachable.
Unlimited in-person and virtual events—Create a space for each event type and let members RSVP with one click.
Access levels and monetization—Gate or ungate different areas of your community, collect subscription fees, accept payments, and offer upsells and trials.
Group chat—Invite up to 50 members into a group chat room. You may also assign admins and moderators to each chat room.
White-label customization—Apply your brand look and feel to your community. Your community will also have its own custom domain. Levels of customization increase with each paid plan.
Circle’s pricing and plans
Circle offers three monthly plans: Basic $39 USD, Professional $99 USD, and $399 USD Enterprise $399 USD. Each plan comes with a 14-day free trial and there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bettermode: a customizable and unified community platform for businesses
Bettermode is a full-fledged community platform popular for its customizability using a block-based builder, premade templates, and an app ecosystem to enhance the community, direct third-party integrations, and tools to embed the community into products and websites.
Inspired by popular social networks, Bettermode leverages the engagement and networking tools popularized on social media sites to improve customer engagement and retention.
Businesses in the software and tech industry, e-commerce, internet, and education space build communities with Bettermode to create brand communities. Top customers building community with Bettermode include ConvertKit, UXPin, Shell, ASUS, IBM, Motorola, and more.
Bettermode's ideal use case
Suitable for mid-market and enterprise companies. Bettermode is perfect for brand-led communities that want to engage customers, drive customer education, improve customer success, and build thought leadership.
Bettermode's top features and functionalities
Find out what makes Bettermode stand out:
Premade templates: Get started easily with best practices for different community spaces using templates for discussions, Q&A, events, resource center, and more! Of course, you can further customize based on your unique needs.
Customization: Bettermode Platform offers community building blocks to visually build every aspect of your community without touching a line of code. Select, arrange, and configure the Blocks such as accordion, rich text, quick links, members, iFrame, call to action, and more to create distinct communities. Customize everything from the layout and sidebar options to header and footer options.
Embed tools: Bring community experience to your mobile app, web app, and website with powerful embed tools. Improve member engagement and grow your community!
App Store: The Bettermode App Store features a growing list of apps so you can install the apps that are right for you and add new functionality to your community.
Integrations: Integrations with third-party tools are also offered as apps. Connect your community to the tools you already use with a continually increasing set of integrations. Since Bettermode is focused on businesses, the integration roadmap features software such as Salaforce, HubSpot, Zendesk, ActiveCampaign, etc.
Developer Portal: Bettermode offers a robust developer portal with API, Webhooks, and a template engine. This enables Bettermode's customers to extend the functionality of the community any way they like by building custom apps. Using Bettermode SDK it is also possible to fully customize the user interface and build a community with Bettermode Platform as the backend.
Best practices: Enjoy an extensive library of pre-built space templates inspired by successful communities. Kickstart your community with best practices using flexible space templates as a foundation, then customize them to fit your specific needs.
Bettermode's pricing and plans
Bettermode has the following subscription plans: Advanced (starts from $599 USD/month), and Enterprise. These rates apply when you pay annually. The Enterprise plan requires custom pricing based on the customers' needs and offers data residency, enterprise-grade security, audit log, and uptime SLA.
The following tools are full community management platforms used to create private and public communities based on different features and functionalities.
Mighty Networks has made a name for itself by helping more than 10,000 influencers, masterminds, coaches, entrepreneurs, and individual content creators of all kinds build personal communities with paid memberships.
Mighty Network’s ideal use case
Mighty Networks is best for individuals, solopreneurs, and smaller organizations with communities that feature events.
Mighty Networks’ top features
Personalization—Each community member has a unique activity feed.
Welcome, and discovery areas—These sections help members get to know the communities.
Unlimited events—Build deeper relationships with members through live-streamed or virtual events. Select plans also offer a native online course builder.
Unlimited hosts, members, and moderators—Available on every plan.
iOs and Android mobile apps—Let users and members access communities while on the go.
Mighty Networks’ pricing and plans
Mighty Networks has three plans: Community $33 USD, Business $99 USD, and Pro with custom pricing. These rates apply when you pay annually. Each plan also includes a free trial.
GroupApp is a newer entry into the community platform market for knowledge creators, like instructors, authors, coaches, and organizations. Knowing its audience, GroupApp also has a native drag-and-drop course builder.
GroupApp’s ideal use case
GroupApp is best for individuals, solopreneurs, and smaller organizations who want to monetize content.
GroupApp’s top features
Plug-and-play community builder—Choose a name, determine if you’d like your community to be public or private, then pick a template and color palette.
Discussion channels—Create different streams for key topics.
Instant messaging—Host group chats and send direct messages.
Membership subscriptions—Monetize the knowledge you share with paid access. This also requires a Stripe integration and subscription.
Paid downloads—Charge for content, like e-books and guides, and subscriptions.
GroupApp’s pricing and plans
GroupApp has a Basic $19 USD, Pro $49 USD, and Premium $179 USD plan. These rates apply when you pay annually. A 14-day free trial is also available for each plan.
Like Mighty Networks and GroupApps, Kajabi is inspired by creators and entrepreneurs. Its communities are designed to help these individuals build paid membership communities around the courses, ideas, and services they provide.
Kajabi’s ideal use case
Kajabi is best for individuals, solopreneurs, and smaller organizations who need a native course builder.
Kajabi’s top features
Content creation—Produces online courses, coaching programs, podcasts, blog posts, etc.
Marketing—Leverage a full suite of marketing tools and templates from emails to offers.
Customer relationship management—Also built into the platform.
Discussions and events—Get members talking, sharing, and connecting.
No outside apps or plugins—Kajabi either provides you with the tools or gives you the ability to build them yourself.
Kajabi’s pricing and plans
Kajabi has a Basic $119 USD, Monthly $159 USD, and Pro $319 USD plan. These rates apply when you pay annually. A 14-day free trial is also available for each plan.
Professional and educational alumni groups, volunteer organizations, and non-profits use Hivebrite for their community portals. Notable clients include the World Wildlife Fund, University of Notre Dame, Columbia Business School, American Heart Association, and CERN lab.
Hivebrite’s ideal use case
Hivebrite offers member communities for professional and educational organizations.
Hivebrite’s top features
A building-block approach—Choose your signup mode, member profiles, access rights, features, and branding.
Information- and event-centric—Designed to meet the needs of the communities it serves specifically.
Job board—Share employment, volunteer, and professional opportunities.
Monetization—Collect membership and event fees.
iOs and Android mobile apps—Provide community access from mobile devices.
Hivebrite’s pricing and plans
Hiverbrite offers custom pricing based on the client’s needs.
True to its name, Discourse is all about real-time conversations, which are the heart of this platform. Car Talk, Frostbite, Western Digital, and CCP Games use Discourse communities.
Discourse’s ideal use case
Discourse is a forum software primarily used by organizations. There are both cloud-hosted and self-hosted versions.
Discourse’s top features
Single-page format—Because it’s a forum, Discourse conversations are contained within one page for simplicity.
Just-in-time loading—Automatically loads the newest conversations to the top of the page.
Dynamic notifications—Let members know when someone has replied or tagged them.
Standard and advanced plugins—Integrate chat, subscriptions, and other features.
Open source—Lets you customize and even self-host if needed.
Discourse’s pricing and plans
Discourse has a Standard $100 USD, Business $300 USD, and Enterprise plan. The Enterprise plan has custom pricing and all plans start with a 14-day free trial. Educational and non-profit discounts are also available.
The following tools are used like community management platforms, either in place of or alongside full online communities.
In their own words, Discord is “a place dedicated to talking and hanging out with your friends, family, and communities.” Not a social media platform with an algorithm deciding what you’ll see, Discord is more like Slack for individuals and the unincorporated set. School clubs, gaming groups, and enthusiasts of all kinds use Discord to discuss common interests.
Discord’s ideal use case
Discord is a user-controlled conversational space serving mostly non-commercial audiences. Most Discord spaces (servers) are private.
Discord’s top features
User-driven—Discord members decide the topics and who they want to connect with.
Values-based—They have an entire section of their website dedicated to safety and guidelines.
Voice, video, and text chat—All the essentials.
Discord’s pricing and plans
While Discord’s free version is their most popular, they also have a paid Nitro version that’s USD 9.99 per month or USD 99.99 per year.
Individuals, organizations, and businesses use Facebook groups as their sole community or in addition to other community platforms. Knowledge providers will also use Facebook groups to monetize their content or services. Groups are as varied as their members with top groups ranging from math formulas to wrestling.
Ideal use cases for Facebook groups
Facebook is a good starting point if you’re testing the waters by building a community for specific audiences. However, many users find that members get distracted by different content feeds. There’s also the risk of Facebook’s algorithms inadvertently disabling legitimate groups, which can take time to resolve.
Top features of Facebook groups
Public and private settings—Group admins can determine who joins.
Events—Many groups host live events to engage members.
Discussion tools—Chats, reels, Q&As, polls, and prompts are all popular.
How much do Facebook groups cost?
A Facebook group is free and all you need is a Facebook account. However, any advertising you use to promote your group or event is paid.
Where can I learn more about Facebook groups?
See the Facebook Help Center article about groups.
Reddit is a social media platform that lets users post, comment, and vote on topics and responses. You can create communities (subreddits), but you have to be a member for at least 30 days and earn enough karma.
Reddit’s ideal use case
Reddit lends itself to niche communities centered on conversations. Certain businesses and brands have leveraged Reddit, but you have to be fluent in the rules and culture of the platform.
Reddit’s top features
Multimedia posts—Share stories, links, images, and videos.
Voting—Gives you a quick picture of what’s resonating with the most engaging content rising to the top.
Forum-based communities—Members are highly engaged but also skew toward Millennials and Gen Z.
How much does Reddit cost?
Reddit is free. Paid advertising and partnerships are also available.
Born as a communications tool, Slack is widely known for its instant messaging. Many businesses, large and small, use Slack. However, brands, interest groups, and entrepreneurs have found ways to use workspaces as online communities.
Slack’s ideal use case
Slack shines as a tool for instant communications. The main activities used for online communities are discussions and information sharing. Slack communities also tend to be always-on communities where members check in daily. If you miss a few days, you may miss thousands of messages.
Slack’s top features
Instant messaging—Respond to a thread or send a private direct message to a particular user.
Channels—One of the most popular features, channels are public or private conversations for users.
Integrations—Because it’s used by so many businesses, Slack has thousands of integrations.
How much does Slack cost?
While there’s a free plan, it’s pretty limited and you can reach the 10,000 message limit pretty quickly. If you’re building a community, you’ll want to use a paid plan. It’s also important to call out that the pricing is per user, so your costs will increase as your community grows.