There are two important factors that have generally attracted the businesses and individuals to create Facebook groups -- the first one is the large pre-existing user base (close to 2.9 billion monthly active users) and the second one is the frictionless setup process. Apart from that, Facebook doesn't charge a dime to the community builders for using its platform.
However, there are a number of reasons why companies are looking for alternatives to Facebook Groups. For example, maybe the group members weren't as active or involved as one hoped on Facebook Groups because of inherent distractions within Facebook. The community cannot be fully customized according to brand guidelines and structured according to business needs. It cannot be integrated with the various tools used by a business.
Also, there is a growing concerns over Facebook's privacy issues and uncertain algorithm changes. Because of that people have started losing trust in the platform. After data scandals such as Cambridge Analytica community owners are now inclined to completely owning the data and privacy guidelines.
Here is the overview of the alternative platforms to Facebook we are going to discuss:
Customizable templates, branding, design tools, widgets, integrations, support for 20+ languages, gamification, messaging, secure data ownership
Starts at $599 per month
Real-time text-based conversations, combines external applications, channels for projects, video and screen sharing, app integrations
Free plan, Pro plan: $5.75/month, Business plan: $9.75/month, Enterprise Grid: Custom priced
Integrates with services like Zapier, rich member profiles, discussions, group chat, direct messaging, events, live streaming, paywall for memberships
Connect users with communities over voice, video, text chat, designed for gaming, task management, workflow automation, search, scheduling
Discord Nitro Classic: $4.99/month, Discord Nitro: $9.99/month, Freemium version available
Read on to explore in greater details.
Why are companies looking for alternatives to Facebook groups?
Although at first, it might seem that building a community on Facebook might be a good starting point as your audiences are already available there, you need to consider that Facebook can be very distracting. While your community members are having discussions and building connections with your brand, Facebook would be consistently sending notifications from friends, showing ads, and delivering suggestions for similar Groups.
When you take away the distractions from the community, you would be at ground zero to initiate true engagement. Community managers are well aware that the success of the community is completely dependent on the content, members' engagement, and retention.
Here is an overview of Pros and Cons of using Facebook Groups:
Large user base: almost 2.9 billion people are on Facebook.
Limited customization: Facebook offers little ability to customize the look, feel, features, and functionality of Groups.
Easy setup: It is quite simple and straightforward to start a Facebook Group.
Privacy concerns: User data is captured by Facebook and subject to its policies. Organizations have limited control or ownership over sensitive information shared in Groups.
Public/Private: Options to create public or private groups based on the need.
Challenges in reach: Facebook's algorithm controls visibility of Group content. Posts deemed less engaging by the algorithm can struggle to reach members organically.
Advertising: Facebook inserts third-party ads into the Group interface which can disrupt user experience. There is no ad-free option.
Support Limitations: Admins have access to standard Facebook support, but more complex issues or customizations require professional support.
No sub-group: It's not possible to create sub-communities or sub-groups with Facebook Groups.
Content shared in Facebook Groups cannot be indexed by search engines.
Let's now dive deep into the reasons why companies are looking for Facebook Groups alternatives:
Reason 1: Decreasing reach
It is continuously becoming difficult to reach the target audience via Facebook. The flagship newsfeed of Facebook has become more and more cluttered with distractions, fake news, and clickbaity articles.
Also, the algorithm behind this newsfeed changes quite frequently, thereby affecting the visibility of the content pushed by different brands. This essentially means that the messages sent to the Group might not come across to the right audience at the right time.
A dedicated community platform delivers several ways to reach members -- right from activity-specific contextual notifications and manual messaging to emails and powerful integration with third-party communication tools.
Reason 2: Lack of organic growth via the web
If one of the goals of your community is to raise awareness of your business, build brand leadership, acquire new users by getting in front of as many people as possible, Facebook Groups will not be useful. Although you can use their advertising solution to increasing the visibility of your company, the very nature of the "closed space" for Facebook Groups restricts the community from organic growth.
Since Facebook Groups are completely confined to the platform and search engines are not allowed to crawl the content posted in your community, there is no way for the search engine bots to discover content, index them, and send traffic organically. Also, note that none of the third-party sites (e.g., a blog or news portal) will be able to link to any valuable content posted in the Group.
For this type of use case, Facebook Groups disregard the very essence of the web and knowledge discovery.
Reason 3: No customization
Facebook Groups can be set up swiftly, but they are equally rigid when it comes to customizing it based on your business or brand. For example, you cannot keep the group under your custom domain (e.g., community.domain.com). Also, you are not allowed to change the look and feel, color combinations to better reflect your brand guidelines. Apart from this, it is not possible to merge the group in your site's header and footer for seamless navigation.
Above all, you as a community owner should be able to organize and showcase the specific elements of the community exactly based on your requirements and user needs. It is not possible to keep one generic group template and use the same to represent millions of communities.
Reason 4: No subcommunities or subgroups
It is imperative for any community manager to build small subcommunities inside the community to bring people with a shared passion closer and build another channel for member and knowledge discovery. For example, you might want to bring the super users of your product or service together for ideation on a certain topic. This is absolutely not possible with Facebook Groups.
Reason 5: Lack of control
On Facebook, all of the control lies with Facebook alone -- both the community owner and the members are subject go in the direction that Facebook deems appropriate.
When you don't get the ownership of the platform, you will always remain dependent on the platform owner.
Facebook doesn't give you ownership of the members' data. All you receive after getting more than 250 members is an aggregated report which showcases new members, top content, etc. in a pre-defined format. So, you cannot run your own analytics on member behavior, user-generated content.
The data lives in a silo -- for instance, you can neither use Google Analytics to understand how community visitors are interacting with the community nor use advanced analytics solutions such as Amplitude to measure key metrics (e.g., retention, lifecycle, etc.) at a granular level.
This also means that you cannot take the audience data and push them to your newsletter list or communication solutions such as MailChimp, HubSpot, and Intercom.
What are the top alternatives to Facebook groups?
Disclaimer: This post contains information that was publicly available as of August 2023. We encourage readers to also conduct their own research to determine which platform best fits their needs.
The landscape of online community platforms is changing fast, offering a variety of alternatives to Facebook Groups. Here we explore the key platforms that can serve as effective substitutes for your group chats and community spaces.
Bettermode brings a range of robust features tailored to meet unique business needs. It offers customizable templates that make it easy to create communities. With capabilities that span custom branding, built-in analytics, scalable plans, multilingual support, and seamless integrations, Bettermode rises above generic community platforms.
Summary of key features:
Forget the days of cobbling together disjointed tools – Bettermode is the customizable digital hub for your thriving online community. Right out of the gate, Bettermode empowers members to actively engage through discussions, polls, Q&As, and content sharing. And gives your community managers robust moderation capabilities, branding tools, customization options, and effortless integrations.
And if you’re looking to expand capabilities Bettermode plays nice with your other tools like Google Analytics, Salesforce, and HubSpot. Bettermode also helps you engage international and multilingual audiences with support for 20+ languages.
Essentially, Bettermode brings all the essential features into one intuitive, integrated powerhouse.
Robust customization - Build a completely tailored community with customizable templates, branding, design tools, widgets, and more.
Unique design - Tailor the visual experience through the Design Studio and theming options.
Professional templates - Hit the ground running with premade community templates.
Seamless integrations - Embed options and a comprehensive API enables frictionless connections with your existing tech stack.
Embeddable - Integrate the community into your existing mobile app, web app, and website to improve engagement.
Highly intuitive interface - The modern, user-friendly design drives adoption and seamlessly engages members.
Powerful moderation - Proactively manage your community with advanced moderation tools and filters.
Actionable analytics - Gain data-driven insights into member behavior and community growth to optimize efforts.
Gamification - Drive participation and loyalty with points, badges, rewards, leaderboards, and other fun gamification elements.
Integrated messaging - Enable private messaging between members to facilitate personal connections.
Scalable capacity - Support large and rapidly growing communities with flexible plans and enterprise-grade infrastructure.
Open ecosystem - Expand capabilities via integrations from the Bettermode App Marketplace ecosystem.
Secure data ownership - Maintain full control and ownership over your community data.
Admin controls - Comprehensive controls and management capabilities for complete community oversight.
No free version - Bettermode does not offer a free version of its platform. However, it does provide an affordable starter plan and a free trial is available.
Pricing: A free trial is available and then its pricing starts at $599 per month
Famed more for team collaboration initially, Slack has evolved over time hosting numerous small groups connected by shared interests or professional fields, and it’s more commonly used within B2B environments.
Summary of key features:
Slack is an instant-messaging platform that supports real-time text-based conversations within private groups, public channels, and direct messages. Slack's key feature is its capacity to combine a range of external applications, which allows code creation, project management, chat functions, data protection, and a collaborative work platform across devices and regions.
However, without proper organization, channels may become cluttered, leading to information overload.
A flexible way to work with people and partners in one space
Dedicated spaces built around specific projects
Huddles let teams chat over audio instantly
Video and screen sharing
Clips allow audio and video recording
Users can work alongside external partners in Slack channels
Integrates with apps
Turns tasks into automated workflows
Image and audio files
Audio conferencing and video conferencing
Lack of scalability
Free plan has only 10000 searchable messages, 10 app integrations and 1 to 1 video calls
Conversations get deleted after 90 days
Minimum file storage
Pricing: Slack has a free plan, a Pro plan which is $5.75 a month, a Business plan which is $9.75 a month, and an Enterprise Grid which is custom priced.
Circle is another promising platform specifically designed for creators looking to build thriving communities. And it allows community builders to create spaces, engage with customers, monetize through memberships, and manage integrations.
Summary of key features:
It integrates seamlessly with popular services like Zapier, giving users the flexibility to extend functionalities according to their needs.
Rich member profiles
Discussions and group chat
Events, live streaming, and live rooms
Courses and course builder
Paywall for memberships
Communities can be public or private
White label option available
An iOS app
Lack of powerful customization and design tools
Usage caps on all pricing plans
Transaction fees on all paid plans
No live chat support
Pricing: 14-day free trial. The basic package is $49 a month, the professional package is $99 a month, the business package is $199 a month, and the enterprise package is $399 a month.
4. Forj.ai (Formerly Mobilize)
Forj offers a comprehensive set of tools to manage and grow an engaged member base while providing valuable insights and performance metrics to help optimize efforts. It is geared towards larger organizations and may prove costly for small businesses.
Overview of key features:
Forj’s vision is to engage members to learn in modern communities of practice by combining members’ expertise to facilitate networking, generate conversations and generate learning content.
Technology to enable members to learn from each other
Insights and automation to drive personalized learning paths
Mobile app and desktop options
Flexible and scalable learning management system
Multi-media rich content
Automated learner enrollment and progress tracking
Personalized learner profiles
Branding and design with customization
Seamless community management
There is no pricing information, but reviews suggest pricing is expensive.
Pricing: There is a demo request available, but no prices are given on its website.
Reddit is a social news aggregation site with over 430 million monthly active users. The vast majority of people use it for chatting, news, or entertainment purposes, and business professionals use it as an advertising platform.
Summary of key features:
Reddit is simple to use, especially for beginners
A business friendly platform
You can build traffic easily
Reddit is secure
It promotes open discussion
Helps you stay up to date with what’s going on in your industry
Subreddits allow you to subscribe to your interests or find new ones
Users can vote content up or down and higher voted content ranks higher
Can be used to promote products and services through sponsored ads
Can engage in conversations with users about products and services
Reddit provides free traffic for your website
If your content goes viral, people worldwide with tune into your website
Can share your content with Reddit members only free from censorship
Reddit is often touted as a time sink
It lacks reliable sources
Some subreddits are not moderated at all
Items are poorly organized
Can be confrontational
Businesses need to be creative, original, and unique with high-quality content
Hard to navigate
Pricing: Free for users and free for businesses to create a subreddit. Ads are paid for and you have to contact sales for prices.
Discourse is an online forum discussion platform. It’s 100% open source and can be used as a mailing list, discussion forum, chat room and more.
Summary of key features:
Discourse is an open-source community management and moderation product. Businesses have the ability to define groups and have private categories so that members can have discussions around topics.
Ability to define groups and have private categories
Ability to import/export data via API
You can see detailed metrics on user activity
Easy for members to have discussions
Easy to administer and moderate discussions
Good product support services
Chat in real time
No live chat
Requires engineering help for customizaation
Pricing: Discourse software is open source and free. The cloud-hosted plan starts from $50 a month, the standard plan is $100 a month, the business plan is $300 a month and the enterprise plan is custom pricing.
Flarum is a simple discussion platform that is free and easy to use, with all the features required to run a community. It is also customisable.
Summary of key features:
Flarum is a simple discussion platform with a responsive design. It’s a straightforward simple forum organizational structure and supports multiple languages.
Open source and free to download and run on your preferred VPS hosting provider
Fast and user friendly
Limited core feature set
Lack of support options
Better suited to community builders with development knowledge
Hard to install
Pricing: Open source and free to access
8. Vanilla Forums
Vanilla Forums is a cloud-based open-source community forum platform that gives you the ability to create interactive online forums.
Summary of key features:
It includes good engagement management, user-generated content, and help desk management with social media
Robust moderation tools
Built-in gamification engine
Doesn’t require in-depth technical knowledge to set up
Some analytics and reporting insight
Enterprise cloud pricing is costly
Customer support doesn’t include live chat
Currently no native mobile app
No searchable member directory
Limited embedding options
Limited customization options
Pricing: Open source and free. The pricing for the cloud-hosted plan is not available on the website.
9. Gainsight Digital Hub (formerly inSided)
InSided - now known as Gainsight Digital Hub - is a purpose-built all in one, self-service destination to engage and retain customers.
Summary of key features:
Gainsight Digital Hub offers no-code widget builders, and an intuitive UI and powerful integrations.
API, plus access controls/permissions
Activity dashboard and activity tracking
Call center management
A one size fits all solution
Difficult to customize
Some batch processing features lacking for large communities
Limitations on email campaigns
Pricing: Some features have a free plan, but prices range for individual features from $20-75 a month
Khoros communities is a brand community platform that allows businesses to host and manage peer-to-peer spaces for customers to find answers, and share experiences. Organizations can host and manage forums, blogs, contests and quizzes.
Summary of key features:
Features include content moderation, customizable branding, reports, analytics, gamification, and content syndication.
Communication management and community management
Content creation and content management
Customer experience management
Engagement tracking and feedback management
Knowledge base management
Reporting and statistics
Analytics can be skewed
Customization is not very flexible
Difficult to navigate
Pricing: A demo can be booked, but no pricing available
Heartbeat is a home for online communities. It allows users to create a space for communities to chat, create threads, and use voice and video. It works for online schools, paid communities, innovation hubs, support groups etc.
Summary of key features:
Heartbeat allows you to host chats, threads, documents, and live events. You can also direct message community members if personal one-to-one support or communication is needed. You can link up a Zoom account and provide a Zoom link to host an event and connect to an external calendar like Google or Outlook.
Neat and intuitive user interface
Single tool to host threads, events and documents
Mobile apps for both IOS and Android
Good level of customisation
Limited if you want to build a membership program or course
Stripe is the only payment gateway integration available
The starter plan is limited to 1000 members
Live chat support is available on the main website but not inside the app
Pricing: There are 3 plans - Starter, Growth and Business. Starter is $29 a month, Growth is $99 a month and the business plan is custom based.
Discord is designed to connect users with communities over voice, video and text chat via Discord servers. It is a gaming and game industry oriented app for growing communities around video games. However, the app may be used for business communications of other kinds.
Summary of key features:
Discord’s key features are project management, communication, file sharing and management.
Search and scheduling
Visual planning tools
Chat and discussions
Internal knowledge base
Audio and video files
Advanced security features
HD video streaming
No setup fee
No notification customization
No free trial
No premium consulting/integration services
Server limit on the free version
Limited free themes
Very low file transfer limits
Shareable file size limit
Speech detection is delayed
Limited search function
Pricing: Discord Nitro Classic is $4.99 per month and Discord Nitro is $9.99 per month. There is a freemium version.
Why choose an all-in-one customer community platform over Facebook Groups?
With privacy and control concerns mounting against Facebook groups, companies are seeking more customizable and secure community platforms. While options like Slack, Reddit, and Discord offer certain benefits, they lack critical features for building a thriving member community.
Bettermode stands out as the most comprehensive and flexible alternative, providing complete customization, embedded widgets, modern design, robust moderation tools, integrated apps, native mobile apps, and full data ownership. For any organization looking to increase engagement and harness the power of online communities, Bettermode is the leading all-in-one solution.
The shift towards all-in-one customer community platforms like Bettermode from traditional social media spaces such as Facebook groups is not without reason. These comprehensive solutions offer a centralized approach to managing and nurturing customer relationships, providing features that include customizable templates for creating communities, moderation tools for managing conversations, analytics for tracking user engagement, and integration with other platforms.
All-in-one community platforms, like Bettermode provide the flexibility of customizable templates, enabling businesses to design their online communities in alignment with their brand's identity and values. This level of customization creates unique digital spaces that echo your brand image while creating a sense of belonging among members - something often lacking in standard Facebook group setups.
This feature enhances member experience significantly by creating engaging environments, which subsequently leads to increased loyalty among customers - making them more likely than ever before to become advocates for the business.
2. Moderation tools: for meaningful conversations
Maintaining order within any discussion forum can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to large-scale networks like those found on social networking sites; however, the task becomes considerably easier thanks to the advanced moderation capabilities offered by these complete solutions.
Platforms such as Bettermode come equipped with a robust set of controls administrators use to manage content posted across various channels, including setting rules, flagging inappropriate material, and banning users when necessary.
These functionalities ensure discussions remain relevant and respectful at all times, promoting a healthy exchange of ideas between participants and enhancing the overall quality of interaction taking place within the network.
3. Analytics: gaining insights into community performance
Full-service community platforms like Bettermode offer powerful analytical tools, allowing businesses deep insight into how well their communities are performing. Plus, Bettermode provides comprehensive analytics on member activity across discussions, content, events, and more.
Businesses gain visibility into key metrics like member enrollment, engagement rates, content popularity, real-time traffic, churn risk, and ROI. Advanced segmentation reveals trends among member cohorts. With this granular data, organizations can gain a precise understanding of what drives participation and loyalty. These insights empower data-driven strategies to optimize community growth and engagement.
4. Integration with business tools
The seamless integration provided by these full-service offerings allows organizations to connect multiple touch points across different communication. For example, Bettermode has seamless integration capabilities, allowing organizations to connect multiple touchpoints across different communication channels.
The platform offers robust API integration, empowering simple connections with existing tools like Slack, HubSpot, and Salesforce. This enables a unified experience, with community engagement woven into an organization's broader technology ecosystem.
💡Key Takeaway: Switching from Facebook groups to all-in-one customer community platforms like Bettermode is a smart move. The platform offers customizable templates for brand-aligned communities, advanced moderation tools for healthy discussions, powerful analytics for performance insights, and seamless integration with various tools.
If you're ready to step into the next generation of online community platforms, it's time to give Bettermode a look. Or if you still have unanswered questions, take a look at the most frequently asked questions below.👇
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best alternative to Facebook groups?
The best alternative largely depends on your needs. However, for organizations that want an all-in-one community platform with enterprise-grade capabilities, security, and flexibility, Bettermode is likely the most robust and user-friendly alternative to Facebook groups available today.
Are Facebook groups still relevant?
Facebook Groups remain highly relevant and impactful today due to Facebook's massive global user base. With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook provides unmatched access to potential community members. For organizations that already have an engaged Facebook following, leveraging Groups can be a logical next step to foster deeper connections.
However, Facebook Groups do come with downsides like lack of customization, third-party advertising, and data privacy concerns that are prompting many organizations to seek alternatives.
What is changing with Facebook groups?
In light of increasing scrutiny around misinformation, privacy, and harmful content, Facebook has instituted several changes to Groups in recent years:
Stricter content moderation - Facebook has updated content policies for Groups and is utilizing more AI and human reviewers to quickly identify and remove policy-violating posts.
Restricted group types - Controversial group types related to health, politics, and other sensitive topics now require approval and have additional monitoring.
New admin tools - Additional tools help group admins identify and block troublesome members as well as filter profanity and offensive terms.
Fact-checking - Posts with misinformation are now labeled as such through Facebook's fact-checking partnerships.
Group recommendations - Facebook's algorithm has been updated to reduce suggestions of low-quality, misleading, or duplicate Groups.
While Facebook is evolving, organizations still need more control and flexibility. Community software like Bettermode that provide all-in-one platform with robust customization tools, are helping businesses build online communities for customer engagement and retention.
The search for the ultimate Facebook Groups alternative
Throughout this guide, we uncovered some promising options to replace Facebook Groups. Platforms like Slack, Reddit, and Vanilla Forums each have their niche strengths. But often they miss the mark on essentials like customization, scalability, analytics, and security.
Frankly, many alternatives seem to come up short in providing a true 360-degree community experience. One that empowers brands to build thriving member bases, drive meaningful engagement, and gain data-driven insights.
But there is a bright spot amidst the trade-offs. A platform purpose-built to help organizations unlock the full potential of online communities. Introducing Bettermode - the all-in-one customer community platform.
Bettermode checks all the boxes:
☑️ Need to customize your community's look and feel? No problem - Bettermode offers complete branding and design flexibility.
☑️ Want seamless integrations with existing tools? Bettermode's App Store, APIs, and embed options have you covered.
☑️ Require robust analytics to optimize your community? Bettermode delivers the insights you need.
By bringing together a comprehensive feature set, elegant and intuitive interface, and dedication to customer success - Bettermode stands apart.
Director of Marketing, Bettermode
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