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8 Best Online Community Platforms being used by Popular Brands

Are you looking for some of the best online community platforms available?

There are so many platforms and options that it’s overwhelming. It can be pretty stressful trying to figure out which one is best for you and your community. It’s almost too stressful to even try to decide.

It shouldn’t have to be that way.

It should be a simple task with some basic research. That’s why I created this article. I want to show you 8 different platforms that many brands use.

Check out some of the best online community platforms down below and then make an easier choice afterward.

The Best Online Community Platforms to Consider Using Today

These are some of the best online community platforms based on the brands and companies that are using them. I suggest you check out some demos, read some further reviews, and understand what features you’ll need to help you make a thorough decision.

  1. Bettermode
  2. Mighty Networks
  3. Slack
  4. Facebook Groups
  5. Discourse
  6. Vanilla
  7. XenForo
  8. Circle


1 – Bettermode

Bettermode is now what used to be called Tribe.

It’s a popular online community platform. It’s the community platform being used by ConvertKit, which is one of the most popular and growing email marketing platforms available on the web. Many other popular brands and companies also use Bettermode.

It includes many essential features that you would need to start a community, including:

  • Community functions
  • Templates
  • Moderation
  • Single Sign-on
  • Analytics
  • Search
  • Activity feed
  • Gamification
  • Integrations
  • Sell access

The price for Bettermode starts out at $599 a month.

This price is very high, but if you want to create a paid online community, you can strategically budget for a community like this by adjusting your annual membership rate. I’ve seen many successful paid online communities charge upwards of $500 to $1,000 annually for membership.


2 – Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks is one of the most well-known and best online community platforms available on the web. It’s used by TED, the creator of TED Talk, one of the world’s largest information and business networks. Mighty Networks is popular with other major brands and companies online.

There are many online community features to expect with this platform, including:

  • Chat Community
  • Events
  • Courses
  • Pages
  • Great mobile features
  • Themes
  • Analytics
  • Integrations
  • Sell access

The price for Mighty Networks starts out at $33 a month.

This is a more economical price markup than the platform above. It offers you the ability to require payment for access from your members. This would be a good strategy to ensure that you can profit from your community by setting your price margin over what you’re spending to maintain your community.

Best Online Community Platforms

3 – Slack

Slack has become more famous after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a well-known online chat-based community used by many business settings. Many ambassador programs for brands use Slack as their online community platform. Some brands and companies using Slack include Airbnb, NASA, Uber, Target, The New York Times, Grammarly, and Etsy.

Slack has many features to ensure the platform can be used as a community, including:

  • Channels (chat)
  • Messaging
  • Audio/Video calls
  • Search
  • Mobile
  • File Sharing
  • Automation
  • Integration
  • Access Control

Slack has a free version of its platform for basic features, but premium plans start at under $4 a month.

If you’re looking for a more modern community platform that many people are used to, Slack may be what you need. Slack will be a great choice if you want to offer free or low-cost membership. Chat and messaging are still very popular in the online community world.


4 – Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups is a great option for people who want to create a free community and do very little to maintain and market the community. Popular businesses and brands have created many large groups on Facebook for their online community, including HubSpot and Canva. Other brands and companies with a large social media following tend to use Facebook Groups for their communities and ambassador programs.

There are quite a few features on Facebook Groups aside from the large audience that is already built-in, including:

  • Community features
  • Video
  • Photos
  • Search
  • Moderation
  • Access Control

Facebook Groups are free to create and maintain. Advertising does cost if you wish to use it. It is nearly impossible to require money for Facebook Group access unless you add it as a feature for paid membership from Page features.

Facebook Groups is a good online platform for communities that intend to be free. If most of your followers or customers are on Facebook, this might be your best community platform. However, it is important to note that Facebook Group is rented space, and if you lose the group for various reasons, it’s gone forever for the most part.

Build a Community

5 – Discourse

Discourse is one of the best online community platforms available because it’s popular and it’s been around for a while. It’s open-source and used by some very popular brands and people, including Seth Godin, one of the internet’s most famous marketers and the best-selling author of several books. Discourse is used by many other brands and businesses on the web and has been used by them for years.

Discourse has quite a few features to enjoy, including:

  • Discussions
  • Chat in real-time
  • Notifications
  • Simplistic Design
  • Mobile first
  • Single sign-on
  • Moderation
  • Social login
  • Spam blocking
  • Gamification
  • Reply by email
  • Plugins
  • Open Source

Discourse is free to host on your own servers. The premium plan starts at $25 monthly for Discourse to host your community on their servers.

Discourse is a great community platform to use because of how long it’s been around. Most people who go to communities are likely used to using Discourse and will know their way around the community. However, it may not always be the best choice for a paid community.


6 – Vanilla

Vanilla is another older platform that took a modern approach to become a community platform. Back when discussion forums were popular, Vanilla was one of the forum platforms. Vanilla became more of a modern community platform when forums began to decline. Some known companies, including Acer and Nokia, use Vanilla.

Vanilla comes with some modern community features, including:

  • Community essentials
  • Themes
  • Analytics
  • Knowledge base
  • Integrations

The cost of Vanilla is unknown because you have to request a demo to get the pricing information. One website suggests there is a free version, while another says it costs money.

Vanilla would be a good platform to create if you want basic community features that people are familiar with. But the cost being unknown does make the software a little questionable.

Try to Help Others

7 – XenForo

XenForo is an online community software written in PHP and MySQL. Many individual and business-based online community owners use it. It is a forum software platform more than the other options listed above. One of the largest communities that use it is Digital Point Forum which has been around for many years as one of the largest web development communities online. Many other communities, some very large, use XenForo.

XenForo comes with many community features, including:

  • Discussion boards
  • Search
  • Moderation
  • Spam controls
  • SEO
  • Themes
  • Mobile Responsive
  • Monetization
  • Plugins
  • Access Control

XenForo costs $160 for the first year if you host the software on your own servers. To use their hosting servers, prices start at $60 a month.

If you’re used to traditional forum software, XenForo is a great option. Using XenForo as a paid community with out-of-the-box features is also possible. This platform may appeal to some users, but others who are not used to traditional forums may not utilize it as they would with more modern-based online platforms.

On a side note, I use and love XenForo. I have an online community for discussing creating and managing your own online community, which is free to join. If you want to join, check it out at Discuss Communities.


8 – Circle

Circle is a popular online community platform with many different features. Many popular brands and businesses use Adobe, Ship 30 for 30, and the Copyblogger Academy as a community solution. Many other brands are using Circle.

Circle comes with many community features, including:

  • Community essentials
  • Courses
  • Content pages
  • Live streams
  • Chat rooms
  • Events
  • Themes
  • Analytics
  • Integrations
  • Ability to sell access

Pricing for Circle starts at $39 a month.

Circle is one of the best online community platforms available. Many organizations and brands use it. You can use it as a paid community option, free, or a mixture of both free and paid membership levels. In my professional opinion, the Circle mobile app does need work, but its responsive website is a little more featured than the mobile app.


And that completes my list of the 8 best online community platforms to use for your community. Maybe one of the 8 above platforms is the best for your community. If you enjoyed this article and you want to support me in creating it, please consider sharing it with other people who might be interested. Follow me on Twitter for more online community tips and resources.

Shawn Gossman

About the Author

Shawn Gossman has created content, blogged, ran online communities, and shared a passion for digital marketing for over twenty years. Shawn believes the best way to help content creators, businesses, brands, and marketers is to give away more than you sell. The same advice is recommended for the readers who follow this blog. Shawn also offers various services for extra help in content creation and blogging.

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