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Community Platforms: The Best Online Options for You

Creating and nurturing online communities has become a crucial strategy for businesses to connect with their audience and foster lasting relationships. As physical events become less feasible, these online community platforms offer a way to bring together customers and clients from diverse locations. In this blog, we'll explore the best online community platforms that can help you build authority, trust, and even monetize your following.

Community Platforms: The Best Online Options for You

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Eric Lofholm
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Understanding Online Community Platforms

Online community platforms are specialised software that provides virtual spaces for individuals with shared interests to connect and interact. These community software platforms can encompass social media groups, membership sites, forums, online chat rooms, and creator platforms. For businesses, these community online platforms offer a unique opportunity to connect with their target audience, creating an exclusive online space for sharing products, offers, and fostering genuine connections.

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Public vs Private Platforms

Public social networks (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and private online community platforms (e.g., Uplyrn, Slack, Discord) serve distinct purposes.

Public social networks can help you to reach a broader audience due to a large user base, reduce digital friction as users are already familiar with the community online platforms, and provide opportunities for lead generation but you typically have less control over your groups and can be vulnerable to platform decisions (e.g. group shutdown).

On the other hand, private or controlled online community platforms provide control, dedicated management tools, revenue opportunities, enhanced security, and better data tracking. Let us elaborate:

Increased Control

  • Avoiding External Ads: Private community spaces allow businesses to maintain a controlled environment without the intrusion of external advertisements. This helps in providing a distraction-free and focused experience for community members.
  • Avoiding Algorithm Changes: By having full control, businesses can dictate the rules and features of the platform, avoiding sudden algorithm changes that might affect user engagement or content visibility.

Dedicated Management Tools

  • Community Management: Private platforms often come with specialised tools for managing communities effectively. These tools may include features for moderating discussions, tracking engagement, and ensuring a positive user experience.
  • Marketing Features: Dedicated marketing tools can assist businesses in promoting their products or services within the community. This could involve targeted messaging, promotional campaigns, or other marketing strategies tailored to the community's interests.
  • Lead Funnels: Private platforms might offer integrated lead funnels, enabling businesses to convert community engagement into potential leads and eventually customers.

Revenue Opportunities

  • Monetization Options: Private communities provide businesses with various monetization avenues. This can include subscription models where users pay for access to premium content or features, exclusive content available only to paying members, and the sale of digital products within the community.
  • Membership Tiers: Some platforms allow businesses to create different membership tiers, each offering unique benefits. This tiered approach can cater to a diverse audience, providing options for both free and premium users.
  • Direct Interaction: Businesses can directly engage with their audience in private spaces, fostering a stronger connection. This direct interaction can lead to increased opportunities for sales and conversions.

Selecting the Optimal Online Community Platform for Your Needs

Selecting the right online community platform for your business involves several key considerations:

  • Define the type of community: Clearly outline the structure and approach of your online community.
  • Determine goals: Identify your community-building goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and what you want to achieve.
  • Evaluate key features: Create a list of essential features, such as live streaming, 1:1 chat functions, and more.
  • Consider community size: Estimate the size of your community to choose a platform that can accommodate your needs.
  • Prioritise scalability: Select a platform that can scale with your business as it grows.
  • Check your budget: Examine the pricing structure, including costs for additional admins, community members, and potential hidden fees.

Popular Online Community Platforms

Uplyrn

Uplyrn is an all-in-one community platform focused on action-based learning, believing in active engagement and skill application. The community encourages interaction between learners, mentors, coaches, and experts, aiming for impactful learning experiences.

Uplyrn invites individuals to join its community, emphasising the shared journey of exploration and growth. The platform offers an affiliate program, allowing members to become brand ambassadors, contributing to the learning journey and earning passive income.

The platform also has an expert referral program, providing opportunities for experts to earn recurring commissions and revenue shares.

In essence, Uplyrn is a collaborative learning community that seeks to make learning and growing together a rewarding experience.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups is a straightforward choice for an online community platform as most users likely already have a profile. It's free and easy to start, with simple moderation and private messaging features. However, member engagement may be low, requiring users to visit the group directly. While useful for starting a community online, it's advisable to use it alongside another platform for more control and security, given Facebook's challenges with usability, data privacy, and ownership.

Facebook is free to use for everyone.

Slack

Slack goes beyond work chat, serving as an easy online community platform to organise groups. The free plan accommodates unlimited members but limits visible messages to 10,000. Paid plans offer more storage, app integrations, and group calls. With direct messages and organised slack channels, Slack facilitates ongoing conversations. Recent additions include audio and video call features, though customization options for branding are limited.

Slack provides a limited free plan for its online community platform, with paid options starting at $6.67 per user per month.

Discord

Discord, a well-known platform in gaming communities, offers free use with the option to upgrade for extra features. It supports voice calls, video calls, and live chats, making it ideal for instant and spontaneous communication. Users can be part of multiple online communities, simplifying the creation of new ones. Key features include a straightforward interface, chat focus, the ability to set up separate channels, and availability of messages and voice calls.

Discourse

Discourse leads in open-source online community platforms, offering the flexibility to customise code for desired features. It's powerful out of the box, allowing easy organisation with categories, threads, and multiple moderators. Users can post, message, and share content within the community platform. Notably, Discourse includes automatic filtering for spammers and trolls, ensuring hassle-free community moderation. Key features include open-source code, social media login, direct messaging tools, and robust automatic moderation tools.

Host your online community on Discourse for free, or opt for their managed hosting with a 14-day free trial. Managed hosting plans for this community platform range from $50 to $300 per month.

Disciple

Disciple is a versatile platform for individual creators and businesses, offering easy content and community management from mobile or desktop. Utilise the open API to sync with tools like Google Suite, Mailchimp, and YouTube without coding. Drive conversations with groups, polls, and comments in your online community, while connecting in real time through live streams and direct messaging. Key features of this community platform include centralised content storage, various community layouts, unlimited subgroups and feeds, and detailed insights with analytics.

Select from annual or 6-month plans, ranging from $46 to $999 per month.

HumHub

HumHub is a free and open-source community platform designed for easy online communication and collaboration. It offers full customization, allowing users to create tailored online communities, intranets, or large enterprise applications. Key features include third-party tool integration, full data control, and the ability to establish private or enterprise social networks.

HumHub is free to use for your online community, while the professional edition offers various monthly price points based on the number of users.

MemberDev

MemberDev specialises in building custom online community platforms, eliminating the stress of creating one yourself. They tailor community spaces to your business and audience, providing a customised user experience. Key features of this community building platform include flexible subscriptions, community forums, members-only live events, and personalised dashboards. Notably, MemberDev offers extensive customization, along with simple sales funnels and email marketing integrations to enhance online community promotion.

MemberDev's pricing is customised for each case.

Podia

Podia is an all-in-one community platform that facilitates free and paid communities. With a no-code builder, it simplifies the process of creating and managing online communities. Key features include the option to create websites, webinars, coaching packages, and add-ons for email marketing. Podia also supports multimedia conversations and sales funnels for digital products.

Podia provides a free plan, with monthly subscription options ranging from $39 to $199.

Uscreen

Uscreen specialises in video content, offering a Netflix-style interface to build a vibrant online community. Features of this community platform include exclusive content drops, live streaming, and a private membership space. Personalise your Uscreen website and app, creating a central hub for your community. Users can stay informed with custom calendar reminders for upcoming content.

Monthly plans for Uscreen range from $99 to $199.

Conclusion

Building and growing an online community requires careful consideration of the best community platform that aligns with your business goals and audience. By leveraging the features and capabilities of these top online community platforms, you can create a vibrant and engaging space that fosters meaningful connections with your audience. Whether you prioritise customization, monetization, or specific functionalities, there's a platform tailored to meet your unique needs. Start your community-building journey today and reap the long-term benefits of a connected and loyal customer base.

Eric Lofholm
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Eric Lofholm
Master Sales Trainer, Keynote Speaker, EntrepreneurNOW Network
Subjects of Expertise: Sales Skills, Motivation, Mindset & Strategies
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Eric Lofholm
Master Sales Trainer
Keynote Speaker
EntrepreneurNOW Network

Subjects of Expertise

Sales Skills
Motivation
Mindset & Strategies

Leave your thoughts here...

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Neha Singh
  • 2024-02-20 20:23:20
This blog is about online communit...
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S Bhavadharani
  • 2024-01-26 23:09:30
Uplyrn Team's guide on the bes...
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Priyanshu Ranjan
  • 2024-01-23 00:38:04
Informative breakdown of online co...

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