The 10 Best Alternatives to Circle (Circle.so)

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

Growth of internet communities
Online communities are growing. As a result, more and more businesses are leveraging the benefits of meaningful interactions with their customers.

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.

What’s Circle?

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.so app
Circle has excellent tools for created-led communities.

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.

Tribe: a customizable and extensible community platform

Tribe is a full-fledged community platform popular for its customizability using a block-based builder, 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, Tribe 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 Tribe to create brand communities. Top customers building community with Tribe include ConvertKit, UXPin, Shell, ASUS, IBM, Motorola, and more.

Tribe community with leaderboard
Tribe’s no-code approach makes customization a breeze. And the App Store makes it easy to add new functionalities.

Tribe’s ideal use case

Primarily a business and enterprise platform, Tribe is perfect for brand-led communities that want to engage customers, drive customer education, improve customer success, and build thought leadership.

Tribe’s top features and functionalities

Find out what makes Tribe stand out:

  • Customization: Tribe 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 Tribe 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 Tribe is focused on businesses, the integration roadmap features software such as Salaforce, HubSpot, Zendesk, ActiveCampaign, etc.
  • Developer Portal: Tribe offers a robust developer portal with API, Webhooks, and a template engine. This enables Tribe’s customers to extend the functionality of the community any way they like by building custom apps. Using Tribe SDK it is also possible to fully customize the user interface and build a community with Tribe 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.

Tribe’s pricing and plans

Tribe has the following subscription plans: Plus  $59 USD, Premium $299 USD, Advanced $599 USD, 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.

Check out the detailed comparison between Tribe and Circle here.

Where can I learn more about Tribe?

See Tribe’s website and online community.

Other alternatives to Circle.so

The following tools are full community management platforms used to create private and public communities based on different features and functionalities.

Mighty Networks

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 networks
Mighty Networks’ ability to create online courses and charge for content makes it a good alternative to Circle.

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

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.

Group App
If monetizing is a priority for your community, Group-App may be a good solution.

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.

Kajabi

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
Kajabi is designed to help individuals build paid membership communities around the courses, ideas, and services they provide.

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.

Hivebrite

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
NPOs and Educational Organizations are among the top users of Hivebrite.

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.

Discourse

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 community
Discourse is well suited for companies looking for open-source community software.

Discourse’s ideal use case

Discourse is a forum software primarily used by organizations. There are both cloud-hosted and self-hosted versions. Compare Tribe and Discourse here.

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.

Discord

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 community
Discord is a voice, video, and text communication service used by many communities.

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.

Facebook Groups

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.

facebook groups
Facebook remains a popular space for communities. However, the lack of robust customization and other community-specific platform features may limit interactions with members.

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

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
Reddit has 430 million monthly active users and over 100,000 active communities.

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.

Where can I learn more about Reddit?

See the Reddit company website and user agreement.

Slack

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
Slack has become a staple for organizations to stay communicated, especially during the COVID-19 work from home restrictions.

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.

Where can I learn more about Slack?

See the Slack website and find a local user group.

What to consider when choosing a community platform?

When choosing a platform, give thought to the exact reasons why you’re building your community and the experiences you want to provide to ensure a thriving community:

  • What kind of community do you want to build—a creator, brand, learning, support, membership community?
  • Will this community be public, private, or a combination of both?
  • What types of interactions and experiences do you want to promote—discussions, feedback, events, self-serve support, etc.?
  • Which features and functionality do you need now and in the future?
  • Do you want a platform that’s self-serve or more hands-on support and customization?

Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices, contact each platform to learn more. The simple act of talking to someone can tell you a lot about fit.

While we’ve worked diligently to ensure the accuracy of the information in this post, community platforms are constantly updating their features and pricing.

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Michelle Gold-Mire

Content creator, wordsmith, and introvert invested in the power of communities. Also a devoted patron of irony.

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