7 Best Online Community Platforms for 2024 (Free/Paid)

In this blog post, discover the best online community platforms for 2024 handpicked and reviewed for community builders to find their perfect match!
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The future of learning is undeniably tied to online communities, acting as catalysts for transformative learning experiences.

These communities, designed to inspire, teach, and foster connections, instill hope in members and purpose in founders. In this blog post, discover the best online community platforms for 2024 handpicked and reviewed for community builders to find their perfect match!

What we'll learn together:

  • Why online communities are the future of learning, and what are the five crucial features to look for in a modern online community software to scale and manage your digital communities
  • Introducing the 7 best community platforms we've identified that are worth considering if you're a founder, operator, or creator looking to host your online community

Online Communities are the Future of Learning

Research, even from childhood, emphasizes the effectiveness of collaborative learning, indicating that shared learning experiences yield superior results at a faster pace. Recognizing this communal approach to learning, the next era of education involves equipping founders and operators of learning communities with optimal community management software. This facilitates hosting diverse online learning experiences, courses, event series, and other vital functions, thereby enhancing the overall impact and experience for community members.

Furthermore, the best online community platforms empower founders and operators to concentrate on guiding members in personal and professional development. By creating transformative experiences and nurturing customer loyalty, these platforms go beyond mere facilitation.

5 Crucial Features To Look For In Online Community Platforms

Selecting the right online community platform is paramount for community managers and operators, as it functions as a crucial ally in managing, operating, and expanding your online community. Opting for the 'wrong fit' can lead to substantial resource losses, including time, money, and effort.

Recognizing this significance, Team Disco is committed to helping you navigate this decision. We've compiled a list and reviewed the best online community platforms available on the internet. Each software comes with its unique set of community features, charm, and limitations, emphasizing the importance of aligning with your specific challenges and goals.

In our assessment, we contend that a modern operating system for learning communities should possess at least three of these five crucial features: customization, automation, integration, scalability, and affordability. Exploring why these features matter can shed light on how they have the potential to transform your online community into a high-impact learning group!

Customization & Personalized Learning

For an extended period, educational technology struggled to individualize the learning experience for each student—until now. Thanks to AI and technology, customizing learning experiences is finally feasible, presenting a significant opportunity that we must fully exploit.

Opting for an online community platform that facilitates the customization and personalization of learning journeys stands out as a wise choice. This capability is a substantial advantage, particularly in an era where adaptive learning has become a reality.

Intelligent Automation

The best community platform should possess the capability to automate repetitive tasks, ultimately saving hundreds of working hours. A proficient learning management system is crafted to expedite processes, working efficiently even when you're not actively engaged. Hence, robust automation stands out as a crucial feature. Without this functionality, there's little justification for investing in software to manage your online community.

What to explore: Imagine having Zapier inside your online community platform--amazing isn't it? Only Disco can do that. Check out how this powerful automation works at Disco.

Powerful Integration

Have you come across the phrase, "Software is eating the world"? It may sound audacious, but it is true. Consider how many apps and social media platforms you use daily for your own community. Reflecting on this, the capability for multiple integrations becomes a crucial factor in selecting an effective online community platform.

The freedom to seamlessly integrate and embed your preferred online tools into an all-in-one community platform empowers you to effortlessly engage members, enhance creativity in organizing activities, and more.

What to explore: If you have a Slack community, Disco offers an exceptional feature—Slack Integration. Beyond its various integrations, this feature stands out as one of Disco's most remarkable creations. It allows Slack communities to streamline communication in both Slack and Disco seamlessly, eliminating the need for manual coordination.

Scalability

Scalability is important in community building. It empowers online community managers to handle increased content, interactions, and user engagement seamlessly. It not only contributes to a smooth user experience but also supports the long-term sustainability of the community by preventing potential bottlenecks or limitations. In essence, having a scalability feature is instrumental in fostering the continuous growth, resilience, and success of an online community.

Affordable Pricing Plans

An online community platform with cost-effective pricing ensures that the financial burden on individuals or organizations is minimized, breaking down barriers to entry and fostering a community that reflects a broader cross-section of society. This affordability not only promotes sustained community engagement but also cultivates a loyal user base, contributing to the overall vibrancy and success of the community.

What to explore: Imagine using the most complete community software solution for only $79 monthly. Compared to other world-class learning platforms such as 360learning (max $800/month) and SanaLabs (€7,200 annually)--Disco can be the most affordable one considering its impact on users and community leaders.

7 Best Online Community Platforms in 2024 (Free Forever/Free Trials)

  1. Disco: World's Best Online Community Platform in 2024
  2. Slack: Excellent Communication Tool for Online Communities
  3. Discord: Biggest Hang-Out Place for Interest-based Communities
  4. Facebook Groups: A Free Online Community Platform
  5. Mighty Networks: Most Established Community Platform
  6. Circle: All-in-One Community Tool for Creators and Brands
  7. BetterMode (formerly Tribe): Ideal for Larger Communities - no free trial

#1 Disco: The World's Best Online Community Platform in 2024

DISCO is the best online community platform that brings together learning and community, providing a seamless and user-friendly experience for both founders and members. It is designed to support the creation, operation, monetization tools, and scaling of successful learning communities, offering a range of powerful features that cater to both small businesses and large organizations.

Why Disco? 3 Major Reasons

1. The Most Trusted Platform by the World's Top
Online Communities

Disco is the most trusted platform for industry giants, empowering them to efficiently run and scale their diverse learning communities.

With a versatile and adaptable approach, Disco caters to the unique needs of various sectors, including accelerators incubators (YSpace), cohort-based learning platforms (Dribbble), virtual academies and schools (altMBA), membership communities (WeAreNoCode), certification programs (like Hyper Island), and many more! Disco's commitment to supporting different learning formats ensures that industry leaders can provide tailored, high-impact learning experiences within their communities.

Discover how Disco helps these online communities to manage, operate, and scale.

2. An Award-winning software for community builders

In 2023, Disco proudly clinched the title of EdTech Startup of the Year at the EdTech Breakthrough Awards, a testament to its groundbreaking contributions. Furthermore, it secured a spot in Fast Company's prestigious list of Most Innovative Companies in Education for 2023, solidifying its position as a leader in the educational technology landscape.

3. Has 24 powerful tools to manage, operate, and scale your online community

Discover the unparalleled capabilities of Disco, which boasts five key features crucial for modern learning platforms: intelligent automation, integration, customization, scalability, and affordability. Learn how you can use Disco in your daily operations:

Disco as a Course Creation Tool

It stands out with its advanced learning tool suite, transforming education for educators and learning businesses. Supporting diverse content formats and interactive elements such as forums, chats, and third-party tool integration, Disco allows users to seamlessly design unique learning products tailored to individual needs. Key features include:

Course Templates, Course Builder, and Custom Onboarding: Establish a foundation for diverse learning experiences, create self-paced or cohort-based online courses aligned with brand goals, and personalize onboarding for impactful learning journeys.

Robust Reporting, Content Library, and SCORM Support: Track individual and cohort-wide progress with robust reporting, manage multimedia resources in real-time with an evergreen content library, and ensure seamless SCORM file migration for interactive elements preservation.

Disco as a Community and Engagement Tool

The platform revolutionizes the learning landscape by seamlessly merging community and learning into a vibrant space, fostering unprecedented engagement and growth. Incorporating channels into any learning product enhances member engagement, encouraging dynamic peer-to-peer learning. Key features include:

Channels & DMS, Social Feeds, and Events: Empower users with Public and Private Channels, Threaded Replies, and Forums for organized discussions, along with Zoom integration for automated invites, diverse events, and detailed event reports.

Slack Integration, Mobile App, Custom Profiles, and Member Directory: Enrich communication with seamless Slack integration and a mobile app, while customizable profiles and a searchable directory enhance connectivity, creating an engaging learning environment.

Disco as an AI Assistant and Productivity Tool

As an AI assistant and productivity tool, Disco redefines efficiency by revolutionizing the management of learning communities. Disco's most innovative feature, the AI Co-Pilot, reduces manual workloads through AI-assisted member management. Key features include:

AI Co-Pilot: Elevate community management with AI-assisted member management, personalized responses, bulk messaging, and intelligent automation for a cohesive member experience.

Groups & Subgroups, Course Cloning, and Integrations: Streamline management with groups and sub-groups, course and content cloning, universal content edits, and seamless third-party integrations for a fluid operation.

Disco as a Revenue Accelerator

Disco's accelerated revenue growth transforms learning businesses by offering a comprehensive platform for diversified offerings and sustained income streams. Key features include:

Customizable Membership Tiers, Member Management, and Analytics: Support different learning products with customizable membership tiers, diverse course portfolios, and actionable insights for effective pricing and marketing strategies.

Discount Codes, Learning Products, and Enterprise Features: Increase sales and revenue with custom discount codes, reward loyal members, and ensure scalability with enterprise-specific features for larger enterprises.

Pricing Plans for Disco

Embark on your learning business journey with Disco's comprehensive features, available at a budget-friendly $79/month subscription billed annually. The four pricing tiers cater to various needs:

14-day free trial - $0 fee. Unlike other platforms, Disco provides this opportunity, allowing you to explore its features before committing. If you're not ready to sign up just yet, take advantage of our interactive product tour to discover the platform's capabilities at your own pace.

Pro - Ideal for Community Launch - $79/month. One community for up to 1000 members, supporting 10 learning products, with essential features like basic branding, channels & DMs, Slack integration, basic analytics, and more.

Organization - Most Popular for Community Growth - $359/month. Encompasses all Pro features, catering to up to 10,000 members, with full custom branding, AI co-pilot, advanced communication tools, membership sales capability, and more.

Max - Optimal for Scaling Learning Products - $999/month. Incorporates everything in the Organization plan, with additional features like custom roles (coming soon!) and migration support for seamless scalability.

Enterprise - Tailored for Large Enterprises - custom pricing. Designed for large enterprises, providing unlimited learning products, a dedicated success lead, quarterly strategy reviews, custom training, integration services and support, product roadmap shaping, and soon-to-come SAML SSO. Unleash the full potential of your large-scale enterprise with this comprehensive plan.

#2 Slack: Excellent Communication Tool for Online Communities

Chances are, you've used Slack or know someone who has in a corporate or educational setting. It's one of the most robust community platforms on the market — in fact, we even allow integration with Slack onto the Disco platform because it's that good. Slack on its own, however, isn't comprehensive enough to host courses, and events, and manage the member experience from top to bottom.

Screenshot of the Slack platform
Key features of Slack

Within your individual Slack community, there are multiple means of communication and ways to get Facebook group and group members together, like:

  • Audio and video call options
  • Emoji responses to messages, plus the ability to add custom-branded emojis
  • Channels, threads, and groups for different means of collaboration
Pricing for Slack

Free: $0 a month. You can create a Slack channel for yourself and members at no cost. The channel won't archive messages past 90 days.

Pro: $7.25 a month to see your channel's entire messaging history. You can integrate tools like Zoom and Google Drive, among others, which can allow you to share content.

Business: For $12.50 a month, you can enjoy 24/7 assistance from Slack's team with a more dedicated customer experience.

Slack has the market cornered on collaboration and communication, but it fails to stack up against Disco and other community platforms that want to integrate learning into their experience. You'd have to use several other tools to generate the functionality of a single tool.

What to explore: Already started your community at Slack? No worries! Integrate your Slack learning community into Disco to streamline your communication on both platforms.

#3 Discord: Biggest Hang-Out Place for Interest-based Communities

Fans of gaming, pop culture, and other interests or hobbies have likely heard of Discord, if not used it themselves. Discord is relied on heavily in industries like programming and software engineering, too, for sharing code and tips and tricks. But at its core, Discord was designed to bring people together for whatever affinities they share.

Screenshot of the Discord platform
Key features of Discord

Discord boasts millions of daily users, so it has stellar brand recognition for personal and professional use. While many online communities and even founders or operators of online courses and other learning experiences use Discord to host their content and communicate with members, the functionality ends there.

  • 300M+ registered users that navigate the site easily with clean UI and UX
  • Has native desktop and mobile apps available for download, as well as browser use
Pricing for Discord

Discord is a free tool for community founders. Anyone, anywhere can create a Discord channel and invite members onboard. 

Discord's Nitro plans to allow for larger file uploads and profile personalization, should those be relevant to your community, and are billed based on your location. Typically, the cost of a free plan is under $10 a month.

While Discord is a great tool, the platform doesn't support the building, hosting, and scaling of a learning community and supplemental experiences. While founders can upload content and links to drive revenue, you can't process payment or track member progress like you can with Disco.

#4 Facebook Group: A Free Online Community Platform

Facebook Groups serves as a free, dedicated community platform where users can connect, share, and engage in discussions around shared interests. It provides a centralized space for individuals with common passions, fostering a sense of community and interaction.

Key features of Facebook groups
  • Offers a platform for diverse and robust community interaction, facilitating discussions and connections among members
  • Users can seamlessly share media and collaborate within the group, enhancing the overall experience
  • The platform provides personalized notifications, ensuring members stay informed about relevant discussions and updates within the community

Despite its popularity, Facebook Groups have downsides. Privacy concerns persist as members' information is tied to personal profiles. The algorithmic feed can bury important posts, leading to information overload. Moreover, content control challenges may arise, affecting the quality and relevance of discussions within the group.

Instead of risking your members' privacy, select a community platform that has a strong privacy policy and won't sell your data for the company's benefit.

#5 Mighty Networks: The Most Established Community Platform

Those who have been around the learning industry for some time will undoubtedly recognize Mighty Networks. They're one of the more established community platforms, allowing founders to sync not only courses but blogs, podcasts, and other types of content.

Screenshot of the Might Networks platform
Key features of Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks offers strong community capabilities while offering founders additional functionality to scale their business, by:

  • Creating multiple spaces like feeds, channels, groups, and even shops where members can collaborate
  • Allowing live streaming options for founders, team members, or staff who want to discuss content on-demand
  • Bundling content or learning experience purchases in one transaction
Pricing for Mighty Networks

Community Plan: For $33 a month, Mighty Networks Community Plan members get access to their environment that allows uploads of native video plus live streaming capabilities, and creates chat functionality or integration with Zoom to host events and other experiences.

Business Plan: $99 a month lets you start to host online cohort-based and self-paced courses. You'll also get deeper analytics for tracking member progress.

Branded Apps: Custom pricing, specifically for existing apps that want to leverage their functionality to host more community-based and learning-based experiences without having to move platforms. The app will be also available on all major app stores.

Mighty Networks has the luxury of name recognition and widespread brand awareness, but it ultimately doesn't bring learning and community together in the way Disco does. Instead, the creator or founder gets the spotlight on Mighty Networks, and community comes at a distant second, with learning experiences feeling like an afterthought.

#6 Circle: All-in-One Community Tool for Creators and Brands

Circle is an all-in-one community tool for creators and brands, and it's a great solution if you are just that — a creator or a brand. However, founders of learning communities will find Circle lacks the power many community platforms provide in helping communities scale and monetize their offerings. 

Screenshot of the Circle platform
Key features of Circle

Circle offers many use cases for their product, including brands, creators of online courses brand-led communities, customer communities, coaching communities, plus clubs and organizations. For whatever the purpose may be, Circle offers communities:

  • Different communal spaces, including public forums and private chats
  • Member directory to track and connect community members
  • Paid membership, the ability to gate content for upsell, and coupons and discount offerings for members
  • Advanced analytics for understanding community and business trends
Pricing for Circle
  • Professional: $99/month - Ideal for community building, it offers rich member profiles, discussions, events, and more. Additional features include courses, live streams, and unlimited members, fostering a vibrant community experience. A 14-day free trial is available.
  • Business: $219/month - Scaling communities with workflows and customizations, it encompasses all Professional features, plus custom profile fields, API access, and more. Exclusive to the annual plan is migration services for courses. A 14-day free trial is offered.
  • Enterprise: $399/month - Tailored for robust business operations, it includes everything in Business, along with unlimited workflows, custom single sign-on, and priority support. Exclusive annual features comprise concierge onboarding, quarterly business reviews, and a dedicated customer success manager. A 14-day free trial is provided.
  • Alternative Solutions: Basic $49/month - An entry-level plan for starting a simple community, it includes core features like rich member profiles and discussions. While specific trial details are not specified, it serves as a cost-effective option for those beginning their community journey.

#7 Bettermode (formerly Tribe): Ideal for Larger Communities

Bettermode is an all-in-one community engagement platform designed to enhance customer relationships and streamline the customer experience. Bid farewell to the complexities of managing multiple tools, as Bettermode provides a comprehensive solution. From discussions and ideation to Q&A, help centers, and events, Bettermode empowers companies to engage customers effectively.

Key Features of Bettermode
  • Utilize discussions and gamification to foster active and meaningful engagement
  • Promote peer-to-peer support, leading to a 50% reduction in support tickets
  • Delight customers with customer success resources, resulting in a 20% increase in NPS & CSAT scores
  • Leverage user-generated content to scale organic traffic, achieving a 30% increase
  • Effortlessly build communities with customizable templates or create your own to suit specific needs
Pricing for Bettermode

Bettermode is the only top community platform without a free trial, yet it can be one of the best for larger communities.

Advanced: Starts at $599 a month, but smaller communities, startups, and other businesses needing a community function may not have the affordability of Bettermode's “least expensive” pricing tier, which offers nearly full customization of your community management platform here.

Enterprise: Custom pricing for larger businesses hosting big communities that need deep integrations and more corporate functionality, like legal review.

If adding learning experiences into your offerings, now or in the future, is a priority for business and revenue generation, Bettermode is not the platform for you. It offers zero functionality for creating, hosting, or scaling online courses, events, and other learning experiences. Those looking to bridge between learning and community in one environment wouldn't find the functionality necessary on a platform like Tribe.

Supercharge Your Learning Community

A step-by-step guide to build and grow a thriving learning community.

The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

Put your Community First on the Perfect Platform for your Business

To create a scalable business plan, you have to consider all possible channels of revenue generation. The elearning industry is set to hit $1 trillion by 2032, and there is a lot of money to be made by offering courses that help people change careers, build skills, or find new hobbies.

Choosing the right community platform today will ensure you can create revenue-generating experiences for your members down the line. You'll save time, money, and resources not needing to migrate members and content to a new tool when you choose the comprehensive tool from the start.

Disco is more than just a learning management system. It is a platform that combines learning and community, providing a range of powerful tools that allow founders and operators to create a unique and engaging experience for their members. Don't miss out 14-day free trial and if you have questions beyond this review, feel free to book a live demo with Team Disco!

Transform your learning community!

Join the 21-Day Learning Community Challenge today and embark on a journey that will redefine the way you build and engage with your learning community.

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The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

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The Learning Community Playbook delivers actionable insights, innovative frameworks, and valuable strategies to spark engagement, nurture growth, and foster deeper connections. Access this resource and start building a vibrant learning ecosystem today!

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