Top 5 Circle.so Alternatives 2024: AI-Powered Tools

While Circle.so is a popular community platform, it may not meet every online community's needs. Explore our guide to discover robust Circle.so alternatives offering advanced features like AI-powered tools, comprehensive LMS, and efficient member management.

What you'll learn in this article:

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While Circle.so is a popular community platform, it may not meet every online community's needs. Explore our guide to discover robust Circle.so alternatives offering advanced features like AI-powered tools, comprehensive learning management systems (LMS), and efficient member management systems.

What we will discover together:

  • Circle.so: An online community platform designed for brands and creators, Circle facilitates the creation, engagement, monetization, and scaling of communities, courses, and events. However, it lacks a fully developed LMS which is crucial for educational engagement.
  • The presence of an online community platform is a starting point, but it's the integration of a robust LMS that propels community growth. This integration enables members not only to learn but also to collaborate effectively, enriching the community experience.
  • Introducing Disco Learning + Community Platform: An innovative AI-powered platform that surpasses Circle in functionality. Disco is the all-in-one solution for virtual academies, associations, nonprofits, and enterprises, blending AI-driven tools with comprehensive learning and community features to provide a seamless, unified experience.

Building and managing an online community is challenging, especially without an all-in-one platform. Many communities struggle to scale and lose money due to scattered operations across various tools. While platforms like Circle.so aim to streamline community management and engagement, they may not fulfill all requirements, particularly regarding robust LMS, member onboarding, and engagement analytics.

What is Circle.so?

In simplest terms, Circle community platform helps creators build and manage online communities, courses, and events under their brand. It offers tools for engagement, monetization, and customization.

Circle.so excels in seamlessly integrating community and content, offering extensive customization options and advanced monetization tools. However, it falls short in offering a robust learning management system with the flexibility of real businesses, customizable onboarding, and flexible membership options.

In short, Circle is appropriate for creators looking for an easy-to-use tool, however, falls short for enterprises that require LMS-like functionality that is combined with a community function.

A great contender is Disco.co, an all-in-one AI-powered learning and community platform purposely built to elevate education with community-based learning and grow communities with integrated learning activities.

Disco.co is trusted by the world’s top community builders, including virtual academies, membership communities, associations, and customer communities such as the Toronto Board of Trade, CourseHero, and Monitor Deloitte, solidifying its leadership in AI within the learning and community space.

5 Features to Look For When Choosing a Circle.so Alternative

While exploring alternatives to Circle.so, it’s vital to remember the essential community features that contribute to the success of a thriving community. There are 5 must-have features that every community manager should seek when choosing an alternative to Circle.so:

Key Feature #1: AI-Powered Platform

Having AI integrated into your community platform is a game-changer. Imagine having a sidekick in every corner of your learning community dashboard that answers your queries, create discussion posts, writes prompts for you, and suggests ideas for how you can improve the engagement of your members.

Disco AI Sidekick

An AI sidekick won’t only save you time but also money to operate and manage your own community. It’s an instant team member that can accomplish tasks faster and smarter, helping you to answer member questions, draft lesson content, and generate quizzes and assessments in a second.

Although Circle integrates AI to automate customer engagement and content moderation aiding community managers in maintaining an active community space, its AI features act more as a supportive tool rather than the core of the platform.

In contrast, Disco AI is an AI-first platform, with a native AI system built from the ground up to revolutionize online learning communities. It not only automates tasks but also provides deep insights and personalization, making it an integral part of the community's ecosystem and offering a more comprehensive AI experience compared to Circle. Be the first one to try our AI sidekick with a 14-day free trial.

Key Feature #2: Robust LMS and Learning Capabilities

The ability to create learning experiences in your community platform is pivotal. Nowadays, online communities aren’t just about social feeds, discussion forums, and messaging–every community member expects to learn in their online community even before joining.

By integrating learning into your community, you are attracting potential members who are looking to acquire skills and grow their capabilities with people who share similar interests and values.

Circle strongly combines community and content altogether, but the content structure isn’t advanced enough to ensure a transformative learning environment among your members. It only has basic functionalities which makes it harder for both community managers and members to navigate the online courses.

Imagine a course builder that was found inside a community platform–this is what Disco LMS looks like. With Disco LMS, you can integrate learning seamlessly with community spaces through creating a variety of learning products–from self-paced courses, to cohort-based courses, and hybrid online courses.

Apart from that, you can edit, update, and create your content with AI sidekick, and duplicate courses in just one click so you don’t have to redo the work. Disco’s powerful AI course builder allows you to issue certificates effortlessly with your branding and design.

How Dribbble Launched their Product Design Course with a Robust LMS

Leading companies such as Dribbble used this approach by launching a “Product Design Course” focusing on hands-on experience and mentorship. They chose Disco.co as their learning community platform for its intuitive user interface and robust learning tools.

Additionally, Disco's seamless integration of community and learning experiences enhances engagement and fosters connections among students. Learn more about how learning experiences change the trajectory of Dribbble as a leading platform for designers.

Key Feature #3: Member Onboarding & Groups

When managing a large community, connecting and onboarding members are critical. Large communities have a hard time connecting their members since they are performing a massive number of groups at one time. The secret to connecting large groups is to organize members into subgroups, creating mini-communities under one big organization.

This is one of the powerful strategies done by AltMBA to scale their 7-figure learning community while keeping their learners engaged. With the power of Disco’s group & subgroup functionality, they categorized their learners based on their interests, locations, and profiles.

Sign up at Disco and apply these steps in your own virtual academy:

1. Navigate to the sidebar of your Disco dashboard, and select "Members and Groups" to manage your community.

2. Upon creating a new course, a corresponding group is auto-generated, enabling you to communicate with all enrolled members effortlessly.

3. For tailored interactions, create a "Custom Group" by entering a unique group name, choosing a distinctive color, and setting the visibility to either 'everyone' or 'admins only.' Confirm by clicking the "Create Group" button.

4. To view the members of a specific group, simply click on a person’s profile, and a list of groups to which they belong will be displayed, including the one you have just created.

Another critical factor in community building is understanding members through the onboarding process. In fact, top communities such as AltMBA know very well the importance of member onboarding which makes them choose Disco among other community platforms.

Currently, Circle.so has a simple onboarding process that doesn’t support comprehensive customization. This is where the Disco platform comes in–Disco enables community leaders to personalize their onboarding flow according to their preferences.

Later on, the qualitative data from the onboarding flow can be used to improve community engagement activities which lead to personalized experiences.

Key Feature #4: Engagement Analytics & Leaderboards

Have you been curious about who exactly from your members are falling behind? You would like to know, but what if your current community platform doesn’t support this kind of analytics?

At Disco, we know how communities fail to capture the engagement scores of their members simply because their community platform doesn’t provide comprehensive analytics tools.

For instance, you’ve launched a 21-day challenge to boost your community engagement. You’ve seen massive engagement among your members; however, you’ve been seeing the same people who ask, comment, and react on your discussion boards.

With community tools like Circle, it only provides limited analytics features which doesn’t cover engagement scores and insights. With Disco, you’ll be able to track the members who are falling behind and those who are hyperactive through our engagement analytics and leaderboards.

1. Navigate to the admin area, then select 'Insights' followed by 'Engagement' to access the engagement analytics.

2. Examine the engagement scores for each member, which are calculated based on their activities within the community. Utilize the option to filter by date and sort by scores to identify members who may need additional support or to recognize the most engaged individuals.

3. Customize the impact of each engagement activity by using the 'Edit Weights' feature. This allows you to assign specific point values to different actions (e.g., awarding 1 point per comment).

4. Integrate the dynamic leaderboard into your community's main dashboard or within individual product dashboards to foster a sense of competition and recognition among members.

After setting your engagement metrics, this will be reflected in the Disco leaderboard which you can highlight on your community's homepage.

With leaderboards, you can easily drive engagement by rewarding members according to their participation, giving them badges, and highlighting their achievements in your online community.

Creating a healthy competition among your members will motivate them to participate in community activities which leads to organic engagement.

Key Feature #5: Overall Community Management & Customization

Lastly, when selecting the best alternative to Circle, choose the platform that will allow you to own your platform with robust customization features and an easy-to-use community management system.

This aspect includes intelligent automation, advanced integration, custom branding and design, and a built-in CRM or customer relationship management that functions within a large community for deepening member engagement.

How Female Founders Streamlined their Operations and Enhance User Experience

Female Founders, a prominent European community advancing gender equality in tech and innovation, has been utilizing Disco for automation, intuitive design, and content hosting. Disco has helped Female Founders streamline their operations and enhance the user experience with Disco’s powerful community management tool.

To wrap up, choosing the best alternatives to Circle needs more thoughtful action. With these 5 features that are critical to your community’s sustainability and growth, you should be able to add them to your checklist.

The 5 Best Alternatives to Circle.so: AI-Powered Online Community Platforms

If you're considering Circle.so alternatives and contemplating a migration to a new platform, you've landed at the right place. Here, we'll delve into the finest alternatives to Circle available online.

  • Disco. A World-Class AI-Powered Learning and Community Platform
  • Mighty Networks. One of Learning's Most Tenured Platforms
  • BetterMode (formerly Tribe). A Customizable Community Platform
  • Discord. The Most Popular Community App for Gen Z
  • Slack. The #1 Communication Tool for Learning Businesses

#1. DISCO.CO: A World-Class AI-Powered Learning and Community Platform

Looking for the best alternative to Circle? Introducing Disco, a world-class AI-powered learning community platform for every virtual academy, association, and enterprise community.

Disco is widely recognized as the top choice for both community and learning platforms. It's expertly crafted to support learning in communities and to help communities thrive through learning. Our platform is all about working together, combining education and social interaction in a way that's easy to understand and use, making collaboration better for everyone.

Disco: Powering the learning businesses of the future

It has become the preferred option for virtual academies, membership groups, corporate networks, associations, and customer-based communities, earning the trust of top-notch entities such as the Toronto Board of Trade, CourseHero, and Monitor Deloitte.

Disco empowers the learning communities of the future through its modern operating system for learning to help every educator and founder boost revenue, create transformative learning experiences, and operate seamlessly.

Disco vs Circle: A Comprehensive Comparison

When weighing the options between Disco and Circle, it's important to consider the distinct features that set them apart. Disco shines with its advanced capabilities and user-centric approach, offering a superior experience for community builders and members alike.

Here are specific key points that give Disco the edge:

Feature #1. Disco AI Sidekick: A Native AI Integration

Although Circle has its Community AI, Disco's AI Sidekick still shines through compared to Circle's AI. Our AI Sidekick is a native AI tool that isn't a ChatGPT extension. It has several functionalities such as:

  • drafting lesson plans so you can create your online course in minutes
  • generating images to make your content more interactive and saving you dollars for stock image subscriptions
  • creating quizzes and assessment questions based on your prompts
  • responding to member queries which cuts your community managing time 10x faster
  • generating several prompts to choose from
  • offering suggestions based on your community data

Disco's AI Sidekick is the true game-changer in the learning + community sector, making every community manager's job more efficient than ever before.

Feature #2. Robust LMS inside a Community Platform

Another significant advantage of Disco is its robust set of learning tools that merge community and education into one seamless experience. Unlike Circle, Disco offers an environment where learning is integral to the community space.

This integration allows for creating and consuming educational content without ever leaving the platform, fostering a unique ecosystem where members can learn, share, and grow together.

How to create your first course:

1. Start by clicking on "Products" and hit the “+” icon to start crafting your new course in the Disco platform. Select a template based on your needs, whether it's for public access, exclusive to members, or by invitation only.

2. Once you've chosen a template, you'll be greeted with a variety of pre-formatted options that you can easily tweak and personalize. From intuitive drag-and-drop blocks to diverse content types, customizing your course is a breeze.

3. For example, a self-paced course template provides a ready-made curriculum structure, allowing you to organize your content into digestible modules. Add new elements with a simple click of the “+” icon—be it text, videos, assignments, or quizzes.

4. Want to save time? Let AI draft a lesson in mere seconds! While the AI is at work, you can rearrange modules or add new ones to perfect your course flow. Also, extend your course's reach with additional features, such as events, a social feed, dedicated channels, and a knowledge library—all designed to enhance the learning experience.

5. Ready to go live? Publishing your course is just a click away. Open the doors for eager learners to register and embark on their educational journey with you. Apart from this, you can create your public pages indexed by Google so potential users can find you effortlessly.

6. Keep an eye on success with the analytics feature on the right side. Want to replicate the course for a new group? Clone it with ease and adjust for your next cohort. Lastly, set up certificates to reward your learners and preview the registration page to ensure everything is set for a great first impression.

This is how robust Disco's learning tool suite is with the integration of community tools to ensure your success in your educational business!

Feature #3. Custom Onboarding for Community Growth

Disco's platform is designed with custom onboarding processes that are tailored to the unique needs of each community, driving engagement and growth from the outset.

Circle's onboarding features are beneficial, but they lack the customization that Disco offers to make every new member feel at home and connected to the community's purpose.

1. Assuming you are logged in, navigate to the 'Admin Area' and then the members tab to initiate the onboarding process.

2. Customize your onboarding flow with ease: toggle on to send personalized welcome messages or off to skip onboarding questions, tailoring the experience to your community's needs.

3. Enhance your welcome with AI Sidekick: effortlessly generate a warm welcome message or craft community guidelines without starting from scratch. This feature is designed to save you valuable time, streamlining content creation to set up your onboarding in a fraction of the time.

4. Engage with insightful onboarding questions: use these to refine your community operations and activities. Choose to keep member responses private or display them publicly on profiles for a personalized touch.

5. Before you welcome your new members, utilize the “Preview Onboarding” feature to ensure everything is perfectly in place for a smooth introduction to the community.

Feature #4. Disco as the #1 Enterprise Community Platform

Disco stands out in its service to larger organizations by offering a comprehensive suite of enterprise features, which include:

  • white-label integrations,
  • robust APIs, and
  • adherence to enterprise compliance requirements.

These features are tailored to enable seamless scalability and facilitate smooth transitions between different community operations—a level of sophistication that Circle's more basic feature set does not provide.

Designed to meet the intricate demands of expansive communities and organizations, Disco's enterprise tools ensure that businesses can customize their platforms to reflect their brand, integrate with existing systems, and maintain compliance with industry standards, all while scaling their operations efficiently.

Some of the biggest names in the industry that use Disco to manage their growing community and learning business:

  • Course Hero
  • Monitor Deloitte
  • Toronto Board of Trade
  • AltMBA
  • XPRIZE
  • CILAR
  • and many more!

Feature #5. Exceptional Customer Success Support

The level of customer success support provided by Disco is unparalleled. The platform ensures that large organizations have access to a dedicated team of experts who are committed to the success of their community. This contrasts with the support offered by Circle, highlighting Disco's dedication to empowering community managers with ongoing strategic and technical assistance.

To fully understand the advantages of Disco over Circle, including its native AI integration and comprehensive learning tools, visit the detailed comparison of Disco vs Circle. Discover why Disco is the platform of choice for those who prioritize a seamless blend of community engagement and educational opportunities.

Real Success Stories from Disco's Customers

“It was hard to find a social media platform for our learning community that aligned with our goals of live interactive learning AND kept us, the user, at the center of their mission until we found Disco. It feels like they made it specifically for us! It is easy to say that we would not have been able to grow as fast as a school if it weren't for Disco.” – Hannah Baker, Co-Founder of The Fountain Institute

Start building your community using the Disco platform with our 14-day free trial.

#2. Mighty Networks: One of Learning's Most Tenured Platforms

Mighty Networks is one of learning's most tenured platforms, providing online communities a place to collaborate and grow their learning experiences for over half a decade.

Their target audience already lives on different sites like Slack or Discord, but Mighty Networks offers stronger membership community capabilities and is beginning to support communities in building out better online course management and support for different learning experiences.

Screenshot of Mighty Networks website
Pros: Mighty Networks
  • Affordability: Some of the most affordable pricing for communities of all sizes
  • Tenure: MN enjoys name and brand recognition as an original platform for online communities
  • Strong community aspects and integrations to support community curation and growth
Cons: Mighty Networks
  • Members have noted difficulty navigating the platform, often leading to a distracting learning environment
  • Administrators have noted difficulty setting up the platform to best support a community and supplemental experiences
  • For creators looking for a true learning management system to build a community and business, it doesn't have the same functionality and customization options to build a tailor-made learning experience

Both Circle and Mighty Networks base their core offerings around community empowerment but lack when it comes to building out full learning experiences.

Founders would need to find a new platform entirely or use multiple platforms to create a well-rounded member experience in which community enrichment and learning exposure can happen simultaneously, as they do on platforms like Disco.‍

#3. BetterMode (formerly Tribe): A Customizable Community Platform

Bettermode, formerly Tribe, is a platform that was built for companies to have an all-in-one communication platform, with a customizable community feature to their unique needs. Bettermode lets you integrate apps, customize with blocks, your own branding, colors, and logos, and manage customer-brand relationships in their proprietary tool.

Screenshot of BetterMode (formerly Tribe) website
Pros: Bettermode
  • Highly customizable (no code necessary) so brands can create the online community they want with the ability to upload content and link outs to events
  • Multiple ready-made community templates to save you hours of work from scratch
  • A hands-on team that wants to help customers create their unique space
Cons: Bettermode
  • Expensive for smaller communities and businesses
  • No functionality to create online courses, events, and other learning experiences, so it's irrelevant for online communities that want a one-stop-shop for hosting learning experiences and communities on one platform

Unlike Circle, Bettermode is not a learning platform or a learning management system. It's not equipped to host learning experiences or allow for curriculum creation and duplication and is rather a deeply integrated community platform similar to Slack or Discord.

It wouldn't be suited as an all-in-one learning and community management solution, like Disco, so it's important to consider if and when learning experience integration like virtual events and courses might become a part of your larger offering so you find a solution that brings both aspects of your business together, rather than keeping them on separate platforms.

Read how career accelerator On Deck is using Disco to save time, money, and resources that they can reinvest back into their community and supplemental offerings.

#4. Discord: The Most Popular Community App for Gen Z

Discord is one of the most popular community apps on the market, with a specific focus on interest groups and affinities like art, gaming, and podcasting--similar to Facebook Groups. Discord's goal is to create spaces that bring people together “to talk every day and hang out more often,” says the brand's website.

Screenshot of Discord website

Discord boasts over 300 million registered users. Its simple UX and deep brand recognition make it a favorite of founders and creators in the learning industry, but it's not necessarily equipped to handle the integration of cohort-based courses, self-paced courses, and other learning experiences as it is the deeper community aspect.

Pros: Discord
  • Very affordable, if not entirely free, for large communities to gather on
  • Name and brand recognition lend themselves to easier member onboarding and navigation
  • Great for live streaming capabilities to members for webinars, live events
Cons: Discord
  • Not designed for learning communities — while content can be dropped into Discord, you can't seamlessly run self-paced or cohort-based on the platform, so you would need a separate platform to host and create or duplicate curriculum
  • Not as customizable as other community platforms with tool integrations and branding‍

While Discord enjoys brand recognition from millions of active users today, it doesn't have the same impact in the learning industry due to its lack of learning integrations.

Some communities still lean on it for the community aspect of their business, choosing to host learning experiences on a separate platform, but learning truly thrives when it's coupled with community. Platforms like Circle and even Disco are better suited for learning communities that want to incorporate and monetize better learning experiences.

#5. Slack: A Team Communication Platform for Digital Workers

If you've spent time in a corporate setting or a modern startup, chances are you've used Slack. “Slack is your digital HQ,” the brand boasts, proving it's more of a business solution than it is a hub for learning businesses, but it corners the market on communication and collaboration tools for both commercial and private use.

Screenshot of Disco Slack Communities page

Slack, a popular team chat platform, provides all the features necessary for collaborating with teammates and community members together, like video and audio calls, group chat, custom emoji creation, tool integration, threads, channels, and more. This makes it super favorable as a community tool, but not an all-in-one learning platform like Circle and Disco.

Pros: Slack
  • Can be easily integrated into Disco's learning platform
  • Deep brand recognition for easy member onboarding and channel maintenance
  • Customizable with custom emojis, channels, threads, and spaces for members to hang out
  • Affordable for brands and customers of most sizes and scales at under $15 a month for almost all plans‍
Cons: Slack
  • Not dedicated to learning communities; while integrations run deep, Slack doesn't afford founders and teams the capability to host learning experiences like courses and events. Founders need the capability to host all types of learning experiences, including courses and masterminds, and monetize them with all the tools and functionality of a payment processor.
  • Would have to be used separately in conjunction with another learning management system or platform
The Biggest Advantage: Slack Learning Communities
Disco Slack Community customer showcase

Slack is wonderful — it's why platforms like Circle (and Disco!) offer deep integration with Slack!

Disco's integration with Slack for learning communities provides a seamless experience for community engagement and learning within the popular communication platform. The integration enables a cohesive environment where community members can easily interact, learn, and collaborate.

Key features include deep Slack integration, allowing automated direct messages, reminders, and member engagement within Slack. This integration helps bridge the gap between essential tools, making operations more fluid. Disco's focus on AI-driven automation, engagement tools, and a versatile learning product offering ensures a comprehensive learning experience.

The platform's customizable design, deep Slack integration, and innovative AI Sidekick contribute to a streamlined and efficient learning community management system. Disco's approach stands out for its emphasis on creating a modern operating system tailored for learning businesses, providing valuable tools and support for community operators and learners alike.

"Absolutely LOVE the platform and it has improved our community 10x! Went from 5 different platforms for events, member directory, content hub, etc. to just one. Kudos to the team!" - Neil Weitzman, Co-Founder & CEO of PORCH

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Supercharge Your Learning Community

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

The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

Our Final Note

Circle is one of many learning platforms and community-oriented solutions that have hit the market as the learning industry continues to rapidly grow. It's important for founders to consider not only what their online community and learning business look like today, but what they may look like in a year, three years, or even five or ten years down the line.

Do you see a place for extended learning opportunities in your business plan? If so, there is a need for much more robust community solutions, especially if you're a virtual academy, bootcamp, or micro-school that's growing its community or is ready to scale entirely.

Disco is Circle's best alternative for every learning business

Founders and operators of learning businesses looking to build, operate, and scale all aspects of brand communities for their business will need more than Circle's discussion forum and light learning integrations. With Disco, you can create deep community discussion and collaboration for your members while providing them with life-changing learning experiences that will improve their lives and careers.

The best part? You can book a live demo. When you're ready, give our platform and our best features and functionality a try for 14 days free.

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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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