What is a Community Platform?
Community is defined as "A unified body of individuals" and the platform as "A place or opportunity for public discussion". To explain it in simpler terms, a community platform is a digital space where people come together to share similar ideas and content with each other, springing in the feeling of unity and belonging amongst themselves.
The best illustration of brand loyalty is a brand community. People that are emotionally involved with your brand will buy from you, read your material, tell their friends and family about you, and so on. However, on the contrary, just because someone is aware of your brand or has made a purchase from it does not indicate they are a member of an engaged or even engage-able brand community.
People that follow all of your material on social media, share your products or services, and content with others, and like watching everything your business does are your brand community. It's essential to consider that your brand's social media community is already present. It is your responsibility to locate this community, make direct contact with it, and develop a method for community members to communicate with one another. Consider having a group of people who you may use to test new products, ask questions about feature releases, post blog articles, and gather general feedback and guidance.
However, you must ensure that you're developing a healthy community that flourishes and rewards your community members since this community can assist your brand make customer-driven choices and spread the news about your business.
Discussions, messaging, and member profiles are common components of a community platform, which allow individuals to share their stories, experiences, thoughts, and opinions with others. More recently, community platforms have evolved to incorporate additional elements like polls and inquiries, event calendars, sub-groups, and, in some cases, online courses, which provide a community leader with more opportunities to foster interactions among members. There are several types of community platforms available, and which one is best depends on the community leaders' goals, motivations, and starting conditions.
Why is it important to build a brand community?
A brand community helps to bring together people with similar interests despite the vast geographical difference. The best community platforms allow users to engage in back-and-forth discussions, with the possibility of various connections being discovered along the way. When your company has a brand community platform, you can customize it to your needs and your community members have a strong association with your brand.
With a brand community platform you can:
- Enable the sharing of knowledge related to your business
- Figure out which customers are dissatisfied and get feedback
- Convert that feedback into feature requests
- Finally, ask community members for referrals, testimonials and online reviews
Thus, you can leverage a community platform to better engage your customers and grow your business.
However, to sustain high levels of engagement, community builders must ensure that they empower community members to share knowledge and engage in discussions. An audience is one to many whereas a community is many-to-many!
Customer loyalty may also be improved with the support of an online community. When you develop an online community, your customers will be able to get answers to their questions quickly, communicate with other people who share their interests, and refer your brand to their friends.
With this in mind, let's take a look at the most popular brand community platforms of 2022
Top Brand Community Platforms of 2022
"Create Online courses and communities on one platform"
Mighty Networks is a community platform designed to help people in the creation of online content, events, and courses and build online communities together in one space. Mighty networks lets users create membership sites to offer paid online courses, paid groups, or a combination of both. Mighty Networks was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA.
- No Ads
- Allows free trials
- Too complex
- Extremely expensive
"Bring together discussions, memberships, and content under one platform."
Circle.so is also a community platform similar to MightyNetworks. Circle.co helps creators who wish to bring together all of their community members from several social media platforms online onto one platform to enable them to participate in discussions and as a result, turn them into paying customers. Circle.co was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in the Greater New York Area, East Coast, Northeastern US.
- Less Complex
- Several Bugs
"A customizable community platform for businesses"
Tribe is a modern and fully customizable community platform website that helps businesses and creators launch branded online communities by providing a medium through which the brand could retain and interact with customers.
Tribe facilitates the user's community to be either public or private in terms of accessibility. It facilitates the interaction between the consumers and the brands to be simple and transparent.
- Easy Customization
- Free Trial Available
- No mobile App
- Limited customization
- Expensive plans
- Focus mostly on enterprise customers
4. Vanilla Forums
"Vibrant and modern online customer community forum."
Vanilla forms helps you in engaging the brand's customers with a community that will help them attain their objectives while at the same time creating a social bond with the brand and with each other. Thousands of businesses utilize Vanilla Forums to improve customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and cut support costs. Vanilla's clients include a diverse mix of companies from all around the world.
- Classic forum
- Customization available
- Limited Customization
- Not easy to use interface
- Very Expensive
- Heavily focused on enterprises
Description: Creating a Facebook Group is similar to creating a separate room on the social networking platform. It's a platform where individuals communicate in groups and discuss their mutual interests and perspectives. Facebook Groups allow users to organize, express aims, discuss concerns, post images, and share relevant information around a similar cause, topic, or activity.
- Easy to use
- Time Consuming
- Limited Features
"Civilized discussion for your community"
Discourse is a Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, which is a free, adaptable, and essential building piece for online discussion groups of all sizes, from small to large.Discourse is a basic, flat forum in which answers run in a straight line down the page. Replies are tied to the bottom and top of each post, allowing you to broaden the context of the conversation without interrupting the flow.
- Decent Design
- Effective Search
- Not user friendly
- Poor UI
- Backdated Design
- Expensive hosting service
"InSided powers customer engagement for SaaS companies"
Customers may use the inSided community platform to initiate a conversation, ask questions, engage in discussion, participate in surveys, and submit articles. Create subjects for your community and invite others to comment and vote on them.
As a provider, inSided not only offers a SaaS platform but also takes you through the full community strategy in a rather practical learning manner.
- Easy to use
- Good customer service
- Backdated UI
- Solely enterprise focused
With so many community platforms to select from, it's critical to figure out which one best fits your needs. When looking for an online community system, there are a few things to think about.
The very first step in choosing the ideal online community platform is to get to know the people who will be using it. Who is going to utilize the software? Are they going to be your workers or your customers? When choosing an online community platform, keep your target customers in mind.
There are a variety of online community solutions available, each with its own set of features and capabilities. Some services are simple, allowing users to merely send text messages, while others allow users to communicate other multimedia components as well as connect to social networking networks. While adding additional features may appear appealing, it will bring little value to your company and result in excessive expenses.
As a result, limit yourself to exactly the things you require. A community management system, especially if it's for your customers, should be simple to use. Make sure your platform works with all main operating systems and platforms, such as Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. With additional platforms supported, you'll be able to reach a larger audience. Find a solution that supports all of your needs while remaining affordable.
Key characteristics of a brand community platform
Building online customer communities is an efficient way to broaden a company's loyal customer base, increase its value, and build brand awareness. Because online communities are so critical to your organization, you should make every effort to develop effective ones.
Here's a list of things to look for while selecting a platform:
1. User Interface
The platform must have a user interface that is both simple and appealing, as well as an exceptional user experience. It should include features that allow you to represent your brand message, engage customers, and foster interactions between members of the community. Widgets for social network integration, SEO-friendly sites, diverse content formats, and threaded conversations are all important features for online communities to succeed.
2. Search Engine Optimization
For building online communities, a platform that is SEO and social sharing conducive is an excellent choice. These features help people find the material more easily, both naturally and through social media. Thousands of websites are created every day, but only those that are correctly SEO optimized reach their intended audience and become profitable.
Furthermore, the platform should be simple and inexpensive to build. Building online communities is a good fit for a SaaS, cloud-based service. Pre-configured widgets and self-serve deployment alternatives should be available.
It should have analytics so that you can keep track of all of your community members' behaviour trends. The goal of the in-depth study is to uncover your strengths and shortcomings so that you can design your community strategy accordingly. Proper insights can aid you in making informed judgments in the long term, resulting in increased company conversions.
Multi-channel reach is another must-have for a dependable online community platform, allowing members to access it from any location. It should also be available on the company's website, mobile app, and social media profiles.
Another factor to consider when choosing a platform is its security measure and the tools it provides for data security. A large number of visitors access the online community, thus it's critical to offer them a secure atmosphere in which to engage in various activities.
7. Engagement Tools
To sustain high levels of involvement in the community, all online community platforms include engagement tools such as polls, surveys, discussion boards, and chat functions.
8. Email Notifications
An online community management system links with your email marketing system, allowing you to communicate with your customers via email more efficiently. You can remain on top of your email communications using the email notification tool.
Customers currently have a plethora of alternatives from which to pick. Although providing outstanding quality and service is critical, it is not sufficient. To improve consumer engagement and loyalty, brands must invest in online community building. As a result, an online community platform is a must-have tool for any company.