Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped many SMBs choose the right community software so they can create a platform for collaboration and engage with their users.

Showing 1-20 of 104 products


Chaordix is a social community platform designed to help marketing, crowdsourcing and innovation teams to create and launch online communities for employees and consumers. Administrators can engage members through polls, challenge... Read more

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Higher Logic FrontRunners 2021

Higher Logic is an online community management software. It creates a place where customers interact with each other. It helps in building brand loyalty and creates a peer-to-peer support environment. Higher Logic's platform ... Read more

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Disciple is where communities thrive. The platform helps people build independent, valuable and trusted communities in a safe space that they own and control. Disciple offers the best features of social platforms like groups,... Read more

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Vanilla is a cloud-based community management solution for consumer goods, financial services, gaming, media and publishing and technology. The solution helps organizations engage members, create discussion forums and gather ideas... Read more

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Tribe FrontRunners 2021

Tribe is a cloud-based community platform designed for enterprise-grade customer communities. Key elements include complete customization, embeddable widgets, modern design, comprehensive API, gamification, analytics, powerful mod... Read more

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Hivebrite FrontRunners 2021

Hivebrite is a cloud-based online community management platform for incubators, businesses, schools, and nonprofits including institutions with limited resources. It helps organizations build brand engagements and opportunities fo... Read more

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Zapnito is a cloud-based community management solution, which assists small to large organizations with user profile and content management. Key features include video creation, peer-to-peer learning, custom branding, engagement m... Read more

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Localist is a cloud-based event planning solution designed to help businesses manage processes related to event marketing, communication, and employee/student engagement. Key features include content management, form creation, ema... Read more

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Glue Up FrontRunners 2021

Glue Up (Formerly EventBank) is a cloud-based engagement management platform for nonprofit organizations. Glue Up integrates event management, membership management, customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing, payment... Read more

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AnswerHub is an online developer community solution available for deployment either in the cloud or on-premise. It is suitable for midsize businesses to large enterprises across various industries. AnswerHub enables team coll... Read more

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Mighty Networks FrontRunners 2021

Mighty Networks is a cloud-based social networking platform designed to help marketing teams create targeted landing pages, track leads and connect with clients on a centralized dashboard. It enables members to gain information ab... Read more

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ONEsite is a community management solution that offers document management, drag-and-drop layout creation, community groups, gamification and reporting. The solution is able to manage health care, consumer goods, education and bet... Read more

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Amplify your sales, recruitment, branding and overall online presence by actively involving the most valuable marketing resource you have: Your employees, partners and anyone else who's willing to vouch for you. Gather insightful ... Read more


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Honeycommb FrontRunners 2021

Honeycommb is a social networking solution that helps businesses engage with customers and manage brand visibility across multiple websites. Features include advertising management, a media library, communication management, autom... Read more

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Almabase FrontRunners 2021

Almabase is an alumni management solution that helps education institutions streamline alumni engagement, community management and fundraising operations. It allows organizations to conduct virtual and in-person events, communicat... Read more

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NanoNotion is an Azure SaaS application for which a Microsoft office 365 or Azure account is needed. The software allows employees to share ideas and knowledge with others. Additionally, the platform helps managers identify the in... Read more


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CitizenLab is a community engagement platform used by local governments & organizations to connect with community members, engage them in decision-making, and build trust through dialogue. Community members can post, discuss, and... Read more


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inSided is a cloud-based community platform that is designed to improve client support and conversion rates. People have many questions in their mind before buying a product and they look for answers online. inSided lets you creat... Read more


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Jostle is a cloud-based collaboration and social networking solution that helps businesses share news, align teams, invite participants, and recognize contributions. The platform allows employees to discuss topics and share their ... Read more

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ToucanTech FrontRunners 2021

Grow your alumni community with ToucanTech, a cloud-based software. It is designed for businesses, universities and schools. It is an all-in-one community software that saves both your time and cost. With secured protocols an... Read more

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Buyers guide

Last Updated: May 7, 2021

Online communities provide a platform for individuals to connect around a shared interest, goal or activity. Users form a network, develop relationships and collaborate by sharing information and engaging with content.

Community software helps businesses build and develop these forums, cultivate followers and maintain memberships. These tools automate administrative processes and provide businesses with actionable data on metrics and trends such as site activity and user engagement.

There are a variety of solutions on the market designed to serve every type of business need, including brand building, customer support and many more.

We’ve created this guide to help you better understand the community software market so you can select the right tool for your organization. Whether you’re looking to invest in community software for the first time or looking to replace your current system, this guide can help you make a more informed purchase decision.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Community Software?
Key Features of Community Software
Types of Community Software
Key Considerations for Community Software Buyers

What Is Community Software?

Businesses and associations build online communities to achieve several goals:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Grow their customer base
  • Support customers throughout the entire customer life cycle (i.e., considering, purchasing, using, maintaining and/or replacing a product or service)
  • Provide a forum for discussion/feedback regarding products and/or services

Of course, first and foremost, communities should provide value to the end user.

Community software solutions help businesses build, launch, manage and measure the effectiveness of their online communities so as to strive for continuous improvement, i.e., provide the most value to the customer.

Example forum report using Socious online community software
Example forum report using Socious online community software

Key Features of Community Software

Look for the following community software capabilities as you compare solutions:

Member management Enable users to create profiles, join groups and/or chapters. Often includes search functionality or a directory. Can include membership dues management (works with merchant account platforms) to manage paid memberships.
Content management Create web content and track how users interact with different types of content. Can include process documentation, wikis, articles and more. Set up online and emailed content alerts for when content is added or updated.
Forums and discussion boards Facilitate communication and collaboration among users, allowing them to follow threads, share ideas, post questions and respond to inquires. Includes features such as @ mentions, the ability to like and/or share posts, insert emojis, add tags and other classifications to posts and archive discussions. Often includes the ability to send private messages as well.
Blog creation and management Set up blogs for your business, employees or individual members. Allow users to create and share content, organize content using tags and other classifications and subscribe to blogs. Includes security settings, user permissions and the ability to turn commenting on or off.
Gamification/crowdsourcing Increase user engagement in your community with tools such as gamification, contests, surveys and/or polls. Invite users to post scores on their profile or share to their social networks.
Media libraries Upload and store files in a centralized, searchable location. Features often include customizable user permissions, share settings and the ability to turn on/off commenting. Enlist users in library maintenance by allowing them to tag out of date files, broken links etc.
Event management Showcase events and conferences and work with your partners to cultivate sponsorships and your customers to build out your attendees. Features include online registration, agenda/calendar building and payment management.
Reporting and analytics Includes dashboards and reports for several metrics, including member activity, site interactions, content shares and many more. Schedule one-off or recurring reports, view data in various graphical displays and export data to Excel. Create custom reports to track trends unique to your business or industry.

Types of Community Software:

Community software can create and manage several types of communities. These can generally be grouped as follows:

Internal business tools. This includes communities designed to facilitate collaboration among employees and crowdsource ideas to solve internal business issues. They can also act as an internal knowledge center where employees can access reference material, join relevant groups and search for important business documentation and processes. Can also include professional development and training.

Capabilities might include:

  • Employee directory
  • Wikis
  • Talent referral
  • Opinion surveys and polls

Business-to-consumer (B2C). This includes a variety of communities designed to help businesses engage with current and prospective clients, most often centered around business development/sales, customer relationship management, support and training. Can also host reviews of products and services. Non-profit and professional development associations can also use this software to engage with members or users rather than customers.

Capabilities likely include:

  • Branded blog, news, and/or social network
  • Forums and discussion boards
  • Content and media library
  • Group/chapter management
  • Event management

Business-to-business (B2B).

B2B communities enable businesses to interact with other organizations in their industry, most often through partner programs and industry and awareness brand marketing. This resource can be helpful when highlighting new programs, product releases and updates as well as when creating and/or responding to RFPs.

Capabilities often include:

  • Business profiles
  • Product/service videos
  • Document sharing
  • Event management/sponsorship tools

Consumer-to-consumer. This category includes communities built by consumers to serve and engage with other consumers, such as interest-based communities (e.g., sports, video games, city/geographical involvement etc.), professional development associations and product/service reviews forums.

Capabilities might include:

  • Member profiles
  • Group/chapter management
  • Forums and discussion boards
  • Private messaging
  • Content management

Additionally, it’s possible (and likely) for a hybrid community to exist within any of these categories. An example of this is when customers interact with each other and the business joins in on the discussion.

Each community will require member management and offer some degree of reporting/analytics for administrative members. As the primary goal for these systems is to provide value to end users, it’s important to chose a solution with reporting functionality that supports your business and industry requirements.

Key Considerations for Community Software Buyers

Keep the following purchase considerations in mind as you compare solutions:

Open-source community software. There are several open-source solutions on the market that can help you get an online community set up with lower upfront costs than you’d have with a paid solution.

However, you will require an IT staff to host and maintain the system, which means, as one vendor states on their website “you break it, you fix it.” You also have limited support, training and customer service options with open source tools, so consider the needs of both your administrative and end users before choosing this option.

Integration with existing business software. Integration allows for seamless data transfer between applications, which is a chief concern when using disparate systems. Look for tools that integrate with your existing business applications (e.g., your CRM, marketing, help desk and social media accounts) to save time and reduce duplicate data entry.

Actionable insights/reporting. The key with reporting is to gain actionable insights. Your community software should help you strive for continuous improvement so as to provide the most value to your end user, so you should supplement your reporting strategy with feedback loops. Additionally, look for trends that allow you to enhance and tailor the user experience to each member group, which can lead to increased and prolonged membership.



Your Guide to Top Community Software, February 2021

Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Community Software products in North America.

Learn how products are chosen

Explore FrontRunners

“Usability” includes user ratings for Functionality and Ease of Use.“Customer Satisfaction” includes user ratings for Customer Support, Likelihood to Recommend and Value for Money.Reviews analysis period: The reviews analysis period spans two years and ends on the 15th of the month prior to publication.