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.

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Higher Logic FrontRunners 2020

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 is for... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Happeo

Happeo is an intranet software focused on improving internal communications. It integrates exclusively with G Suite and provides users with content management capabilities, employee engagement analytics, permission management and the... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Disciple

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, live-streaming... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Vanilla FrontRunners 2020

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

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Hivebrite

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 for... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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ONEsite

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 betting... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Insightrix Communities

Insightrix Communities is a cloud-based online research community platform designed for government agencies, corporate researchers and research units. It helps organizations in both qualitative and quantitative research by collecting... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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QuestionPro Communities

QuestionPro Communities is a cloud-based community management solution that offers customer-panel management, discussion forums, surveys, polls, live chat, feedback management and customer intelligence functionalities within a suite.... Read more

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Quip

Quip is a project management and community collaboration tool that help users work together and communicate without emails. Users can create and edit spreadsheets, documents and checklists in the system, and team members can chat and... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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AnswerHub

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 collaboration... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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NanoNotion

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 intellectual... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Jostle

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 ideas... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Tribe FrontRunners 2020

Tribe is a cloud-based community platform solution designed for online communities of all sizes. Key elements include complete customization, embeddable widgets, modern design, comprehensive API, gamification, analytics, powerful moderation... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Vaave

Vaave is a cloud-based alumni engagement software that helps schools, colleges and corporations build alumni database and plan reunions. Its key features include fundraising, mentorship, employer branding and talent acquisition. The... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Unily

Unily is an employee experience platform that unites enterprises by powering better work for everyone through improved productivity, collaboration and engagement. This cloud-based platform provides meaningful digital experiences to... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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inSided

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 create... Read more

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Flock FrontRunners 2020

Flock is a cloud-based tool that facilitates team communication. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes across a variety of industries and offers video and audio calling, screen sharing, text chat, integration with other business... Read more

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ToucanTech

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 and servers,... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Centercode

Centercode is a cloud-based customer validation solution that helps businesses manage processes for capturing client feedback using alpha, beta and delta tests. Key features include product reviews, content management, discussions/forums,... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Engagement Communities

Engagement Communities by MissionBox is a web-based stakeholder engagement solution that provides users with the tools to manage online communication, collaboration, and training. Designed specifically for nonprofits, the platform... Read more

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Zapnito

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 metrics... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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OnSemble FrontRunners 2020

OnSemble is more than an employee intranet that keeps everyone connected – it's a digital workplace that makes employees feel valued. OnSemble is a modern intranet that keeps remote teams engaged and acts as the culture champion... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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CMNTY Platform

CMNTY Platform is a highly intuitive online platform used by marketers and insights professionals for project-based market research and continuous insights communities. CMNTY's platform and services include panel recruitment, qualitative... Read more

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Bisner

Bisner is a meeting room booking solution that can be used on any device including desktops, phones, or room displays. Bisner is designed to increase meeting productivity in the workplace while making efficient use of office resources.... Read more

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Mobilize FrontRunners 2020

Mobilize is a cloud-based community management solution for organizations looking to contact, manage and engage members from a single platform. The solutions come with key features that include group messaging, contact management,... Read more

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Deployments: Cloud
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Crowdlink Mobile Event App

Connect Space is an event management platform that streamlines the process. Crowdlink is a mobile event application by Connect Space,which is designed for state associations and work groups of 2 or more members. Both Android and iOS... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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VeryConnect

VeryConnect is a cloud-based membership management solution that provides services such as member data collection, subscription and payment management, email campaigns and event creation. It is suitable for membership organizations... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Zoho Connect FrontRunners 2020

Zoho Connect is a cloud-based project collaboration tool designed for businesses of all sizes across various industries. It allows users to build an enterprise social network so that colleagues can collaborate and connect on projects. Zoho... Read more

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ZendeskFrontRunners 2020

Zendesk is a cloud-based help desk management solution offering customizable tools to build customer service portal, knowledge base and online communities. The solution offers a customizable front-end portal, live chat features and... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Workplace from FacebookFrontRunners 2020

Workplace is a communication tool that connects everyone, whether they’re behind a desk, in front of customers, or working from home. Share important updates with teams, regions, or companies in official Groups. Send instant messages... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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YammerFrontRunners 2020

Yammer is a private cloud-based social network that enables employees to collaborate across departments, locations, content and business applications. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes. Yammer is available either as a standalone... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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GiveGab

GiveGab is a cloud-based giving management solution designed for small and midsize nonprofits. It offers campaign and event management, contact management, donor management, peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding management functionalities... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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AdvocateHubFrontRunners 2020

AdvocateHub is an engagement and advocacy software that helps organizations manage a group of "on-demand" advocates. AdvocateHub’s features include engagement of advocates with targets and interactive challenges, exclusivity, recognition... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Yotpo

Yotpo is a cloud-based customer content marketing platform for e-commerce businesses of all sizes. The solution enables users to collect every type of user-generated content and use it to build brand and manage customer experience. Yotpo’s... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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MangoAppsFrontRunners 2020

MangoApps offers digital workplace solutions that combine intranet, collaboration, messaging, learning and 50+ built-in integrations. With an employee platform at its core, MangoApps is suitable for midsize to large organizations in... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Fonteva for AssociationsFrontRunners 2020

Fonteva For Associations is an association management solution built on the Salesforce platform. This system captures and tracks all member data on a single screen to for association managers. Its core applications include accounting,... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Salesforce Community CloudFrontRunners 2020

Salesforce Community Cloud is a cloud-based enterprise community platform that enables employees, partners and customers to connect at a single location. It allows users to collaborate and share their ideas and content with each other. Salesforce... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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SocialEngine PHPFrontRunners 2020

SocialEngine PHP is a community management platform designed to help businesses build custom social network websites with personalized domain names. The application offers a content management system (CMS), which allows administrators... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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JiveFrontRunners 2020

Jive Interactive Intranet is a cornerstone of the modern digital workplace, a central hub for internal communications, employee collaboration, organizational knowledge, documents and more. Many leading companies worldwide rely on Jive... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Raklet

Raklet is a cloud-based club and event management solution that provides an integrated workflow for maintaining a contact database, collecting payments, organizing events and automating email and SMS communication. Raklet enhances... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Answerbase

Answerbase is a solution for mid-size and enterprise-level companies looking for marketing automation and analytics, customer service and support and social CRM. Customer service and support module allow companies to solve their common... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Khoros Communities

Khoros Communities is a community management platform for large enterprises to host and manage peer-to-peer spaces, enabling customers to post queries, search content, and share experiences. The software facilitates brand development... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Crowded

Crowded is a web-based platform which helps businesses of all sizes with content management and community engagement. Key features include customization, user profiles, targeted search, post scheduling, search engine optimization and... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Forumbee

Forumbee is a cloud-based community and discussion forum-creation platform that supports social sharing, mobile moderation and a knowledge base. It features branding and design, discussion forums, Q&A forums, feedback forums and private... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
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MyTalk

MyTalk is a web SaaS and cloud-based community system which helps businesses create their own community. The community will help in improve client experience, convert potential customers and minimize support costs. Customers who are... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Memeni

Memeni is a cloud-based community engagement solution for businesses of all sizes. It enables businesses to launch their own branded mobile app and web community. Key features include content marketing, promotion campaigns, gamification... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Crowdtech

Crowdtech offers a suite of research tools that enable organizations to capture customer insights through polls, surveys, chats, bulletin boards and more. The platform lets organizations create in-house search panels and add pre-qualified... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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AnswerCart

AnswerCart is a cloud-based community and forum management solution that caters to small and midsize businesses across industries such as education, finance, tech and more. Key features include discussion forums, a built-in media editor,... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Packback

Packback is a cloud-based platform designed to help educational institutions improve student engagement through online communities and discussion threads. Teaching assistants (TAs) can use the Feed IQ functionality to sort, retrieve,... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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ProBoards

ProBoards is a cloud-based community solution designed to help communities and customer service organizations create and manage forums, boards, discussions posts, file attachments, and more on a centralized platform. Administrators... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Buyers guide

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.

 

FrontRunners

Your Guide to Top Community Software, May 2020

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

Learn how products are chosen

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Software Advice
“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.