Circle is a great tool for building an online community. But if you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking for a few more options besides Circle. In that case, you’ve come to the right place!
With many online community-building apps available, choosing the right one for you can get confusing and pricey. But lucky for you, I’ve bought and tried Circle and a number of its alternatives, so you don’t have to!
In this article, I will briefly discuss Circle, its pros, cons, features, and a few solid Circle.so alternatives.
But first, full transparency: I may get some commission if you follow some of the links in this article (at zero cost to you!). These companies did not pay me to write this review, I used the platforms myself, and I support them regardless.
Table of Content
- Circle.so Overview
- Judgment Criteria
- Alternative #1: Mighty Networks
- Alternative #2: Disciple Media
- Alternative #3: Tribe
Circle is a community platform for content producers who want to bring their audience together around their work, engage them in conversation, and eventually convert them into paying subscribers. Members can communicate with one another through direct messaging in addition to conversations.
Creators have the opportunity to establish several kinds of online communities with Circle. These consist of coaching, membership, course, and product communities. Additionally, the platform supports communities for newsletters and podcasts, paywalls for monetization, events, live broadcasts, and other features. You can even incorporate Circle into your currently-existing websites and other online infrastructure.
To learn more about my personal experiences with the platform, head over to my in-depth Circle.so review!
- Custom domains and white-label customizations for your brand
- Easy log-in with SSO.
- Connect with community members with live streams, events, and private/group chats
- Searchable member database for your community
- Track daily/monthly member and engagement analytics
- Onboarding with access to the private Circle community for creators
- Multiple monetization options with subscriptions, paywalls, Stripe payment, etc.
Circle provides a 14-day free trial period if you simply wish to try it out. Since there are no free plans, you must pay to access Circle at the end of the trial period.
- Basic Plan: At $39 per month, this plan provides you with everything you need to get started with your community. Besides 10 Spaces and 1,000 active members per month, you get custom domains, in-app notifications, member profiles, a directory, and connectivity with Zapier.
- Enterprise Plan: At $199 a month, this plan offers up to 100,000 monthly active members and 1,000 Spaces. Additionally, you get three communities, custom SSO via OAuth, a dedicated account manager, email white labeling, and priority support.
- Clean, intuitive interface.
- Option to set up custom SSO.
- Host several forms of content, including video, posts, images, and audio.
- Allows for 3000+ integrations through Zapier.
- Analytics reports on community performance.
- Paywalls to conveniently monetize parts (or all of) your community.
- No free version.
- Multiple communities are only available for Enterprise Plan.
- Only available for web and iOS
Circle does a lot right, but it still lacks a few advanced features that its competitors offer. Before discussing the alternatives, let’s look at the judging criteria for these platforms.
The first thing to check when choosing software for an online community is whether it offers you the right tools to start engaging and expanding your community. To help you select which of these alternatives is ideal for you, we’ll discuss topics including courses, member participation, and live streaming.
Community building apps and platforms vary greatly in terms of pricing. While some offer free versions and freemium options, others charge premium prices for custom mobile apps and add-ons. While considering the alternatives to Circle, we’ll look closely at the pricing structure.
Hosting an online course is one of the best ways to monetize an online community. While most of these platforms inherently support courses, some integrate with external platforms to support course hosting.
Good community-building tools should make it easy to switch things around to suit your specific needs. Thus, we’ll thus be looking at the customization options they provide to judge the best alternative to Circle.
Live events are integral to the community-building process, allowing you to address and interact with all your members at once. Some platforms we’re discussing today make it easy to set up, collect RSVPs, and host live events with multiple co-hosts. So event hosting is also a focus.
A strong community platform is more than just a place to put your logo. It should also provide you with the means to deliver an engaging brand experience to your members. Therefore, we will also judge the platforms based on the branding flexibilities they provide.
Apps and Access
Lastly, we’ll be considering the accessibility of all these platforms. The platform you use should provide an easy transition from the web to mobile so that your members can always stay connected with the community.
Best Circle.so Alternatives #1: Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is a platform for collaboratively developing community-branded mobile apps, online communities, and business websites. Users can create membership websites to provide members with paid online courses, paid groups, and more.
Mighty Network specifically caters to creative and business owners by combining their network, online courses, sales sites, and other resources under the user’s branding. You can link your members through chats, subgroups, categories, or activity feeds.
Mighty Networks also enables you to post engaging questions and surveys, embed videos, photos, and sound files, and write articles with a powerful CMS that supports comments. Moreover, Mighty Networks is accessible through the web, iOS, and Android apps.
- Member access/permissions control
- Activity dashboard and tracking
- Built-in course authoring & publishing
- Chat/Messaging and collaboration tools
- Committee and communications management
- Content management and built-in content library
- Customizable branding with multiple templates
- Electronic payments and dues Management
- Real-time analytics for engagement tracking
- Member directory & database
Mighty Networks offers three subscription plans:
- The Community Plan: This plan starts from $33/month. It gives unlimited room for Members and Hosts, community access across the web and mobile apps, native live streaming and messaging, events, and Zoom integration.
- Business Plan: For $99 per month, you get additional options to add online and live cohort course creation, comprehensive analytics, member data, and several Zapier workflows and APIs.
- Mighty Pro: Besides the previous two, there’s also a customizable enterprise plan option. This package gives you additional options to get your App, branded app notifications, account management support, and more.
- Quickly create posts, polls, articles, and events
- Multiple features to support authoring and hosting online courses
- Clean, modern interface out of the box
- Members get to personalize notifications
- Native app support for iOS and Android
- Options to monetize access to community & courses
- Slack integration for community administration
- No native support for regular/live video
- Limited options for designing landing pages
- Course builder lacks in-built quizzing and certification features
- No SSO integration with other course platforms
- Transaction fees apply to all pricing tiers
- Incompatible with PayPal
Best Circle.so Alternatives #2: Disciple Media
Disciple is built for communities by creators, company owners, corporations, non-profits, influencers, and small businesses alike. With Disciple, you can create independent and engaging communities in a secure setting that you manage and own.
You can use this community platform to segment your audience using different groups, upload material and videos, Livestream, market online courses and subscriptions, and use analytics to learn more about your community. Your subscribers can make profiles they can use to find, friend, and contact one another. Moreover, Disciple is available on the web, iOS, and Android.
- Advertising Management
- Communication and Community Management
- Customizable Branding
- Data Security
- Groups and Feedback Management
- Event Management
- Analytics and Reporting
Disciple costs $55 per month for the web version. This plan includes branding & customization, unlimited groups and topics, events, subscriptions, etc.
The Mobile App will cost you $549 per month for all features of the Web Plan, as well as in-app purchases, live streaming, a dedicated community success manager, and priority customer support.
While you can try out Disciple for free for 7-days, accessing the platform’s full potential will result in additional charges. Adding an admin would cost you $29 extra per month, and removing the Disciple branding costs $108/month. The Mobile Community will also cost you an extra $458/month.
- Easily create and arrange folders
- Videos and hands-on engagement
- Step-by-step instructions for process outside of Disciple
- No-code app development
- Monetization with in-app purchases, affiliate links, advertising, etc.
- White-label customizations
- Relatively new CMS lacks shortcuts
- Premium features are only available for mobile app
- Expensive subscription plans
- Steep additional charges for add-on services
Best Circle.so Alternatives #3: Tribe
Tribe is a cloud-based, fully customizable community platform. Developed with an emphasis on social media best practices, Tribe helps you launch a branded online community for your business. The platform primarily caters to enterprise-level customer communities.
With Tribe, you can set up public or private communities, and allow members to ask questions, create user posts, comment, participate in polls, upload videos, etc. You can also integrate the platform into a product or website.
Furthermore, Tribe comes with a comprehensive API, embeddable widgets, Google Analytics support, and integration with third-party apps to improve the community’s functionality.
Tribe offers a 14-day Premium free trial with no credit card requirements. Besides that, the platform has four subscription plans:
- The Basic Plan for $0/month
- The Plus Plan for $59/month
- The Premium Plan for $239/month
- A customizable Enterprise Plan
For annual subscriptions, Tribe offers more affordable pricing, charging $49/month for the Plus plan and $199/month for the Premium Plan. You can get unlimited spaces, theme customizations, and custom domains for the free Basic Plan. But more advanced features like analytics, API access, SSO, white-label, etc., are only available with the paid plans.
- Customizable white-label customer community
- Basic features are accessible for free
- Native white-label mobile apps for brands
- Customizable domains and themes
- Limited community features with a lack of location or interest-based connectivity
- Mobile apps are only supported for premium plans
- No online course support
|Criteria||Circle.so||Mighty Networks||Disciple Media||Tribe|
|Pricing||Starts from $39/month||Starts from $33/month||Starts from $55/month||Starts with a free Basic Plan|
|Monetization||Paid memberships, Paywalls, subscriptions, upsells, coupons & discounts||Paid memberships, courses, events||Paid memberships, Subscriptions, in-App purchases, paid app download, Apple/Google Pay, sponsorship /advertising, affiliates, store links||Subscriptions, PayPal/Stripe payment, Advertising, Paid Memberships|
|Domain/Website||Custom domains||Unique domain and website||Custom Domains||Custom Domains|
|Events||Live events with multiple co-hosts, RSVP collection, webinar scheduling, etc.||Event features are available only for Community Plan and above||No-code customizable event app||Live streaming, embeddable videos, webinars|
|Analytics||Member & Engagement Analytics||Detailed Member Analytics||Member & Engagement Analytics||Google analytics integration|
|App/Platform||Web and iOS||Web, iOS, Android||Web, iOS, Android||Web, app (only for premium plans)|
|Demo/Trial||14-day free trial||Demo, 14-day free trial||7-day free trial||14-day free trial for Premium Plan|
|Standout Feature||SSO, Onboarding, Member Directory||Course authoring and publishing, real-time analytics||Premium branded app, no-code, highly customizable||Free custom domains, and unlimited spaces, Google Analytics support|
Each of the platforms we discussed has its unique strengths and weaknesses. And at the end of the day, which one suits your needs will come down to your budget and the type of community you’re trying to build.
Mighty Networks might be your best bet if you’re primarily building a community for online courses. Again, if you want a branded mobile community with no-code native apps, Disciple would be worth a try. But if you’re just building a community, getting started with the free tools from Tribe would be best for you. Lastly, if you’re looking to network and learn from a community of creators, all while getting introduced to a community-building platform, I recommend sticking to Circle
P.S: If you want to join my own online community, consider connecting with me on Twitter. I write about everything from growth marketing to startups and share my views on the latest software. And if you’re looking to learn about actionable growth marketing from real marketers, check out my podcast (which already has 72 episodes!)