10 Community Platforms to Rally Your Social Enterprise Audience

by

Together
Together

In today’s society, people are looking for connections. Not exactly the kind of connection granted to us by internet access. People are searching high and low to create personal connections that feel like a community. Everyone wants to engage with the things they like, and do it alongside others who feel similarly.

Community platforms give your audience a place to gather. It’s like the water cooler sessions way back in corporate America, or the local community center people visit weekly. Since they can gather, they are able to share ideas and check in with each other. On top of that, they can organize themselves better to support causes like your social enterprise.

Originally, you may come across a lot of information that encourages you to build your email list. Still do that of course. Email lists give you direct access to an audience that wants to hear what you have to say. What you should notice is that people on your email list don’t have a clear way to connect with each other, or even to connect with you in some cases. Despite how powerful email lists can be, you can still create room for an interactive and collaborative experience through a community platform.

Top Reasons to Launch a Community for Your Social Impact Audience

There are a few reasons why your social enterprise would benefit from a community platform. You can engage your audience on a platform like this to improve: brand reputation, research, marketing, talent acquisition, fundraising/ sales, and product development.

Brand Reputation

Your audience gets to understand you on what feels like a personal level. They can appreciate when you check in and they can share what they’re thinking lately. This starts to increase the rapport you have with your audience members individually and as a group. Soon enough, your community will have inside jokes and celebrate anniversaries.

Research

Do you ever wonder what your audience thinks? Probably always. On a community platform, you have a few ways you can monitor what’s going on inside their heads.

You can ask direct questions, read public conversations, or even send out a poll to conduct research for your initiative. It’s your chance to speak with your most engaged audience members who support your social enterprise. Knowing what they like means you can possibly recreate the content and campaigns that attract more people like them.

Marketing

Marketing is a 24/7 type of job. There is always a reason to share or promote what you are doing. You get to share your latest projects and campaigns with your ideal audience if everyone is gathered in your community. An added benefit is that your audience members are your biggest advocates.

After spending time with each other on the community platform, it wouldn’t be surprising for people in the community to share their experience with others. Not only that, but they’re likely to share about your events or projects as well.

Talent Acquisition

Almost every industry is having trouble finding and keeping talent. It’s understandable. There are high turnover rates, and no one is ever quite sure they’re hiring talent that fits what they need. There may be one or two people who join your community that can fit the skills and experience for upcoming roles at your social enterprise. Better than that, the people in your community most likely fit the company culture already (which can be a huge factor for talent retention).

Fundraising / Sales

Similar to an email list, using a community platform means you can make direct and consistent offers to your ideal audience. You’ll have an audience you can launch a fundraising campaign with at any time. You’ll always have access to an audience waiting for discounts, upsells, or special events. This also benefits your audience since they get those discounts or early sales.

Product development

If you need to start on a new product or alter an existing product, you’ll need feedback. You’ll need a group of people to test your MVP (minimal viable product) and give their opinions. Imagine how easy it could be to recruit product testers from the community platform. A quick post on the community bulletin board or public feed could call for volunteers, and you end up with enough feedback to make the next move in your project.

Which Community Platform Should You Use?

There are a variety of digital spaces you can explore. Still, you want to choose something based on your community size, how frequently you’ll contact your community, what special features you may want, and the structure of the community (ex. subscription style or group chat style).

Here are community platforms you can explore for your audience. Please keep in mind that community features and plans are based on what is listed at the time of writing this article. Also keep in mind that “no free plan” may mean a free trial is available, but there is not a plan that’s considered “free.”

1. PeerBoard

A community platform to create an ecosystem between your audience and your brand.

  • Features: Social Sharing, Custom Domain, Service Marketplace, Shopify Integration, WordPress Plugin, and more.
  • Free plan available

2. Circle

The all-in-one community platform for creators & brands.

  • Features: Discussion Spaces, Group Chat, Private Messaging, Paid Memberships, Custom Domain, Service Marketplace, Apple / Android App
  • No free plan.

3. Mighty Networks

A community platform suitable for online courses and memberships.

  • Features: Courses (sell in bundles or individually), Welcome Checklist, Events, Unlimited Members, Direct Messaging, and more.
  • No free plan

4. Thinkific

A course-based community platform to educate your audience.

  • Features: Discussion Spaces, Learner Profiles, Live Lessons, Certificates, and more.
  • Free plan available

5. Hivebrite

A community platform that allows initiatives to manage branding, content, and analytics.

  • Features: User Profiles, Events, Forums, Job Board, and more.
  • Request demo

6. Tribe

A community platform geared more towards customer care and allows integration from other apps like Discord or Slack.

  • Features: Public or Private Access, Spaces, Social Sharing, Explore Page, and more.
  • No free plan

7. Disciple

A community platform providing a more premium experience.

  • Features: Branded App (iOS and Android), Direct Messaging, Unlimited Groups, Member Moderation, and more.
  • No free plan

8. Patreon

A community platform that becomes home for your most passionate fans.

  • Features: Unlimited Membership Tiers, App Integration (ex. Discord, Crowdcast, Vimeo), Patron Support, Special Offer Campaigns, and more.
  • Free to get started (a small fee taken from what you earn)

9. Panion

A community platform focused on gathering people for social impact.

  • Features: Community Message Board, Event Management, Member Network Matchmaking, and more.
  • No free plan

10. Luma

A community platform made to build rapport with an audience.

  • Features: Newsletter, Events, Feedback/ Reviews, Store, Donations, and more.
  • Free plan available
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