Developing an online community is a smart decision if you want to bolster the popularity of your brand, ensure that your movement or cause reaches the largest possible audience or you have something to teach. The good news is that there are now more online community platforms available than ever before, including Buddyboss.
Buddyboss is an open source platform designed to answer the call of online community builders and managers that has enjoyed significant exposure and popularity over the past few years. But just because Buddyboss is popular doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best option for building your online community. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through 7 alternatives to Buddyboss so that you can make an informed decision for your unique community.
What is Buddyboss?
Before we get into Buddyboss alternatives let’s take a closer look at Buddyboss for those who may not be familiar with the software. Buddyboss began life as BuddyPress back in 2011. Right from the start it was a plugin that enabled you to turn a standard WordPress site into an interactive online community, at least in theory.
It took a while to work the bugs out, but eventually, the WordPress experts behind the software hit their stride and the popularity of Buddyboss took off. There are a lot of reasons why people choose Buddyboss as well as reasons why people take a pass on it. Let’s look at the software from both sides now.
Buddyboss’ best features
Buddyboss’ entire reason for being is to enable community builders and managers to create a reliable, versatile community section of their WordPress website, where like-minded individuals can come together to learn, share their passion for a brand or advance a cause or movement. And by all accounts, Buddyboss does a pretty good job at that.
Buddyboss strengths revolve around its ability to work seamlessly with 3rd party software, the fact that it provides a framework for monetization and the ability of community managers to customize the look and feel of their community platform to better appeal to their specific demographic. Buddyboss also allows you to create your own branded native mobile app, but this vital feature is an add-on.
Where does Buddyboss fall short?
While simple and effective monetization and customization sound great (because they are) there’s a downside to Buddyboss that can’t be ignored. First, unlike many WP plugins, Buddyboss isn’t free. And the more you want to do with it the more you’re going to pay.
In addition, if you’re not a WordPress expert you will probably find getting Buddyboss to do what you want a significant challenge. And attempting to integrate dynamically served content is known to be problematic.
Developing online learning and courses for your website
For the reasons given above if your goal is to develop an online learning business Buddyboss is not necessarily your best choice. If you’re to win over and keep your customers/students you need to offer them an online experience that’s simple, reliable and affordable. But with Buddyboss you may encounter problems delivering content, and passing on the costs of the plugin to your students might put your courses financially out of reach for some.
Creating a social network style website for your business/community
Many people are drawn to Buddyboss in the hopes that they can use it to create a Facebook-like social network/community with it. If their goals are limited, their budget open-ended and they have a high degree of technical savvy it is possible to create a reasonable facsimile of a social network using Buddyboss.
On the other hand, if the community builder and their team are not particularly adept at coding, are working with a limited budget and want a social media website that will scale easily with their ambitious growth agenda, they are likely to be disappointed with Buddyboss.
Because of this, we have put together a list of Buddyboss alternatives that in our estimation are easier to work with, feature-rich and will scale with you as your community grows.
List of alternative Buddyboss solutions
Disciple Media have created a lot of buzz lately as more and more community managers learn about this versatile and cost-effective social network platform. A community built using Disciple’s online community software is one that is easily scalable, thoroughly reliable and highly customizable while also providing total control over user data and offering a wealth of monetization options.
Disciple community software is feature-rich and designed to enable your plans, not hold them for ransom. Those features include:
- Unlimited live streams
- In-app purchases and a range of subscription models
- Embedded video
- Live chat
- Push notifications
- Personal messaging
- Robust content moderation tools
- White label mobile app
With Disciple, the only limits on your new online community will be those you impose. No matter how lofty your goals you can be certain Disciple online community software will answer the call and empower your vision. Best of all you own, manage and control every aspect of your online community.
Disciple Media Pros
- Outstanding customer support
- Total control over user data
- A plethora of monetization options
- Rock-solid security
- Customizable user profiles
- State-of-the-art live streaming
- Multi-language support
- Open API
Disciple Media Cons
- No free plan
Disciple offer a free trial of their community software, with the web app starting as low as $46 per month and the white label, cross-platform compatible mobile app at around $300 per month.
2: Bettermode (formerly Tribe.so)
Bettermode started life as Tribe, a community building tool aimed at helping established brands expand their online presence. When Tribe decided to rebrand themselves recently, many thought they would broaden their mission at the same time to make the software more amenable to a wider audience.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Little changed as a result of the rebranding so aspiring instructors, up-and-coming bands and other creatives were still on the outside looking in for the most part. But it’s not all humdrum news when it comes to Bettermode. They were and still are a viable alternative to Buddyboss by virtue of their:
- Built-in gamification
- Versatile community structure
- Social login
- White label capability (extra charge)
- Simple integration of 3rd party apps
- Custom member profiles
- Private messaging, threaded comments, emojis and more
- Multi-language support
The argument for Bettermode today is essentially the same as it was several years ago, which still makes it a viable Buddyboss alternative.
- Quick launch capability
- Extensive knowledge base
- Community segmentation
- Unlimited community members
- Reputation scores
- Modular apps
- Highly customizable
- No mobile app
- No way to create landing pages
- So-so analytics
Bettermode Advanced Plan starts at £500 per month.
3: Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks are one of the better-known community software solutions and for good reason. The company has gone to great lengths to produce a community platform that’s versatile, empowers creators to be their best and offers an array of features that nearly match those offered by industry leader Disciple. Those features include:
- Live events
- Flexible structure built on the Spaces concept
- Targeted Live Streaming to specific community segments
- Multiple monetization options
- Automated email
- Control over member data
- Unlimited members
If you have an established brand or an extensive fan base or learning community Mighty Networks is a clearly superior alternative to Buddyboss. Things get a little gnarly, however, if you are just starting out in your community building efforts, where scalability becomes a bit awkward.
Mighty Networks Pros
- Establish your online community quickly
- All-in-one platform
- Numerous monetization options
- Good customer support
- Cross platform compatible
- Robust content moderation tools
Mighty Networks Cons
- Not the simplest software to work with
- Navigation is not intuitive
- Pro version is extremely expensive
Mighty Networks work best with mid-sized to large communities and established brands with deep pockets. While the basic Business Plan starts at £99 per month, the Pro Plan runs at more than £30,000 per year.
Circle has garnered a lot of attention for how easy it is to setup and maintain, and we won’t argue with that. Although the platform is relatively new it seems the people behind it did had a clear vision of what they wanted it to be and did the necessary homework to make it so. Features include:
- Rich member profiles
- Group chat
- Direct messaging
- A variety of monetization options
- Community segmentation
Circle is in many ways the polar opposite to Mighty Networks and Bettermode. Whereas those platforms are aimed at large businesses and established brands, Circle is built for those with knowledge to impart and it does a good job of serving that community.
- Unlimited livestreams (not available with Basic Plan)
- Private messaging
- Simple course builder feature
- Easy 3rd party integration
- No mobile app for Android
- No ability to create landing pages
- Good, not great, customer support
People who aspire to build an online learning community do not usually have access to unlimited financing. Therefore, they need a community platform solution that’s budget-friendly. Circle is certainly that with a Basic Plan starting at £39 per month. If you want more features there’s the Pro Plan for £89 per month, the Business Plan for £169 per month and the Enterprise Plan that will set you back £360 per month.
5: Mobiloud.com (Canvas)
Mobiloud are the developers of Canvas, a community platform software solution that transforms existing websites into mobile apps in 2 weeks, give or take. It’s an interesting idea and given that most people today are app-centric, it seems like an idea whose time has come.
While it’s not without its downsides (which we’ll get to in a moment) Canvas has nonetheless caused a significant stir in the online community platform space by offering brands, instructors and creatives some unique advantages, including:
- The ability to launch your mobile app in 2 weeks
- The ability to integrate all website features into the new app
- No need to invest in rebranding efforts
- Excellent customer support throughout the process
- You won’t alienate existing community members
- Potential to reach a much larger audience
Most of the Buddyboss alternatives in this guide offer a mobile app. Canvas is the only one that offers to transform your existing community platform (your website) into a custom mobile app so you can make the transition from the 2010s to the 2020s.
- Your new mobile app will retain all your web branding cues
- There is no waiting list at Mobiloud, just get in touch and get started
- A highly motivated and helpful support system
- Cheaper and faster than developing a mobile app from scratch
- Ability to add custom features by updating your website!
- Branding carryover from website to app is not always seamless
- No videos on the app homepage
- You’ll need to commit to a long-term contract
Buddyboss enables you to turn your WordPress site into a community platform. Canvas allows you to turn that same WordPress site into a cross-platform compatible mobile app. We know which one appeals more to us.
As for pricing the Canvas Startup Plan is available for £170 per month, the Growth Plan for £382 per month and the Custom Plan, well, that will depend on just how custom you want to get.
6: Build on Scenes
Scenes claim to provide everything you need to manage, monetize and moderate a community of any size, and by all accounts, they come pretty close to living up their own hype. This is a professional software platform that is several steps above Buddyboss that enables you to run webinars, process payments, sell digital products and more from either the web, a branded app or both. Features include:
- Unlimited scalability
- Community Shop
- 100% white label branding on the web
- Video rooms
- API and SSO on request
Scenes present an image of being a viable choice for young people intent on building a modest sized community around a cause or a shared passion. In truth, it’s more of a way for an established brand to refine its marketing vision, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
- Highly customizable
- Maintain existing branding cues
- Built in community shop
- Push notifications (app only)
- Live audio/video for events
- Powerful moderation tools
- No course builder
- Less than comprehensive analytics
- Only local currency accepted
Scenes keep their pricing structure close to the vest, which is rarely a good thing. Suffice to say their Basic Plan starts at £99 and things escalate quickly from there.
If you are a course creator looking for ways to expand your customer base you would be remiss if you did not consider Passion. Passion provide a drag-and-drop course builder that’s lightyears ahead of Buddyboss’ rudimentary WordPress-based solutions. With Passion you can:
- Easily integrate videos, images and text
- Offer a library of downloadable resources
- Sync those resources to the user’s smartphone
- Schedule sessions within your app
- Create your own monetization options
If your focus is on expanding your customer base and growing your business a mobile app with an integrated course builder like Passion could be what you’re looking for. At the same time, large businesses or existing brands with a big, established customer base may want to consider something more versatile, like Disciple’s community platform.
- Relative affordability
- Time-saving live preview editor
- A good choice for building a learning community
- Good content moderation tools
- Private messaging
- Community segmentation
- Platform development fees can escalate quickly
- Not great for existing brands
- Limits on the size of your community
- A significant learning curve with some features
- Drip content only available with the most expensive plan
The Basic Plan starts at a fairly modest £79 per month. The Ultimate Plan starts at £239 per month and the cost of the UltimatePlus Plan will depend on exactly which features you want.
Why Disciple is the best alternative
All of the other Buddyboss alternatives bring their own unique advantages to the table, but none provide the all-around versatility you’ll find in the Disciple community platform. Whether your enterprise is well-established or just getting off the ground, Disciple can be used to effectively promote your products, services and business agenda. And as your community grows and its needs continue to evolve, Disciple will be there with you enabling progress, facilitating success.
Buddyboss is not without its upsides but any of the community platform alternatives presented above are likely to be more effective in launching and growing your online community.