In recent years, more and more community software options have emerged, all stating that they’ll help you achieve your community goals. The problem is that they are not all created equal, and making your choice can feel a little overwhelming.
Whether you are just starting to look at community platforms, or you are an existing Hivebrite customer looking for something more, we’ve got you covered. In this guide we will talk you through the pros and cons of Hivebrite and compare eight of their leading competitors. After reading this piece, you’ll feel equipped to make the best decision for your unique community.
First things first, what is a digital community platform?
A digital community platform is a web-based tool that enables organizations and individuals to create and manage online communities.
These platforms provide a space for members to connect, interact, and collaborate around shared interests, goals or affiliations.
A good online community platform will be available on web, Android and iOS. It should include features for community building, such as member profiles, live streaming, private messaging, push notifications, event management and content sharing. A good community platform will be attractive, easy-to-use and customizable.
What is Hivebrite?
Hivebrite is a community platform designed primarily for academic institutions. It offers a range of features and customization options to create and manage online communities effectively.
Hivebrite adopts a building block approach, allowing users to tailor their community’s sign-up process, member profiles, access rights, features, and branding. Additionally, it provides tools for membership and event monetization, as well as a jobs board feature, which is particularly valuable for its target audience of educational institutions.
Pros of Hivebrite
- Customization: Hivebrite’s building block approach allows for easy customization, enabling users to tailor their community experience.
- Membership and event monetization: The platform provides robust tools for generating revenue through membership and events.
- Jobs board: Hivebrite’s jobs board feature is a valuable addition, particularly for academic institutions.
Cons of Hivebrite
- Expensive: Hivebrite is one of the pricier options available in the market, which may pose challenges for some organizations.
- Push notifications don’t work properly: The absence of properly functional push notifications on the Hivebrite platform can hinder community engagement and communication.
- No livestreaming: Hivebrite does not offer livestreaming capabilities, limiting the ability to engage members through live events and broadcasts.
- Clunky user experience: Compared to other platforms, Hivebrite’s behind-the-scenes experience for community hosts can be cumbersome and less user-friendly.
- Best suited for big businesses or educational institutions: Hivebrite is better at building communities for large businesses and universities than it is at providing a way for coaches and creators to launch and nurture an online presence.
- Less than stellar customer service: Because Hivebrite seem focused on attracting and supporting large companies and institutions it can be nigh impossible for a new, modestly-sized brand community to get any love from the customer service department.
These downsides to the Hivebrite platform are pretty significant and could well be deal breakers for your community. So, let’s explore some alternative community platforms to Hivebrite and their key features:
1. Disciple Media
The first Hivebrite competitor worth considering is Disciple Media, which is widely considered to be the market-leader. Disciple offers an extremely intuitive and customizable platform on web, iOS and Android. Their whitelabel product means that you can have your own, fully branded community app up and running within days. It’s quick and easy to set up and you don’t need to be able to code to achieve great results. Disciple has a second-to-none feature set, allowing you to scale your business and generate an income.
The feature-rich Disciple community software is designed to support your plans without restrictions. Disciple touches all the bases and checks all the boxes when it comes to providing features that will enable community leaders to establish, maintain and nurture a vibrant online community. And that’s true whether that community consists of 100 people or 100,000.
Pros of Disciple Media
- Versatility: Disciple offers a highly adaptable community platform that can cater to various community needs.
- Rock solid security and total control over user data: With Disciple, you have full control and ownership of your community’s user data.
- A plethora of monetization options: Disciple offers numerous ways to generate revenue from your community.
- Customizable user profiles: Disciple allows you to personalize user profiles, enhancing the community experience.
- State-of-the-art live streaming: Disciple offers advanced live streaming capabilities for engaging community experiences, something that you just don’t get with Hivebrite.
- Multi-language support: Disciple supports multiple languages, facilitating global community engagement.
- Open API: Disciple offers an open API, enabling integrations with other platforms and systems.
- Outstanding customer support: Disciple provides excellent support to assist you in optimizing your community’s performance.
Cons of Disciple Media
- No free plan: Disciple does not offer a free plan, requiring a subscription for access to its community software. While Disciple offers a free trial, the web app starts at $46 per month, and the white label, cross-platform compatible mobile app starts at around $308 per month.
Bettermode (formerly Tribe) is an online platform specifically designed for businesses aiming to cultivate a community around their product. While Bettermode offers a relatively limited feature set, it compensates by providing a range of useful integrations.
Pros of Bettermode
- Built-in gamification: Bettermode includes built-in gamification features, allowing you to incentivize and reward active members with badges, leaderboard positions, and virtual currency.
- Multilingual support: The Bettermode platform is available in multiple languages and integrates with Google Translate, which can be advantageous for communities that are multilingual in nature.
- Powerful moderation tools: Bettermode provides robust moderation tools, enabling you to maintain a safe and respectful community environment. You can also utilize a keyword blacklist feature.
Cons of Bettermode
- Lack of native mobile app: A major drawback of Bettermode is the absence of a native mobile app. This limits the user experience for members accessing the community from their smartphones and prevents the use of push notifications, potentially hindering community engagement.
- Missing key features: Bettermode lacks essential features for community structuring and organization, such as the ability to create groups or organize content into folders. Additionally, it lacks an events feature and does not offer private messaging between members.
- Heavy reliance on third-party integrations: Instead of relying on built-in features, Bettermode heavily relies on third-party integrations and widgets, which can result in a clunky user experience. It may also necessitate additional subscriptions and associated costs.
- Limited support: Bettermode’s support offerings are relatively limited. Their community functions more as an FAQs page rather than a dedicated support channel involving interactions with their team and other customers.
3. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks stands as a community-building platform that serves as a viable alternative to Circle. It empowers users to create private, white-labeled community apps accessible across web, Android, and iOS.
Pros of Mighty Networks
- Integrated course creation: Mighty Networks caters to course creators by enabling them to build and host their courses directly on the platform, eliminating the need for integrating with additional platforms like Teachable.
- Strong customer support: Mighty Networks provides good support to customers, particularly those who opt for their Mighty Pro option.
Cons of Mighty Networks
- High cost: Mighty Networks comes with a significant price tag. Their white-label option, Mighty Pro, demands a substantial investment of $30,000 per year. Additionally, if you desire a friction-free sign-in experience with Single Sign-On, an extra fee of $7,500 is required. In comparison, Disciple’s Pro tier offers similar or superior features at a significantly lower cost.
- Revenue sharing from in-app purchases: Mighty Networks retains a portion of the earnings from in-app purchases, limiting your ability to keep the full revenue.
- Limited livestreaming capabilities: Livestreaming on Mighty Networks has certain limitations. It imposes restrictions on livestream duration and the number of members who can participate simultaneously.
- Complex user interface: Mighty Networks’ user interface can be overwhelming for new members due to its attempt to incorporate numerous features, potentially leading to confusion.
Circle is a community platform that entered the scene as a Hivebrite competitor in 2020, positioning itself as an “all-in-one community platform for creators and brands.”
Developed by Teachable employees, Circle caters to e-learning online communities and course creators. It provides a space for students to connect and engage with one another. Notably, Circle seamlessly integrates with Teachable, serving as an extension to house your online community if you already utilize Teachable successfully.
From a member’s perspective, Circle’s platform is organized around topics and presents a clean and user-friendly interface.
Pros of Circle
- Clear and minimalistic user interface: Circle offers a visually appealing and straightforward user interface, ensuring ease of navigation for community members.
- Excellent integration capabilities: Circle integrates seamlessly with your existing Teachable online courses, if applicable, allowing for a cohesive experience.
- Supportive community: Circle has its own community, serving as a valuable resource for guidance and support on utilizing the platform.
Cons of Circle
- Lack of white-label app: Circle does not provide a white-label app option, meaning your brand will not gain exposure through placement in app stores.
- Not available on Android: The absence of an Android app excludes a significant portion of potential members from accessing your community.
- Incomplete solution: While Circle offers essential community features, you may still need to invest in additional tools and integrate them. For example, while basic courses can be created within Circle through posts, many users prefer hosting their courses on Teachable for enhanced functionality.
- Limited mobile app functionality for community hosts: Managing your community from the mobile app is not possible, as the host experience is essentially the same as that of regular members. This can pose challenges if you intend to perform administrative tasks on the go.
5. Facebook Groups
You’ve no doubt heard of this one! Since setting up Facebook groups is free, they can serve as a cost-effective way to test the interest in your community.
However, we are witnessing a growing trend of communities moving away from Facebook for compelling reasons. Following recent scandals like Cambridge Analytica, users are increasingly disenchanted with major social media giants, opting for more private social networks. The prevalence of spam, ads, and algorithms on Facebook also makes it an impractical choice for numerous online communities, especially those seeking safe and private spaces for member interaction.
Pros of Facebook Groups
The primary advantage of Facebook groups lies in their zero cost to set up. However, it’s crucial to consider whether this outweighs the following list of drawbacks:
Cons of Facebook Groups
- Facebook/Meta as a toxic brand: Many community members aspire to distance themselves from the platform, and hosting your community on Facebook puts you at risk of losing them. Additionally, there is no option for white-labeling Facebook groups, so your community will always be associated with the Meta brand.
- Limited monetization options: Facebook groups lack built-in features for generating income, limiting your ability to monetize your community.
- Spam and distractions: Facebook is notorious for spam and numerous distractions, which negatively impact community engagement. To ensure your content reaches your own community members, you may need to invest significantly in Facebook ads.
- Privacy and security concerns: Being a public platform, Facebook raises privacy and security issues that can compromise the member experience and require extensive moderation efforts on your part as the host.
- Limited control over member data: If your community is hosted on a Facebook group, Meta will own your members’ data, leaving you with limited control and ownership.
Slack is a widely-used communication tool primarily aimed at connecting remote offices. While it plays a crucial role in many businesses, including ours, you may wonder if Slack can also serve as a platform for hosting your community. Although Slack excels in its intended purpose, it was not specifically designed as a community-building tool. Therefore, if you opt to use Slack as your community’s home, you will likely reach a point where you’ll need to explore other community software options.
Pros of Slack
- Extensive integration possibilities: Slack offers a wide range of excellent integrations, allowing you to seamlessly connect it with your existing tools and workflows.
Cons of Slack
- Limited monetization options: Slack does not provide features for monetizing your community. If monetization is one of your community goals, it would be more beneficial to explore alternative platforms.
- Cost structure based on per user: Slack’s paid plans charge on a per-user basis. Consequently, if you have a large or rapidly growing community, the costs can escalate rapidly and become prohibitively expensive.
Kajabi is a course product that offers a dedicated community feature known as Kajabi Community. This feature operates as a forum, enabling members to initiate discussions on various topics. However, the functionality of this community option is relatively limited. If your intention is to facilitate discussion specifically related to your existing Kajabi courses, it may be worth exploring.
Pros of Kajabi
- Suitable for fostering conversation around your Kajabi courses: If your primary goal is to encourage discussions and engagement centered on your Kajabi courses, the Kajabi Community can serve as a suitable option.
Cons of Kajabi
- Lack of white label app: Kajabi does not provide a white label app option, which restricts the customization and branding possibilities.
- High cost relative to limited functionality: Considering the features offered, Kajabi can be deemed as expensive, especially when compared to its relatively restricted range of functionalities.
Discord, originally established as a group chat platform for gamers, has evolved into a versatile team communication tool.
Pros of Discord
- Voice and video call capabilities: Discord enables users to communicate through voice and video calls, facilitating real-time conversations.
- User-friendly interface: The platform is designed with simplicity in mind, making it straightforward and easy to navigate.
Cons of Discord
- Lack of white label app option: Discord does not offer a white label app option, limiting customization options for branding and personalization.
- Limited integrations beyond gaming: While Discord’s integrations are primarily focused on gaming, it may not be the ideal choice if your community revolves around other topics or industries.
- Limited analytics: Discord’s analytics capabilities are relatively limited, making it challenging to gain comprehensive insights into your community’s behavior and motivations.
In 2023, several alternatives to Hivebrite exist, catering to different community needs and budgets. Each platform offers unique features and capabilities, allowing organizations to select the one that aligns best with their requirements.
While Hivebrite excels in customization and membership/event monetization, its drawbacks, such as high cost and limited engagement features, may prompt some users to explore alternative options.
Disciple Media is the market leader when it comes to customization, usability, security and features. With Disciple, you can effectively generate a sustainable revenue stream and grow your business.
Can I customize the member profiles and branding on Hivebrite?
Yes, Hivebrite offers customization options for member profiles and branding, allowing you to tailor the community experience.
Does Hivebrite support monetization of events?
Yes, Hivebrite provides robust tools for monetizing events, enabling organizations to generate revenue.
Is Hivebrite suitable for professional and educational communities?
While Hivebrite primarily caters to academic institutions, it can be used for various types of communities. However, other platforms like Disciple Media may be more effective for creatives, coaches, non-profits and educational groups.
Can I engage my community through livestreaming on Hivebrite?
No, Hivebrite does not offer livestreaming capabilities, limiting your ability to engage members through live events and broadcasts.
Are there any more affordable alternatives to Hivebrite?
Yes, platforms like Disciple Media and Bettermode offer alternative options at potentially more budget-friendly prices.