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Best community software

Looking to bring your customers together and create a thriving community? The best community software will just help you do that.

A guide to the 10 best community software

Zuletzt aktualisiert: January 22, 2024

Give your online audience what they’re looking for and deliver excellent customer service with online community software. An online community is an integral part of maintaining strong relationships with your customers—it can boost engagement, foster connections between members, and provide quick support to those with questions or issues.

In this guide, explore the 10 best community software solutions and learn the features to look for, the benefits of community software, best practices, and how to choose the best software for your business.

What is community software?

Community software is a platform that enables members to share information and collaborate with others online. In terms of customer support, community software allows support managers to create a platform where customers can quickly access answers to questions from other community members.

According to Nicole Saunders, Director of Community at Zendesk, communities can be a great asset to an organization, with impacts across the business. She states, “When effectively and strategically run, a user community can help a business scale, save money on support costs, increase adoption and expansion rates, establish brand advocates, and so much more.”

For added support, businesses can let employees interact with customers within these platforms to provide answers when other customers can’t.

Comparison chart of the 10 best community software

SoftwareStarting priceFree trialKey features
Zendesk
$115 per user/month
14 days
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • User profiles

  • Public and private space creation

  • Access to user details for context

  • AI-powered help center

XenForo
$60 per month
7 days
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • Public and private space creation

Hivebrite
Contact sales
N/A
  • User profiles

  • Public and private space creation

Higher Logic
Contact sales
N/A
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • User profiles

  • Public and private space creation

Zapnito
Contact sales
N/A
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • User profiles

Discourse
$25 per month (100 members)
14 days
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • Public and private space creation

Mighty Networks
$33 per month
14 days
  • Public and private space creation

Khoros® Communities
Contact sales
N/A
  • User profiles

  • Public and private space creation

inSided
Contact sales
N/A
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • User profiles

  • Public and private space creation

WordPress.com
$9 per user/month
N/A
  • Voting on posts and comments

  • Public and private space creation

The 10 best online community software

If you’re looking to integrate a quality community management platform within your business, invest in one of the 10 best online community software solutions.

  1. Zendesk

  2. XenForo

  3. Hivebrite

  4. Higher Logic

  5. Zapnito

  6. Discourse

  7. Mighty Networks

  8. Khoros® Communities

  9. inSided

  10. WordPress.com

1. Zendesk

Zendesk

Employees and customers want to feel more connected with other users like them, and there’s no better way to do this than with an online community. With the community software from Zendesk, members can converse with one another, start discussions, and ask for help. In addition to networking, community software allows users to get advice from others and share feedback about products.

Members of the Zendesk support team can also contribute and answer questions or appoint community managers to help with group moderation. Zendesk gives you full control of a customizable forum—you can build a discussion board in minutes to create combined or separate online spaces where your members can collaborate.

Additionally, the Zendesk community software platform features a help center so members can quickly uncover solutions to their issues. Members can also follow and sort posts to keep up with the latest announcements.

Features:

  • Unified feed for knowledge base and community search results

  • Featured posts

  • Voting and following

  • Social sharing

  • Similar posts and suggestions

  • User profiles, including alias mentions

  • Content approval moderation

  • Escalating to tickets

  • Community dashboard

  • AI-powered help center

Pricing:

  • Suite Professional: $115 per agent/month

  • Suite Enterprise: $169 per agent/month

Free trial: 14 days

2. XenForo

XenForo
Image source

XenForo makes it simple for members to discuss and share content within a unified platform. This software lets you create forums, organize topics with category trees, bookmark content for later, start feedback and Q&A threads, and set controls and permissions.

XenForo contains a robust text editor that supports basic image editing, link previews, and file attachments, enabling users and agents to easily share and create content within their community. Additionally, the software allows users to tag content to help streamline organization and make it easier to search for topics.

Features:

  • Content moderation

  • Forum categories

  • Q&A threads

  • User tags and mentions

  • Media embedding

Pricing:

  • Starter: $60 per month

  • Standard: $100 per month

  • Business: $250 per month

Free trial: 7 days

3. Hivebrite

Hivebrite
Image source

Hivebrite’s community manager software helps empower businesses of all sizes to launch and grow communities to help support their goals. The software is fully customizable, so you can match the platform to your unique brand and community. It also allows you to engage with your customers wherever they are and at any time.

Additionally, you can drive and gather engagement insights from Hivebrite’s administration dashboard, which includes a CRM and member management, analytics and reporting, content management, and more. Other features include the ability to assign multiple group moderators, set user rights and permission roles, and configure visibility settings.

Features:

  • Collaboration tools

  • Chat and messaging

  • API

  • Activity news feed

  • Community moderation

Pricing:

  • Contact sales

Free trial: Not available

4. Higher Logic

Higher Logic
Image source

Higher Logic is a community management software solution that offers two products for two business types: Higher Logic Thrive for associations and Higher Logic Vanilla for B2Bs.

Higher Logic Thrive is web- and app-supported and helps boost the customer experience by engaging, reviewing, and communicating with members. This software is for membership organizations that want deeper relationships with their customers.

Higher Logic Vanilla is similar but focuses on B2B companies and is only available on the web. It aims to empower growth-minded companies to create more meaningful customer relationships and encourage engagement. Similar to Higher Logic Thrive, it combines the power of a knowledge base, Q&A threads, customer communities, and ideation.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • Customizable themes

  • Community analytics

  • Q&A threads

  • Activity dashboard

Pricing:

  • Contact sales

Free trial: Not available

Learn more about using Higher Logic with Zendesk.

5. Zapnito

Zapnito
Image source

Zapnito’s community management software helps companies increase customer trust and engagement with its many features, such as conversation and commenting tools, community-generated content, and automated engagement options. For example, the software provides over 50 automatic email options that alert members about community content and activity.

Zapnito’s community forum members can connect with others to share expertise and take advantage of premium content publishing, video panels, events, courses, and more. It’s also a centralized platform, so members can learn, share, and collaborate in one place.

Features:

  • Easy-to-use interface

  • Video panel discussions

  • Commenting and conversation tools

  • Community-generated content

  • Automated engagement options

Pricing:

  • Contact sales

Free trial: Not available

6. Discourse

Discourse
Image source

The Discourse community software platform connects members with the power of discussion. This is made possible by real-time chat, dynamic notifications, and an ever-scrolling feature so you don’t have to find the "Next Page" button. And a custom sidebar lets members personalize their experience to meet their needs.

Discourse lets users create surveys in various languages, so they can collaborate and connect with communities in different countries—and it comes with a feature allowing users to translate these surveys. Discourse also allows users to summarize longer topics so just the most popular and interesting related posts are viewable.

Features:

  • Dynamic notifications

  • Real-time chat

  • Customizable dashboard

  • API

  • Community moderation

Pricing:

  • Basic: $25 per month for up to 100 members + 5 admins

  • Standard: $100 per month for unlimited members + 5 admins

  • Business: $300 per month for unlimited members + 15 admins

  • Enterprise: Contact sales

Free trial: 14 days

7. Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks
Image source

Mighty Networks is a community management platform that helps you build rich content, including polls and questions, events, posts, and articles to engage with members. This software features a Zoom integration and native live streaming so you can broadcast events such as conferences and meetings.

Mighty Networks also allows you to create courses and course communities within one platform—including content-only courses, cohort-based courses, and community-based courses that highlight member activity and challenges. This software is also customizable, so you can design a welcoming experience.

Features:

  • API

  • Activity dashboard

  • Communication management

  • Customizable dashboard

  • Live chat

Pricing:

  • Community: $33 per month

  • Business: $99 per month

  • Path-to-Pro: $249 per month

  • Mighty Pro: Contact sales

Free trial: 14 days

8. Khoros® Communities

Khoros® Communities
Image source

Khoros® Communities is a simple self-service platform that encourages members to share thoughts, discuss topics, ask questions, and provide expert answers. Khoros Communities offers multi-forum management in multiple languages and configurable permissions.

With this software, members can take advantage of the community features, which include a blog as well as a knowledge base that provides useful resources. Additionally, you can craft a community content feed with the syndication feature. Khoros also offers content moderation, reporting and analytics, customizable branding, and more.

Features:

  • Real-time analytics

  • Community moderation

  • Integration capabilities

  • Group management

  • Search and filter options

Pricing:

  • Contact sales

Free trial: Not available

9. inSided

inSided
Image source

InSided is a community management tool that allows businesses to drive customer engagement, provide self-service resources for members, and scale product feedback and ideation. This software easily integrates with your current customer service tools to help you offer efficient support for complex questions.

Using a widget provided on the website and the app, members can find answers to their questions without ever leaving the page. Additionally, inSided allows you to update your members with release notes and social product updates. Note that the features make this software best-suited for SaaS businesses.

Features:

  • Community platform

  • Knowledge base

  • Product feedback and ideation

  • App integration capabilities

  • Centralized customer insights

Pricing:

  • Professional: Contact sales

  • Business: Contact sales

  • Enterprise: Contact sales

Free trial: Not available

Learn more about using inSided with Zendesk.

10. WordPress.com

WordPress.com
Image source

WordPress.com is a popular software used for building websites and community forums, with plugins such as bbPress and wpForo Forum. The bbPress plugin lets you maintain and build multisite forums within a single WordPress.com dashboard.

The wpForo Forum plugin comes with anti-spam and native SEO features, social sharing, and post moderation. Both of these plugins are free to use once you sign up for WordPress, which starts at $9 a month.

Features:

  • Customizable forum

  • Mobile-friendly

  • 24/7 support

  • Upload and embed media

  • Built-in social sharing

Pricing:

  • Personal: $9 per month

  • Premium: $18 per month

  • Business: $40 per month

  • Ecommerce: $70 per month

Free trial: Not available

Learn more about using WordPress with Zendesk.

Features of community management software

Top community software features

It’s important to do thorough research to find software that aligns with your business’s goals. While you’re comparing products, here are some top features to look for in community management software:


Benefits of community management tools

Benefits of community management tools, fist bump

Whether you want to increase customer engagement or gather more customer feedback about your business, there are many advantages to using community management tools. Explore the benefits more in depth below.

Bring customers together to increase engagement and loyalty

With online community management software, customers can collaborate with each other, answer questions, and provide advice. As a result, you may increase customer loyalty and engagement.

For example, InVision partnered with Zendesk to boost customer engagement using the online community software solution and integrations. InVision implemented Zendesk to build a community where designers can help one another with the products and discuss best practices. Since launching the community, the business has received an average of over 50 posts and 32,000 forum views per month.

Reduce support costs and ticket volume

Community-building software can also empower customers to find answers themselves and get assistance from other customers, helping to deflect tickets. When ticket volume is lower, customer support agents can focus on high-value tasks. This increases productivity, reduces overhead costs, and helps teams do more with less.

When Khan Academy wanted to leverage its customer expertise to provide self-service support, the company partnered with Zendesk. Thanks to the software’s automation and self-service features, the number of support tickets decreased—the education community was able to lean on one another for support and answer each other's questions. This resulted in a 38:1 ratio of community views to support tickets.

Gather insights directly from customers

Integrating community management software into your operations can help you gather insights about your products or services directly from the source: your customers. Knowing what your customers want ultimately leads to more sales and better service.

Within community forums, customers are likely to converse about what they like or dislike, which provides a helpful perspective. By encouraging these conversations, community software can shed light on areas of improvement for your business.

Community software best practices

Online community software can be a great long-term asset for your business, as it provides customer support and encourages engagement. But before you launch your community, here are some important best practices to consider.

Figure out what you’re trying to achieve

When navigating this type of software for the first time, it’s essential to communicate the purpose and goals of your community forum. This includes:

  • Your customer service and business objectives

  • The way you’ll structure your community

  • The resources to run the software

For example, say you want to hold an exclusive forum rather than a public one. Ultimately, you must choose what you need from your community forum by aligning the features to your company goals.

Determine who will be responsible

Your community forum cannot succeed if it’s not managed properly. Pick a community manager who can help facilitate conversation, drive growth, and track strategy insights and outcomes.

Also, it’s important to designate agents who can tackle day-to-day conversations. These agents will be responsible for:

  • Providing answers to customer questions

  • Fact-checking posts by customers

  • Escalating issues that can’t be solved within the forum

When choosing employees to manage your community forum, it’s a good idea to consider those who are natural at connecting with others.

Set up moderations and guidelines

To maintain control of your community forum, you’ll need to establish moderations and guidelines. Whether you have an exclusive or public community, having a code of conduct and moderation filters can help prevent inappropriate behavior and comments.

If you have a larger community with many posts and members, you can delegate moderator responsibilities to the most active contributors to help lessen the workload on your agents. This will enable them to provide top-notch customer service.

Create topics

To get the ball rolling and kick-start conversations in your new community, add some topics to the forum. Topics will vary depending on the industry and type of business, but some general topics you can post include:

  • A welcome and how-to message

  • Upcoming event announcements

  • An “introduce yourself” thread where agents and/or customers can meet one another

Regularly monitor and adapt

Lastly, make sure there’s a process in place to track the performance and impact of the community software. Your community will constantly evolve with new conversation threads and topics, so it’s important to keep tabs on it and make changes as needed.

This could look like routine maintenance, such as archiving old and inactive threads or setting up new filters or rules if your community has grown. Observing and adapting your community can ensure it remains meaningful and productive.

How to choose the right online community software

Now that you know the many features and benefits of online community software, it’s time to pick the one that best aligns with your company’s goals. Below are some questions to ask when choosing online community platform software.


Try community software for free

Looking to drive more customer engagement with your brand? Create a social community that acts as both a solution and a supplement that enhances the user experience.

Related community software guides

Zendesk community software is the solution for better self-service and higher customer satisfaction. Easily guide customers to essential resources and promote engagement that aligns with your company goals. Use these resources to learn how.

Empower your customers and employees with a community software