Navigating the world of community tools
Are you in the process of researching community tools and feeling overwhelmed by all the choices? You’re not the only one!
With so many community management tools to choose from, it is important to understand the value of each tool available and which tools are best for your unique needs as a community manager.
Today, we’ll be breaking down the world of community tools by exploring a variety of feature-specific platforms as well as all-in-one solutions. By the end of the article, you should feel confident about navigating the world of community tools and be able to make the best choice for your community.
Feature-Specific Community Tools
Community Tools for Knowledge Exchange
Online communities provide a space where members can exchange knowledge, stories, and experiences. Traditionally, these spaces were reserved for social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However these days, there are a number of new community tools that specialize in different community needs while providing a space for organized and centralized communication.
Some community platforms exist in the guise of a forum, allowing members to group conversations by topic and engage in subject-specific conversations. An advantage to this type of platform is that you can create an organized space where members can keep track of a conversation’s history or can search for information on topics that have already been discussed.
Discourse is a modern take on the classic forum, allowing members to post questions and receive replies from other members in threaded conversations. Its contemporary features include a user-friendly interface, gamified features, and personalized member profiles.
Pandered towards consumer goods, financial services, and technology industries, Vanilla gives businesses the space to engage users, encourage discussions about their products and gather feedback on how to improve.
Not to be confused with a forum-style platform, chat community tools encourage a live conversation between members. These are typically used by communities that have a high engagement rate and require relatively quick response times.
Telegram provides a multi-platform messaging service, known for its swift user interface, that promises end-to-end privacy and encryption.
Traditionally used to connect friends, Whatsapp is a simple chat platform that allows live message exchange and has become extremely popular for large group discussions.
Used by many businesses, small and large, Slack offers an integrated chat platform that allows topic-based channels for threaded chats and discussions. It provides a centralized communication platform where several tools can be added to enhance its capabilities.
Aimed initially towards younger audiences primarily for gaming, Discord allows voice, video, and text chatting in segmented channels similar to Slack. To keep a server private, it is possible to set a community to invite-only. Alternatively, a community can be left open for the public.
Community Tools For Events
Hosting regular events can bring value to your community and can increase member involvement. It’s also a great method for increasing online community engagement. To streamline event creation and management, tools for community managers can help with everything from setting up conferences to holding ‘interactive’ live events in a virtual world.
Face-to-face meetings aren’t always possible in the ‘new normal,’ but virtual events are an effective alternative. Innovative community tools take your events beyond the traditional webinar and introduce interactive events that encourage more member participation.
Run The World
Run The World is a platform that facilitates engaging and interactive community-building experiences and events. It is known for its unique cocktail parties that offer an online speed networking experience. Every five minutes, members are matched with a new partner and given five minutes to make their introductions. After this, members can continue to build on their relationship over private messenger.
Breakroom is a social virtual reality platform where members meet ‘face-to-face’ in an online world. It allows companies and communities to create a branded virtual world, and host anything from large conferences and team meetings to Friday socials and birthday parties.
Similar to Breakroom, Airmeet provides a virtual world for communities to host events, meetings, and conferences. It has already proven itself to be a valuable online community tool for networking, by allowing members to explore virtual worlds where they can talk with other members using live chat or audio tools.
Online conference community tools go beyond simple video-meetings; they incorporate features such as breakout sessions and sponsor booths that mimic the real-life conference experience. Online conference tools primarily emerged during Covid, so many of the leading businesses are quite new and still evolving.
Hopin helps you organize virtual and hybrid conferences. To emulate a traditional conference setting, community managers can set up multiple rooms hosting different talks that members can move between.
Attendify offers built-in live streaming, seamless networking features, and content management making it one of the best tools for community managers who regularly organize events. It can be used to schedule online, offline and hybrid events.
Event management tools for community managers help with the entire process of organizing an event. This includes managing invites, ticket sales, and registration details.
Eventbrite facilitates the organization of online events across the world both online and offline. It has become one of the top tools for community building through event management, helping community managers plan, schedule, and manage their events.
As a community tool, Meetup helps community managers organize in-person or online topic-based gatherings around the world. With Meetup, you can schedule events, track RSVP’s and even find new members to join your event through their extensive network of themed events and groups.
Audio-Based Community Tools
Community tools that rely heavily on audio are a new addition to the community management landscape. Rather than exchanging ideas through text, these platforms encourage live audio discussions. We anticipate there will be new players in this category coming to the market in the years to come.
Clubhouse is an audio-chat social network, currently only available on iOS and operating on an invite-only basis. Members can join conversations and discussions on a variety of topics as if participating in a live podcast session.
Quilt is another audio community tool that is slowly rising in popularity with a niche market targeted towards women’s self-care. Quilt facilitates real-time audio conversations within its communities, similar to Clubhouse but more content-focused.
Implementing community engagement strategies can help you to increase activity in an already established community. Community engagement tools work by sending out weekly emails or matching members to other like-minded people.
Lowdown is a useful tool for community managers that already use Slack. It sends out a weekly digest to all of your members and encourages them to revisit posts and interact with them.
Donut, one of the most popular community engagement tools available, builds trust and encourages new relationships within a community by randomly matching members and setting them up for virtual coffee meetups.
Mystery Coffee is more of a corporate-focused tool that matches employees with a new coffee date each week. Partners are chosen based on shared interests, hobbies, and passions and then automatically introduced through a 15-minute video meeting.
Community Tools for Analytics
There are a number of community-building tools designed primarily to track and analyze community data. These tools give you insights into your community, including how members engage with your platform and how quickly it is growing.
Komms works in conjunction with Telegram and helps community managers monitor community engagement and metrics that include average response per post, the number of active members, and the types of media members are sharing with each other.
Commsor combines a number of commonly used community tools into one dashboard. community managers can then track data from these tools to better understand their community activity and to inform their management and marketing strategies.
All-In-One Community Tools
As we have just explored, there are a variety of specific tools for community managers that cover a wide range of needs. That said, juggling a number of fragmented tools can often lead to inefficient processes and ineffective community management. However, there are also all-in-one tools for community building that can help remedy that problem.
Panion is a tool for community managers that more closely mimics the natural rhythms of an organic in-person community. The flexible and intuitive interface encourages organic member engagement with features that allow members to organize and create their own spontaneous events and a searchable member directory that helps members find like-minded people with similar interests and passions. Panion is a scalable platform that can be embedded directly into a website and can also accommodate large networks looking for multiple communities within one network.
Circle’s sleek interface allows community managers to brand the platform, moderate content, and create private spaces within a community. Its flexible and unique features, including its integration with online course platforms and your own website, make it a flexible community-building tool that can be used to create memberships, podcasts, newsletters, and product communities.
Mighty Networks can be embedded into your own website, allowing you to take control over your community content using engagement tools, like live streaming, themed discussions, and quizzes. The platform includes analytics tracking, event management, and monetization features.
If you are looking for a way to enhance an established community, whether it be through new engagement methods or better analytics, it’s worth investing in a feature-specific community tool. However, if you’re struggling to juggle all of the responsibilities of a community manager, investing in an all-in-one platform could save you time and money in the long run. It is important to find a platform that helps your members build meaningful connections as well as find a tool that feels intuitive, saves you time, and provides the most valuable experience for your members.
At Panion, we feel it’s important to provide a well rounded-solution that facilitates communication between your members through tools that help you monitor your community activity, utilize built-in community engagement tools, organize events and monetize on premium features.