The Ultimate Guide to Circle.so and the Best Alternatives for Your Community
Have you considered using Circle to build a strong online community around your product, service, or content? While there are a couple of features that make Circle a community platform worth considering, you should beware of its disadvantages.
We are here to tell you all you need to know about Circle before you trust it with your most valuable asset — your loyal online community. And if you realize that this is not the best option for you, there’s no need to despair. We will also point you to some of the best Circle alternatives and competitors. The perfect online community platform is out there, waiting for you.
What Is Circle.so?
Circle is a community platform designed for creators who want to gather their community members around their content, engage them in discussions and turn them into paying members. In addition to discussions, members can communicate via direct messaging, too.
With Circle, creators have a chance to build different types of online communities. These include membership, course, product, and coaching communities. The platform also allows for newsletter and podcast communities.
When it comes to discussions, it is possible to organize them in public or private space groups, depending on their nature.
Whenever you create a space group, you can choose different settings to customize it the way you want. For instance, you get to choose whether you allow community members to create spaces, too, or not. When you create private spaces, you can decide whether you’re going to hide them from non-space members. To name a few options.
What Are the Most Common Use Cases for Circle.so?
Are you still wondering whether Circle is the best solution out there for you? There is no single answer to that question. It depends on what exactly it is that you do and what you expect from a community platform.
Here are some of the most common use cases for Circle. Learning more about them should help you decide whether you should stick around or not. If this is not the right community platform for you, it’s time to move on to explore Circle alternatives and competitors. Let’s dig in:
- You want highly-engaged community members who are in touch with each other via direct messaging or participate in various discussions.
- You’re planning to build coaching communities or mastermind groups.
- You are a content creator who wants to connect with the audience and help them connect with each other.
- Your primary goal is to promote your product or a brand and gather your online community around it.
What Are the Top Features of Circle.so?
Using Circle to build your community can be a good decision. That is if you take into consideration some of its best features. These primarily include the following:
Do you already have a website? If so, you’ll find it convenient to simply integrate your community into your existing site. The Circle platform makes this possible.
Are you using online course platforms such as Kajabi or Teachable? Circle makes it possible to share your content created on other community platforms with your Circle community. And only with a single sign-on.
Besides integration with web pages and different community platforms, Circle allows you to integrate multiple handy tools with your community through a single sign-on, and track important analytics, such as the most active members, number of new members, trends, and many more.
You choose your brand colors and add a custom domain that matches your own brand. Your community members don’t even have to notice that they’re on Circle.so and not your own platform.
Once the Circle community is set up, you can add members, set notification settings, and create your community rules and guidelines.
Moreover, Circle offers a range of formatting options for community posts and discussions, along with media and emojis, so you can really jazz up your content and make it engaging.
Circle is a social media platform that allows for the creation of multiple public and private spaces within one community. This feature is beneficial for coaching communities and communities with various interests or needs. For example, private space can be used for organized discussions among members who wish to keep their conversations confidential. In contrast, public space can be used for announcements or general discussions.
Moreover, you can customize each space group differently, giving members in each space group the ability to see different content, post different types of content, and receive different notifications. This makes it easy to segment your Circle community based on interests, needs, or other criteria.
Circle allows you to host live streams and reach hundreds of coaching clients at once. Furthermore, you can invite a co-host, or your members to join you in live group coaching, lessons, and discussions.
Besides live streams, Circle allows you to create events. Once members RSVP to the invitation, the event will be automatically added to their calendars.
Group chats are also another way to promote the interaction between Circle members, and if you want to work on building a more personal connection, you can contact members through direct messages.
You can even reach members outside the group through the weekly email digest, in which you can highlight key events, discussions, and comments from the last week.
Members can easily find each other in private spaces and online communities through member tags. Moreover, Circle offers a variety of search filters, as well as custom profile fields.
Circle offers multiple benefits to course creators. Firstly, you will get access to group coaching, weekly training, and education, and learn how to create a thriving community, set up an onboarding process, and participate in workshops.
Furthermore, Circle offers office hours, in which every content creator gets exclusive behind-the-scenes access to successful Circle communities, a chance to ask questions, and many valuable tips and tricks.
If this is not enough, you can also participate in different space groups and daily discussions and connect with creators of other Circle communities.
Perhaps one of the best things about the Circle platform is that it allows you to own your Circle community. This saves you from elbowing your way to your audience. All you need to do is make your content worth sticking around.
Different types of online communities require different subscriptions. With Circle, you can set up monthly, quarterly, and yearly payments, depending on the content you are creating and selling.
Moreover, you can set up a free trial for new members or special promotions to draw the attention of potential members.
While Circle has some great features for online communities, it does have some drawbacks and may not be the best solution for you. Here are the main disadvantages:
- Pricing – While Circle communities offer many advantages to content creators, it is quite pricy compared to its alternatives. Moreover, the pricier plans do not differ much from the basic one. Even if you choose the Professional Plan, you will still be limited to creating only one community. With GroupApp, you get all the features (and a few extra ones) as with Circle, but for a lower price.
- Not ideal for creating courses – Circle can be used for creating courses. However, the main feature of this platform is the paid community. For course creators, a more suitable alternative would be GroupApp. GroupApp is a platform for cohort learning, meaning that the accent is on both online courses and the community.
- The app is available only for iOS – Circle iOS app was launched in 2021, but there is no word about the Android app. While this may not affect the course creators so much, it can affect members that would like to participate in live streams and other discussions on the go.
- Not many unique features – Circle doesn’t offer anything new. Events, space groups, and online communities aren’t unique features, especially when you can get them all for a lower price on another website. GroupApp offers the same tools, including a few extra ones, like drip course lessons, moderation tools, and teammates.
How Much Does Circle Cost?
When deciding what community platform to choose, one of the big questions to address is, of course, the price of it. So, if you’re still considering the Circle platform, you should also take into account its pricing scheme.
For those who just want to try it out, Circle offers a free trial period of 14 days. However, when that period expires, you have to pay to use this community platform — there is no free plan. Here are your options:
This is the most affordable option and costs $39 a month. This plan provides you with the essentials needed to get started with your community. You can have just 1,000 monthly active members and 10 spaces. This plan also allows for a custom domain, in-app notifications, member profiles and directory, and Zapier integration.
The Enterprise plan is for large businesses, and it amounts to $199 a month. It leaves room for 100,000 monthly active members and 1,000 spaces. Creators also find it useful because it allows for three communities and custom SSO via OAuth, as well as a dedicated account manager, email white labeling, and priority access to the Circle support team.
The Circle platform has some great features. However, with Circle, you’re forced into using multiple different tools. This can make your community experience feel fragmented. Additionally, it will leave you dealing with technical headaches when trying to put together an online community that generates revenue and that your community members will love.
This can be a big problem for creators who are looking to build profitable and sustainable communities with members that will stick around over time.
This is where GroupApp comes in! GroupApp lets you create an online community that you own. Host your online courses and digital content inside of your community. Get paid through subscriptions and course sales and create a unified community experience that your members love.
GroupApp was intentionally designed for online course creators. Instead of creating courses on one platform and managing your community on another, you can have both in the same space.
Improve the success of your online courses and enhance the learning experience by bringing your online course and community together under one platform using GroupApp. Provide course participants with ongoing feedback, guidance, and community support easily and exactly when they need it without having them login into multiple different software tools.
Moreover, transformative learning and online communities benefit students just as much as content creators. On GroupApp, the students can help each other by answering questions in the chat and motivating each other to do better.
With GroupApp, you have every tool you possibly need to create and host courses and much more.
If you’re looking for a way to make your course more engaging, Custom Outline Page is the perfect tool. Customize it with all of those important details and materials that will sell students on what they need in order to jumpstart their new career path!
Within each course, you can easily link videos, images, PDFs, forms, or any other material that students can benefit from.
Furthermore, you can track the progress of your members and reach out if you see anybody struggling. Additionally, GroupApp offers a Drip Course, so participants can gradually gain access to courses.
All of your courses will be stored on the Library page, and you can organize them as you wish with the Drag and Drop builder.
While Circle offers space groups, GroupApp offers channels that can be both private and public. As a course creator, you get complete control over the look of the channel, its purpose, and who can access it.
So within one community, you can organize multiple smaller communities and invite members to share ideas in the Activity feed.
Make your participants feel engaged and valued by assigning them administrative roles within the community.
While you can share your courses on Facebook groups, this community is not profitable because Facebook groups are available to everybody.
Membership site platforms are an excellent way to earn money for your hard work and build your own brand. That’s why GroupApp gives you a chance to monetize through membership subscriptions (monthly or annual). To make things even better, it also allows you to sell your online courses, making another great source of revenue.
Let’s do the math. If you have 250 subscribers, each of whom pays a subscription fee of $15, you can earn $3,750 a month just from subscriptions. Then, if each of those subscribers (or any other 250 people for that matter) buys a course that costs $25, you get another $6,250 per course.
GroupApp is designed to look similar to Facebook groups, which means that there is no relearning required.
Your community members will find the platform easy to navigate and comfortable to use due to the feeling of familiarity. All that without the many disadvantages that make businesses move away from Facebook groups.
GroupApp has affordable pricing for those on a tight budget. It starts with a Basic plan that starts at $29 a month for aspiring creators or personal projects. Even when you decide to upgrade, you won’t have to worry about exorbitant prices. The Pro plan costs $59 a month, while the Premium tier amounts to $189 a month.
You can save additional resources by opting for yearly billing.
While GroupApp doesn’t have a free option, it does offer a 14-day free trial.
Other Circle.so Alternatives and Competitors
In addition to GroupApp as the ultimate choice, there are a few other Circle.so alternatives and competitors that you should be familiar with. Each of them comes with its fair share of benefits and drawbacks.
It’s up to you to weigh all the pros and cons and determine what suits you best depending on your particular requirements. Let’s start with Vanilla Forums.
Vanilla Forums is one of the best forum software solutions out there. It made its way to the top mostly due to the wide array of features that it offers to its users.
In addition to flexible customization, Vanilla Forums is often praised for gamification and reputation system, API, integrations, spam prevention, etc. It is primarily designed for mid-sized companies and enterprises.
There are many reasons why Vanilla Forums might look like the perfect solution, but there is also a significant drawback that you need to beware of — this is a rather pricey solution. It’s enough to say that the starting price is usually close to $700 – not ideal for smaller creators and communities. You need to request a quote if you want to get a precise number, which will be based on the set of features that you choose.
Mighty Networks is another popular community platform, and for a good reason. Among various advantages, this platform is among the rare ones that allow you to own your community. Someone else’s terms and regulations do not limit you — you’re in control.
Unlike Circle.so, Mighty Networks does offer an option to host and sell your online courses, alongside charging membership subscriptions. This is much more convenient than having to integrate your community with another platform to be able to monetize.
What can be problematic about Mighty Networks is that it is limited when it comes to customization and third-party payment platforms. Another potential problem is that there’s a learning curve that can be a big turn-off for some users.
This cloud-based platform is considered one of the best Mighty Networks alternatives and competitors. The features that make Tribe a community platform worth considering are primarily desirable among large companies. For instance, it allows an unlimited number of members and unlimited content, all under your custom domain.
Community members can enjoy a variety of useful functionalities. They can start discussions or engage in the existing ones for a start. They also get to share content, participate in polls, start polls, follow other members, organize events, etc.
The main disadvantage of this community platform is that it doesn’t allow you to include your online courses. There’s no option to go live, either.
Hivebrite is mostly known as a highly customizable community platform. So, if what you need is a platform that can be tailored to all your needs, this may be a good place to start. Another feature that makes this community management platform a popular choice is its detailed analytics.
Hivebrite is an all-in-one platform, so you can rely on it to cover everything you need as an online creator. However, you should know that this comes at a rather high price. To get the exact price, you need to contact Hivebrite and ask for a custom quote, but you shouldn’t be surprised if they set a price of $500 a month.
To have a more versatile solution, you need to turn to some of the best Circle.so alternatives and competitors, like those listed here. If you want everything covered, the best option out there is GroupApp, the all-in-one platform that helps you build and grow your community and earn money at the same time.
Why would you host your courses on one platform and have your community on another one when you can keep them together? Why choose a platform that’s tricky to navigate when your community members can have a familiar-looking and easy-to-use platform and enjoy every second spent using it?
Running a business as an online creator can be challenging enough. Do yourself a favor and make it run seamlessly by relying on a community platform such as GroupApp. Join GroupApp and start creating your community for free!