Top Online Community Platforms...
What is up guys,
Kyrill Krystallis here with anooooother one.
I am typing this up after 2 years of running online communities and basing entire businesses around them.
Personally speaking, I feel as though online communities are one of the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of ANY online marketing campaign or EVEN online business.
This applies to both B2B & B2C industries.
One of our latest webinars over on Youtube on the why’s & how’s of online communities
Why start an online community?
Online communities, in essence, allow you to not only build online marketing distribution channels BUT ALSO own them.
Look at it from this perspective:
Say you want to advertise your newly minted service…
What are your options?
Cold Email Outreach?
YouTube Content Marketing?
All of the aforementioned methods require you to “rent” space on other platforms…
Having your OWN online community gives you the ability to market to your own people WHENEVER YOU FEEL LIKE IT.
No more ad spend.
No more requesting permission from admins to post.
No more deliverability issues.
The question though lies in “what platform one should host his community on”…
Host on the wrong platform and you’re losing both reach & overall ownership of your crowds’ attention.
Host on the right one, and reap the rewards of maximizing your distribution channel.
So let’s go over my personal favourite online community platforms, one by one…
Top Online Community Platforms
Hosting Online Communities on WhatsApp:
WhatsApp remains one of my absolute favourite platforms for not only direct messaging prospects as part of B2B outreaches but also hosting online communities.
It lacks the notification desensitization you see on other platforms like Telegram & Facebook groups as WhatsApp still is predominantly used for family & friends.
Growth Hackers Inc. 4 on Whatsapp
This means that people WILL check group chatter (and likely engage it in it) as long as they joined a group that’s relevant to their interest.
You do have Whatsapp spammers that just randomly add people to groups, but those tend to not last as people start leaving in masses once they realize that they’ve been added without consent…
Personally speaking, I’ve been hosting 5 growth hacking WhatsApp groups on WhatsApp and my ONLY complaint is the max group capacity of 256 members which means that I have to create more groups to scale.
Other than that, it’s amongst my absolute favourites.
Hosting online communities on Facebook Groups:
Facebook groups are definitely an option but not my favourite option…
Growth Hackers Inc. on Facebook
The benefits associated with running a Facebook group are that you not only benefit from the traffic YOU bring to your own group but also from Facebook’s search engine.
Meaning that if you optimize your Group’s title & description correctly your group is expected to grow by people finding your group through Facebook search.
In addition to the above, what I also like about Facebook groups is that you can set “joining questions” which people HAVE to answer in order to be accepted to your online community.
An example of putting this to good use is what I did with Growth Hackers Inc. where one of the key questions all “joinees” must answer is “What’s the best email to send you more growth hacking information on?” which helps build my email list.
Example of email list building questions
Other than that, Facebook’s organic reach just sucks…
People are much more “desensitized” to Facebook notifications when it comes to other platforms therefore the competition for attention just becomes way too much.
Hosting online communities on Discourse:
Discourse is the platform you’re reading this post on!
It’s a more slow-paced community with less notifications but allows for the creation & maintenance of long-form content, better moderation, and richer discussions.
I first tested it several months ago after seeing Bubble.io’s community hosted on Discourse and quickly fell in love with it after learning just how easy it is to host, maintain, and how the content ranks on Google.
Example of our content ranking
A major inspiration for this community (and Discourse as a platform) is, of course, Blackhatworld and the fact that I’d been running online forums since the age of 8 primarily for recreational purposes.
Discourse goes really well when paired with a more fast-paced foundation, like associated Whatsapp, Discord, Telegram or Slack channels.
Hosting online communities on Telegram:
Telegram is another beast altogether, more fast-paced and as engaging as WhatsApp.
Telegram gives people just about the exact same perks as WhatsApp and lacks the group capacity restriction of a maximum of 256 members.
It also gives you the ability to choose between whether you want to create a channel (only the host can post) or a group (everybody can post & engage)
The biggest issue with Telegram though is that I’ve personally found that people don’t check it as much when compared to WhatsApp.
At least in the regions I am marketing in…
In addition to the above, Telegram also makes it TOO EASY to mute group & channel notifications meaning that your ability to have all groups members notified of a post or chat diminishes tremendously.
Currently, I’ve set up a channel ONLY and use it to update the group members about any new content I release.
Example of the Telegram channel I currently run
One of the important things worth mentioning about Telegram is that after Clubhouse’s innovation with audio-room chats, Telegram released its own version which allows you to run audio-rooms within your own groups.
It’s a feature I’ve tried & tested and it works pretty well.
Conclusively speaking, those are my favourite platforms to host communities on; I wanted to also cover both Slack & Discord but unfortunately my experience with them is VERY LITTLE therefore I’ve avoided talking about things I know little about.
If you’ve ever built or ran a successful Slack or Discord channel before comment on your experience below.
But other than that, that’s about it…