8 Alternatives to Hivebrite (including Pros & Cons)

Online communities connect people who share experiences, interests or a desire to improve their lives through coaching or the learning of new skills. By bringing such people together and providing them with an opportunity to meet and share, the online community augments and enhances your marketing capabilities and helps to nurture all-important brand advocates.

The best online communities are 2-way streets that provide community members with a way to meet other like-minded individuals, while providing community managers with a way to harness the enthusiasm of those members to everyone’s benefit. Today, there are dozens of places to build an online community, with Hivebrite being one of the most popular.

Below we’ll take a close look at Hivebrite as well as 8 alternatives to Hivebrite you may want to consider.

What is Hivebrite?

Hivebrite is a community management platform that enables brands, organizations, coaches and others to create a virtual meeting place for their fans, supporters or people interested in availing themselves of a particular service. Hivebrite specialises in hosting academic communities.

What are Hivebrite's best features?

The Hivebrite community platform offers a number of features that help facilitate content creation and interaction including:

  • Enhanced member contact: With Hivebrite, community members are able to interact through forums, private messaging, real time chat and other features.

  • Social network integration: Hivebrite enables community managers to integrate the platform into their broader social media marketing strategy.

  • Live streaming: You have virtually unlimited opportunities to conduct live streams of coaching sessions, live performances, product launches and other events.

  • Online payments: Hivebrite enables community builders to collect membership fees and accept payment for products and services.

  • Cost-effective marketing: Hivebrite allows you to make the most of your marketing budget by providing a platform where you can preview new products to an engaged audience and receive invaluable feedback.

The downside of Hivebrite

Hivebrite community software has a lot going for it, but it is not without its downside. The less desirable aspects of opting for the Hivebrite community platform include:

Limited customization options: Hivebrite’s single platform architecture leaves little room for customization with all users compelled to integrate the same updates.

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.

File sharing issues: File sharing with Hivebrite can be tedious. And if you really want your fledgling online community to thrive it’s important to facilitate file sharing.

  • Push notifications don’t work: Ex-Hivebrite customers often report that their push notifications didn’t work and so they saw a drastic drop in engagement.

  • No livestreaming capability: Hivebrite doesn’t offer livestreaming which is a pretty essential feature for a lot of communities.

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.

8 best alternatives to Hivebrite

The following represent the best alternatives to Hivebrite when it comes to building an online community.

1: Disciple

Disciple has come on strong in recent years making a compelling case that it is not only one of the best alternatives to Hivebrite, but the best online community platform going, period. 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.

You get robust content moderation tools, unlimited live streaming capability, real-time chat, polls, surveys, threaded comments, private messaging, a white label app option, in-app purchases, push notifications and the ability to segment your community and customize the look, feel and functionality of each segment.

Integrate your social media marketing efforts and 3rd party apps, receive priceless feedback from community members, enable file sharing, perform more cost-effective marketing and enjoy complete control over monetization with Disciple.

2: Bettermode (formerly Tribe.so)

When Tribe was rebranded as Bettermode many believed it meant a shift in emphasis from courting large corporate customers a la Hivebrite, to facilitating community building for more street-level vendors, artisans, teachers and others. Unfortunately, a change in logos did not equate to a change in direction. Still, if yours is an established brand or institution looking to create an online community around a product, Bettermode can be a good choice, especially given its built-in SEO features.

But while Bettermode is well made, reliable and effective at what it does it comes up short in a few notable ways. First, as we mentioned, it’s not really designed for small to mid-sized communities. Second, it can get expensive in a hurry because most features are run through 3rd party app integrations. Third, it does not include a native mobile app option so your mobile experience will be limited. And fourth, customization options are pretty limited.

3: Discord

Originally created for gamers, Discord has proven itself a solid chat platform and is now being promoted as a cost-effective way for those with little or no marketing budget to build a community. And because it’s free it can certainly be that. Whether it's the right community platform for you depends on what you’re looking for.

If all you want is a way to facilitate basic communication between your fans, customers, students or others Discord can help. On the other hand, if you're looking to build a vibrant, multi-faceted community that will act as a hub for your marketing efforts you'll probably want something like Disciple, because Discord lacks important features like content moderation, live streaming, polls and more.

4: Podia

In the conversation about viable alternatives to Hivebrite, Podia is often mentioned. And if you have particular skills or knowledge to share with the world Podia may be the solution you’re looking for. It was designed specifically for those who want to sell online courses and it provides a nifty storefront feature that enables you to sell those courses, related videos, e-books, t-shirts and other peripherals.

Podia gets high marks for ease of use, affordability and its intuitive interface. It also makes in-app purchases simple and reliable and it lets you embed "buy" buttons on your website to extend your monetization options. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that content moderation is basic, other features like private messaging are missing entirely, reporting tools are virtually nonexistent and there's no file-sharing option.

5: Buddyboss

Buddyboss is a WordPress plugin that’s installed on your WordPress-based website to turn it into a community hub. Buddyboss is a fast and simple way to jumpstart your community building efforts and works in a way that mimics Facebook and other social networks.

On the downside, Buddyboss is surprisingly expensive for a WordPress plugin, though there is a free trial period. And while it has grown and evolved over the years since its introduction to embrace lots of desirable community-orientated features, it still comes up a bit short. For instance, there is no live streaming option. This can sometimes make it hard to justify shelling out what they want for it.

6: Kajabi

Kajabi is flexible, versatile, easy to use and has an ever-evolving feature set. It's a good choice for those who wish to offer online courses and who want to avoid long, protracted setup ordeals. It bypasses the sometimes lengthy and vexing setup process because it's a hosted community platform. Meaning you're renting space on the Kajabi server and simply loading your content into their native template.

As we mentioned, that can make setting up your community super fast and simple, but it does create its own unique issues. First and foremost customization options are extremely limited, so your Kajabi community is likely going to look an awful lot like everyone else’s Kajabi community. Second, there is no option for including shipping on your in-app sales, meaning it wasn’t designed to sell physical products. And third, it’s designed to facilitate online teaching. So you’ll have a hard time adapting it to something else. It’s also quite expensive considering its limited applicability.

7: Slack

If you work in a modern office environment you’re probably familiar with Slack. Slack started life as a messaging app and has not strayed too far from its original intent, even though it has added some community-related features in recent years. What Slack has going for it is familiarity, reliability and the fact that it's free.

Slack and Hivebrite share a similar focus on social media interaction and so while it’s great for facilitating discussions it’s not so great when it comes to things like branding, event hosting, in-app purchases, or obtaining feedback via surveys or polls. And though the company has launched a couple of for-pay options recently those are hamstrung by a cumbersome subscription model.

8: Facebook Groups

More people are likely aware of Facebook Groups than any other type of online community platform. And while it’s lost its lustre in recent years the service nonetheless continues to attract new adherents every day mostly because it’s free and when you create your community using Facebook Groups you (in theory) have access to 2 billion other Facebook users.

Those are both good things, but many people are beginning to question if they’re enough to offset the downside of Mark Z’s little online clubhouse. That downside includes misuse of member data, hoarding of monetization options, banning of your community members with no explanation and more. All that said, it remains a viable alternative to Hivebrite due to its name recognition, easy setup and the fact that it's free.

Pick the right community platform for you

If you’re looking for alternatives to Hivebrite that will enable you to create exactly the type of online community you envision, Disciple Media stands head and shoulders above the rest.