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Why Community Building is Moving to All-in-one Platforms

An open macbook with the words "join us online" on the screen.

Why would someone choose to migrate their community to an all-in-one platform when they can just keep it for free somewhere on social media like a FB Group or in a conversation tool like slack, discord, or WhatsApp?

I myself launched and managed a thriving community in a FB Group for six years. There are plenty of advantages. But I continue to see more and more people turn to a dedicated, exclusive, and centralized home over social media to foster connection and create value for their members.

What is an all-in-one community platform?

An All-in-one platform is an online space where your community experience (comprised of events, conversation, and content) can happen in one centralized home. In these platforms, members create a profile and are usually alerted through email or push notifications when activity happens.

Common examples of All-in-one platforms that I commonly use to build communities for my clients are Heartbeat (this is an affiliate link), Circle (this is an affiliate link), and Mighty Networks.

Will people really gather somewhere off of social media?

Good marketing goes to where people are already gathering. But good community building isn’t the same as good marketing. Today, building your community on social media is the equivalent to selling your coffee at the Starbucks inside of Target.

Will you sell more coffee by distracting people after they bought toilet paper? Yes.

But will people gather for a heart-felt meetup with their friends? No.

For true connection and belonging, you have to design and foster a space that welcomes vulnerability.

Of course, people can have a communal experience on social media. The concept of community and people coming together can happen anywhere at any time.

But just because you can host a dinner for your friends at the mall dining court, doesn’t mean it’s the best place for you to host an intimate evening of connection.

Common reasons community managers are fed up facilitating their experiences on social media:

  • The fragility of operating on “rented land.” Recent events with Twitter (now X) are a devastating example of just how quickly an entire social media ecosystem can change.

  • Data security concerns and concerns about getting locked out of your community.

  • Constant distractions into other content.

  • The uncertainty of relying on an algorithm for important information.

  • Being powerless when new features are added or taken away

  • Constantly adapting to the whims of platform changes

  • Members leaving social media for good and not being able to participate in your community

  • The challenge of storing courses or long-standing content

  • The challenge of understanding their members activity and engagement across all channels and areas of interaction.

Common reasons members love gathering in an all-in-one platform:

  • Less data security concerns and concerns about how their information will be handled (or sold)

  • ONE place to find everything they need for the community (rather than a blog on the website, conversation in slack, a member directory in notion, and events way over eventbrite)

  • A custom, branded experience just for the needs of the community

  • The ability to form micro-groups easily within the community

  • They feel more confident they’ll be able to find the information they are looking for

Which all-in-one platform is right for my community?

In order to pick the community platform that's right for you, it helps to have an understanding of the experiences you want to facilitate there, your community business model, and your non-negotiable features.

Picking the right platform isn't easy. I have a detailed chart that compares the features of Circle, Heartbeat, and Mighty Networks. These are the big three all-in-one that most of the communities I've built or dissected tend to build on.

But there are MANY new platforms that have popped up over the last year.

In the next couple of months, I’m releasing a new comparison chart comparing all of the up-and-coming platforms across the board. To be the first to know about it, sign up for my email list below.

Join the Fireside Monthly(ish) Newsletter from Ember

How to get started migrating Your community:

Drawing from our experience guiding communities through successful transitions, I teamed up with Laura Aug to curate our insights into a comprehensive four-week Launch Guide and free Workshop. This resource is a clear roadmap that ensures a smooth and effective migration without overcomplicating things.

Each week is divided into milestones and actionable steps, laying the foundation for a smooth transition and positioning your community for growth and scalability.

Get the free download below.

Join the Ember Community

The place for go-getter community entrepreneurs building community-powered businesses.

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