Why Heartbeat is better than Mighty Networks
This article is routinely updated as new features are rolled out. Last updated 4/18/2023.
The most common question I get from clients as a platform-agnostic brand community strategist is which all-in-one community platform is best? The only right answer at the moment is, "it depends." This comparison chart has continued to be my most viewed piece, so I figured I would break it down further into some of the nuances between two platforms at a time.
Which All-in-one Platforms are we talking about?
Let's get on the same page here. First, I define an all-in-one community platform as one place to host the three pillars of community programming: events, conversation, and content. This is important because many community tools like to call themselves platforms (please stop doing that!), but really they only offer one element of community programming. They might only offer you additional analytics, or events management, or a way to do matchups in your community. These are great tools, but they are designed to layer over existing communities and they are not a great place to to host your community if what you want is one centralized location).
There are a host of enterprise-level community platforms that afford you tons of customization for almost any type of community you want to build. These are platforms like Vanilla by Higher Logic, Khoros, and Insided. Generally, if you are taking the first step to become community-led as a brand, or this is your first time creating a community from your audience, you probably don't want to fork over the tens of thousands of dollars required to get set up in one of these platforms.
Like most of my clients, you are looking for a slightly more templated and dramatically less expensive community platform that can help you launch quickly but still provide room for you to grow. For this type of all-in-one community platform I recommend platforms such as Circle, Heartbeat, Mighty Networks, or MeltingSpot (see the full comparison here). So let's dive into the differences between the two most common platforms I build on: Circle and Mighty Networks!
Compare Heartbeat and Mighty Networks
Heartbeat (this is an affiliate link) is a synchronous community platform that caters well to all three pillars of community design: events, conversation, and content, but they especially shine bright in the events department with features that make event mana gement smooth and way less work. Heartbeat offers a broad range of thoughtful features for your community including a referral program for members to refer other community members. Heartbeat is leveraged by a variety of different communities, but we’ve noticed it’s especially popular with cohort-based communities, courses or solopreneur communities.
Mighty Networks has been around for several years and was effectively one of the first creator community platforms. They boast tons of communities and a LOT of features (that have been clunkily layered over) because they have been around a long time. Unfortunately, this platform is built on old tech and needs a complete overhaul to be effective. The navigation on this platform is awful and it is extremely difficult to tell where you are or how to find anything. It doesn't really matter how many fancy (+expensive) features you offer if no one can navigate your community.
People tend to build in Mighty Networks for 3 things: 1) accessibility and 2) custom app (more on this in the table). If one of those three things is make or break and you want to fork over the $30k a year for your own white label app, by all means, go for it. But if not (or if you can even just wait for someone else to build it soon), do not go with Mighty Networks. They have really phenomenal marketing and while their customers will rave about how awesome it is to have everything all in one platform, you can get this and MUCH better navigation in other platforms.
Simplicity or Complexity
➡️ Simple with Good Features Where circle chose simplicity, Heartbeat is creating an ecosystem of community features and functions that lends itself to complexity, but also has great potential for growth.Simple with Good Features Where circle chose simplicity, Heartbeat is creating an ecosystem of community features and functions that lends itself to complexity, but also has great potential for growth.
➡️ Difficult to Navigate with Good Features Where Circle and Heartbeat’s navigation is intuitive, Mighty Networks is confusing. They are working hard to build good features, but they are all built on a fundamentally flawed layout.
Heartbeat facilitates a whole ecosystem of different types of interactions. Each feature (or tool) is called an “app.” There is an app for threads, events, docs, courses, directory, or matchups. Within the threads app there are different channels that can be either post-style or chat-style.
Mighty Networks has a left-hand toolbar where you can (in theory) navigate throughout the platform. However, navigation is confusing and it is impossible to tell at any point in time where you are in the platform.
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Heartbeat recently launched a Courses app in their ecosystem to build course content directly in the community. While the feature is new, knowing their plan to integrate a course framework into the tool is a big win.
Mighty Networks has a course feature directly in the platform and this seems to be a core reason why builders choose mighty networks. But you only get courses when you have the business plan.
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Users can RSVP to events directly in the platform. Admin can host video events on the platform directly (in a pre-existing voice room or create a new room), or users can start voice rooms and turn on their video as well. A zoom integration automatically schedules the zoom call and uploads the recording when an event is made. 🔥 Bonus: At the time of the event, a little live notification will appear at the top for any active users (so they can easily see what’s happening live and join in). Feedback for the event is also posted after the event for the admin to review easily.
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Members can RSVP to event directly in the platform and add the event to their calendar. Integrates with Zoom. They also have a livestretam feature where you can broadcast in the platform and have members comment but not need to show their screens. The number of hours, speakers, and viewers are limited.
Video / Livestream / Broadcasting
❌ No broadcasting
✅ Live rooms (can have just a voice room or a video room) on all plans Heartbeat has a video conferencing tool. (Multiple people on a video call)
✅ Yes, has native video and livestream available
Posts / Threads
Synchronous Chat + Threads Within Heartbeat’s Threads app, you can create three types of channels: thread-style, chat-style, or a voice room. Hearbeat’s format is synchronous (someone’s comment will pop up on your screen without refreshing) so it feels live and active when others are online. When a member is reading a post, you’ll see their profile pop up as active on that thread. While Hearbeat posts are far from simply chatter, the emoji reactions do give it more of a chatty feel than the long form conversation posts in Circle. You can also schedule posts in Heartbeat, which is super helpful!
Asynchronous Feed Posts Mighty networks allows you to post short and long form articles as well as questions and polls with a limit on storage. Mighty Networks relies on your home and discovery feed to bring content and posts your way, but it is really unclear where that content lives, how to find more like it, and where to post. They have thread-style posts where you can react and comment.
Content / Resources / Knowledge Base
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While Heartbeat’s app ecosystem can add a layer of complexity to the platform, we believe the docs app are a great feature. You can take a thread that someone posted and save it as a doc for content reference. Docs are a notion-style database (however they currently lack the ability to tag or @mention).
There is no clear way to turn conversation into content in a knowledge base unless you turn content into a course. Their “topics” feature helps you sort conversation by topic, but there doesn’t seem to be a good way to sort content like you would want to in a knowledge base.
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Groups is one of Heartbeat’s strongest features and allows for a ton of customization within the community. You can sort your community into groups and subgroups up to five levels deep. This is extremely beneficial as your community grows and you want to get better about sending content or prompts only to specific segments of your community. Groups also show up as member tags and can be leveraged as badges, though gamification is not their intended use. There are plenty of automations available around groups as well.
People can opt-in to a category or they can also
Called member categories - based more on an affinity or interest. Select a category in their profile. Can customize the sub-groups.
Heartbeat’s groups can be assigned to membersfor gamification and segmentation, but their formal gamification feature has yet to be rolled out.
Mighty Network appears to be able to segment the audience using identities, but the experience is really confusing and not gamified.
Privacy Settings + SEO
❌ Heartbeat does not have functionality around SEO and all channels are private to the community (you can customize who sees what, but logged-out members cannot view).
✅ Events can be made public and users do not need to log in to RSVP.
✅ Mighty Networks has the ability to turn on and off search indexing.
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Heartbeat has the ability to create customized roles and toggle different abilities on and off based on the role.
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Mighty Networks has host, moderator, and member roles. They list that you get an unlimited number of these like that’s a big perk lol.
Pricing + Plans
Ease of Setup
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Heartbeat provides a “Kickstart” app that walks you through the first steps in getting things set up. It’s super easy to get started.
Mighty Networks makes it easy to set up and has a little onboarding checklist to help you get started.
✅ Heartbeat has a member directory.
✅ Mighty Networks has a member directory and the ability to message members 1:1
Matching or Meetup Feature
✅ Heartbeat has a meetups app directly in the platform where you can allow members to opt-in to be matched with other members (either in a common subgroup or in general) once or on a recurring basis.
❌ no matchups
✅ Direct messaging
✅ Group messaging
The Hearth (for people who are building communities in Heartbeat) has an excellent crowd of community builders to share knowledge and events to guide your community building process.
Mighty Networks has a community for their community builders where they host workshops and lots of content.
Heartbeat allows you to customize the onboarding email and you can customize different onboarding experiences based on the group they are tagged in.
Mighty Networks has a great custom onboarding checklist that you can set up for your members to complete when they first join.
Application to join
❌ Heartbeat does not have a custom application - you have to do this separately and use integrations to connect with the platform.
✅ Mighty Networks does have an application for your members to fill out when they join.
✅ Open API
✅ Tons of Zapier integrations (working on Integrately)
✅ API with business account (doesn’t come with community)
✅ Zapier integrations (only get with business account)
✅ Analytics are available for growth + custom plans. Growth analytics include:Overview: feature views broken into % over threads, DMs, docs, voice calls, and the directory, time before first view, emoji, and comment, and platform usage for website vs mobile app vs desktop appActivity: best times people are lurking or engaging, public vs private conversations, top active users (threads, comments, messages, and reacts), top threads, top channels, top docsEngagement: logins over time, and see increase over last month for threads growth, DM growth, logins, doc views, voice rooms
❌ No analytics listed for community plan
✅ Analytics and member data are listed as available for the business plan.
✅ Heartbeat allows you to collect payments in your community through Stripe.
✅ Mighty Networks allows you to collect payments in your community. You can also do a sliding scale.
✅ Heartbeat allows for custom url, branding color, and logo. The open API allows for you to build onto the tool.
✅ Mighty networks allows custom url, branding, and logo.
✅ All Plans
✅ Custom Domain for all levels
✅ Custom app for mighty pro
✅ iOs App
✅ Android App
✅ Desktop App
✅ iOs App
✅ Android App
Public, private, and secret spaces
✅ Threads can be made private. Members can opt-in to spaces or be added by default. You can also customize threads making them only accessible to certain groups.
✅ Has the ability to make events public or private just for members.
You can make your entire community:
✅ Public: Anyone can sign up and join your MN.
✅ Private: Members can sign up and join once approved by a Host, or if they receive an invitation. Anyone who doesn't meet these requirements will be asked to fill out a form and await Host approval.
✅ Secret: Only members with an invite are allowed to sign up and join. Your Mighty Network will not appear in search results on the Mighty Network homepage.
✅ The ability to create and allow members to start audio chats.
Polls in Posts
✅ Search bar
✅ Filters provided in search bar
✅ Docs can also be organized to help readers find information more easily
✅ Search bar
✅ Filters provided in search bar
✅ Heartbeat DOES have an affiliate program where members can refer other members to my community on their platform and receive commission payout.
✅ There is a built-in member referral program to encourage existing members to invite new ones.
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How to decide which community platform is right for you?
At the end of the day, the platform you choose matters less than how you design and implement your community. That being said, certain platforms can create way more barriers than necessary depending on the programming of your community. While it's important to plan ahead, try to make the decision about where to host your community based on where it is today and will be in a year, not what you anticipate it will look like in five years.
For a really practical approach, for each row in the table, rate how that platform’s features stack up based on what you need. Total each column up and make a quantitative decision. But we highly encourage you to get in and test each platform yourself (each has a free trial) to play around and get a feeling for it yourself.
If you want to fast-track the process and get on a call together, you can share what you need your platform to do for you and I can share what I know of each platform, things to watch out for, and where their strengths will help you shine.