Facebook Group Alternatives
8 best free & paid alternatives to Facebook Groups for online communities
Online communities are more popular than ever.
An incredible 76% of internet users participate in a virtual community, and 66% of people say they join online communities to meet others who share their interests.
Research shows that this is especially true for Gen Z audiences who feel that public social media is too cluttered and prefer private communities for online interactions.
These communities range from ultra-niche subreddits to professional mastermind groups. Many creators are starting their own online communities, too – but it can be hard to find a community platform with all of the features you need to create an engaging member experience.
We surveyed 602 creators about the community platforms they use, what they think of those platforms, and what’s most important to them as they build their communities.
Here’s what we found:
- 74% of creators are using Facebook for their communities.
- 86% of creators want to switch community platforms (88% of those using Facebook and 78% of those not using Facebook).
- The most important feature to creators is the ability to connect their work with their community in one place.
If your members already have Facebook accounts, starting a Facebook group makes it easy for them to access your community. But once they log in, the experience is far from ideal for members and admins alike.
That’s why we’re sharing eight Facebook group alternatives for running an online community.
But first, let’s talk a little bit more about why so many community creators want to leave Facebook groups in the first place.
Note: All pricing is accurate at the time of writing, but this is subject to change over time.
Why are online creators looking for alternatives to Facebook Groups?
As we mentioned above, 74% of creators use Facebook for their communities – but 88% want to switch to a new community platform.
Here are a few reasons why:
Platform ethics: Facebook and its subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram, are mired in controversy. Over the past few years, we’ve seen story after story about radicalization, misinformation, privacy issues, and failing to protect users’ personal data in the Cambridge Analytica breach.
Adding insult to injury, top executives have shut down efforts to fix these problems.
Unpredictable algorithms: Using Facebook groups to host an online community also puts creators and community managers at the mercy of an ever-changing algorithm.
In recent years, updates to the social network’s algorithm have led to a decrease in organic reach, meaning fewer users see content from creators and fellow group members in their newsfeeds.
No paid community feature: If you want to create a paid community, you can’t charge new members for access directly on Facebook. Instead, you’ll need to create a private group, take payments on a separate platform, then manually admit those who paid to the group.
No business-building tools: Facebook also lacks the features creators need to run an online business, including email marketing, affiliate marketing, and the ability to host and sell digital products.
Here are a few more reasons creators dislike using Facebook, in their own words:
- “I think FB is too distracting, and members either won’t find my content or won’t stick around.”
- “FB groups are untrustworthy and gimmicky, and people are running from FB right now, so it’s hard to create engagement there."
- “I really hate sending my people to Facebook or similarly shady tech companies that harvest data and use it to hook us on distraction.”
- “I have to pay a full-time VA to admit members, welcome them, moderate, etc. We have Google Sheets and separate Facebook Messenger software that costs $30/month, plus Facebook’s algorithm and distractions. It’s such a mess.”
Creators tend to build digital communities on social media platforms for lack of a better solution. Facebook groups make it easy to log in, but that’s where most of the benefits end.
If you’re one of the many creators looking to switch to a different platform, here are eight alternatives to check out.
Top 8 Facebook alternatives for online communities
Unlike Facebook groups, Podia gives you complete control over your online community, from the content you share to how you interact with members. You can offer free and paid memberships, create unlimited discussion topics, and set up notifications so that your members never miss a new post.
“I have a section in my community called, ‘Is it done yet?’ This is where people submit recordings of what they are working on," he explains.
In this space, members receive personalized feedback on their playing from both Joseph and their fellow students. This builds community engagement and camaraderie among students. People can see each other’s progress while putting names to faces and forming friendships.
One of the biggest benefits of Podia is that community members can buy your products, access your content, and post and join discussions with each other – all from the same place.
Because they’re already logged in to purchase your products or consume your content, there’s no need to log into a separate platform or rely on Facebook. That’s a better experience for your members and gives you full control over your community.
- Build free and paid online communities in the same place as your content and products
- Sell online courses, digital downloads, coaching, and webinars
- Post (and let members post) a wide range of file types, including SoundCloud, Google Drive, Typeform, and more
- Control posting and commenting permissions
- Email marketing, affiliate marketing, and live chat features
- User-friendly website and sales page builder
- Accept payments through PayPal and Stripe
- Industry-leading creator-friendly support
- Embeddable checkout with a code snippet on any site, including WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Unbounce, and more
- Free plan (Includes a community, full website, one digital download, and one coaching product)
- Mover: $39/month
- Shaker: $89/month
- Earthquaker $199/month
Sign up now
Get your free Podia account
Join the 150,000+ creators who use Podia to create websites, sell digital products, and build online communities.
2. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is an online community platform where creators can build free and paid communities. Creators on higher-tiered plans can also sell online courses on the platform.
When you build a community on Mighty Networks, you can charge for memberships with recurring billing or one-time fees. Advanced community features include live streams, direct messaging, virtual events, and member profiles.
Mighty Networks features:
- Build a community membership
- Create live or cohort courses on the Business plan and up
- Native video hosting
- Live streams, live events, and event calendar functionality
- Group and private chat messaging between members
- Unlimited members and moderators
Mighty Networks benefits:
On Mighty Networks, you can create free or paid communities for your followers. Unlike Facebook groups, Mighty Networks lets you offer your members resources and private areas.
Mighty Networks downsides:
Mighty Networks doesn’t have a free plan and charges transaction fees on top of monthly rates, which can quickly add up as your community grows.
In addition, online course features are only available on the $119/month Business plan and above. If you plan to sell coaching, consulting, or digital downloads, you may need to pay for additional tools.
Mighty Networks pricing:
- Free trial: (5% transaction fee)
- Community Plan: $39/month (3% transaction fee)
- Business Plan: $119/month (2% transaction fee)
- Mighty Pro: Custom pricing
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform where you can sell courses, digital downloads, coaching, podcasts, and community memberships. You can also use Kajabi to run your email marketing, make a website, build sales funnels (called pipelines), and create an affiliate marketing platform.
Kajabi’s community feature lets you add a discussion forum to your courses or build a standalone online community.
- Sell courses, coaching, memberships, communities, and podcasts
- Create built-in sales funnels
- Website builder with themes and blog functionality
- Customer tracking, analytics, and automations
- Accept payments through Stripe and PayPal
- No transaction fees
- Mobile app
Kajabi is one of the most feature-rich all-in-one platforms for creators. The mobile app makes it easy for members to access your courses and community on the go. Plus, there are no transaction fees on any Kajabi plan.
The biggest downsides to Kajabi are its hefty price tag and product limits.
Kajabi is one of the most expensive online course and community platforms, making it cost-prohibitive for many creators who are just getting started.
In addition to charging a more expensive monthly rate, Kajabi imposes product limits on all plans:
- Basic plan: Three products, three pipelines, and up to 1,000 active members
- Growth plan: 15 products, 15 pipelines, and up to 10,000 active members
- Pro plan: 100 products and 100 pipelines, and up to 20,000 active members
Kajabi defines a member as anyone who has logged into your courses or community at least once during the month.
These limits can be especially costly for creators who want to sell digital products in addition to running an online community. Our 900+ creator survey revealed that creators have an average of 10.95 products, meaning many would have to use Kajabi’s pricey Growth or Pro plan.
- Basic: $149/month
- Growth: $199/month
- Pro: $399/month
Reddit is a forum-style social media site made up of more than 100K active subgroups called subreddits. Every subreddit is dedicated to a different interest or niche, so users can choose to join the subreddits for the topics they’re most interested in.
If there isn’t a subreddit that matches your interests, you can create your own for your online community – if you meet the requirements to do so.
Your account must be at least 30 days old, and you must have some amount of positive karma. You earn karma on Reddit when you post or comment and when other users interact with your posts and comments.
On Reddit, users’ content feed is populated with posts from the different subreddits they belong to. Where content shows up on the feed is determined by voting. Users upvote posts that they find entertaining, interesting, or valuable. The more upvotes a post has, the higher up on the feed it’ll be.
- Free to create a subreddit
- Over 50 million daily active users on the platform
- Can create a public, private, or restricted subreddit
- Simple, user-friendly forum structure
Though Reddit is a popular public social media site, you do have some control over who can access your subreddit by setting it to restricted or private.
In a restricted community, anyone can view or comment on posts; however, only members approved by the moderators can post. In a private community, only members approved by moderators can view, comment on, and create posts. In both cases, it’s up to the subreddit’s moderators to approve or remove members.
In addition, search engines can index the content on public subreddits, making it easier for potential members to find your community.
If you’re not already an active Reddit user, you’ll need to wait 30 days and interact with other subreddits’ content enough to earn some karma before creating your own subreddit.
Beyond that, Reddit shares many of the downsides of Facebook groups. There are no monetization options on the platform, and accepting compensation from subreddit members as a moderator is against Reddit’s terms of service.
Because users can belong to an unlimited number of subreddits, the site is inherently full of distractions. In addition, for an ad-free experience, users need to pay for Reddit Premium.
- Reddit Premium for ad-free browsing, custom avatars and icons, and more exclusive features: $5.99/month or $49.99/year
Overall, Reddit can be an excellent place to connect with others who share your interests, but it’s not a great choice for running your own online community if you want to monetize your audience.
Slack is a messaging platform originally designed to help remote teams collaborate and communicate. More than 100K businesses use Slack, from startups to Fortune 100 companies.
Though it mainly functions as workplace chat software, Slack can also be used for online communities. Your community is called a workspace. Within your workspace, you can create private and public channels dedicated to different topics.
- Create a community
- Send messages to groups or individuals
- Members can communicate with each other via one-on-one and group DMs
- Public and private channels
- Over 2K integrations, including Google Drive, Trello, Twitter, Zoom, and Giphy
- Build custom integrations with the Slack API
- Mobile app for iOS and Android
Slack makes it easy for community members to connect via written messages, plus in-app video and audio calls. Channels and threads make it simple to keep conversations organized.
The free version of Slack comes with all of the basic community-building features, including channels, threads, and up to 10 integrations. There’s also no member limit on the free plan.
One of the biggest downsides of using Slack for your online community is that you can’t charge for access or create membership tiers directly on the platform. You’ll need to use an additional tool to accept payments and create a public-facing website or sales page.
In addition, if you go beyond the free plan, you pay a monthly fee per user, which can quickly become cost-prohibitive for larger communities. These limitations can make community-building a challenge.
- Pro: $8/month per user
- Business: $15/month per user
- Enterprise: Custom pricing
Initially created so groups of friends could chat while streaming video games, Discord has become a popular choice for online communities. On Discord, communities are referred to as servers.
Like Slack, Discord lets you create public and private channels for different discussion topics. Users can access all of the servers they belong to from the same login, making it convenient to switch between multiple communities.
- Create public and private channels around different topics
- Direct messaging lets members interact with you and each other
- Run group audio and video calls
- Custom permissions for different members
Discord is a user-friendly platform. Community members can communicate through written messages, audio calls, and video calls.
If your audience is involved in gaming or fandoms, chances are they’re already familiar with Discord. They won’t have to learn how to use a new tool to get started.
There’s no native way to charge for access to a Discord server. If you want to charge for community membership, you’ll need to use an external tool to create a sales page and collect payments. You’ll also need additional tools for selling digital products, email marketing, and building your website.
All in all, Discord is an excellent app for connecting with friends, but it lacks many of the features creators need to monetize their audience and build their business.
- Discord Nitro Classic: $49.99/year
- Discord Nitro: $99.99/year
Discourse is an open-source discussion forum platform. Because it’s open-source, Discourse is flexible and customizable – but it can also get technically complex.
If you build your community on Discourse, you can set up private spaces, upload file attachments, create polls, and make invite-only communities. There are also several plugins available to add functionality to your community.
- Completely open-source software
- Install themes for different designs
- Create public and private spaces for members
- Members are notified when someone tags them in a post or reply
- Moderation tools and analytics
- Plugins to add functionality, including a community calendar, live chat integration, and subscriptions
Discourse was designed around the value of civilized communication, meaning their moderation software is designed with community-building and member safety in mind.
This includes spam blocking, reporting features, and different levels of moderation access based on how long members have been active.
Discourse is best for tech-savvy community creators. While the basic Discourse software is open-source and free, setting it up in a self-hosted environment can get complicated quickly. If you don’t want to take the DIY approach, their pricey paid plans will handle the technical details for you.
In addition, Discourse doesn’t offer the ability to sell community memberships or digital products, so you’ll need to install additional plugins to do so.
- Free plus the costs of an external web host
- Standard: $100/month
- Business: $300/month
- Enterprise: Custom pricing
Tribe is a customizable community platform designed for businesses who want to build customer communities on their websites or mobile apps.
While any creator can use Tribe to build a public or private community, the platform primarily focuses on enterprise-level businesses rather than entrepreneurs and startups.
Members can share content, ask questions, start discussions, participate in polls, and more.
- White-label platform lets businesses customize their community to fit their brand
- Set up unlimited spaces
- Tag posts based on categories or interests
- Build public or private communities
- Community management and moderation tools
- Integrations with Intercom, Google Analytics, Zapier, custom scripts, and more
Tribe is an excellent choice for established businesses to build a community designed specifically for customers and brand loyalists.
With this in mind, Tribe’s best features are geared toward enterprise-level users: customization options to fit your branding, custom domains, member profiles, gamification, and moderation.
Because Tribe is designed for enterprises, the focus is more on building brand loyalty than forming connections between members.
There’s no built-in messaging functionality, making it more difficult for creators to reach out to members directly and for members to interact with each other.
Furthermore, there’s no built-in method to create paid membership plans. If you want to charge for community access, you’ll need to use third-party integrations via Zapier. You’ll also need to connect additional tools to sell digital products within your community.
- Basic: Free up to 100 members
- Plus: $59/month
- Premium: $239/month
- Enterprise: Custom pricing
Find the right Facebook group alternative for you
What are the best free Facebook Groups alternatives?
- Podia offers a free plan.
- Tribe is free for up to 100 members.
What are the best paid Facebook Groups alternatives?
- Mighty Networks: Paid plans start at $39/month with a 3% transaction fee.
- Podia: Paid plans start at $39/month with no transaction fees and include all of the features you need to build your online community, create a website, and sell digital products.
What is the best all-in-one Facebook Groups alternative?
Podia makes it easy to run free or paid online communities. You can create public and private discussion topics, give members access to exclusive content, and enjoy the control and customization that Facebook groups just don’t offer.
If you want to monetize your audience beyond your community, you won’t need to juggle extra tools. You can build a website and sell digital products like courses, downloads, and coaching with Podia, making it a great alternative to Facebook’s limited platform.
Bottom line: Podia gives you the features and flexibility you need to build a thriving online community and grow your online business. Wherever your creator journey takes you, we’re here to help. Get started with a free Podia account.