Community building stacks

It's 2020, and if we take away the fact that we're living in what feels like a pre-apocalypse world, the tech industry is getting into a transformative period. The conversation around tech and building products is shifting from "growth at all costs" to "take a step back and understand things".

Community building appeared in the period when it was much needed to connect customers to companies and content creators to their audience.

In the current article, I will talk about popular tools and stacks that are used for community building. Additionally, I'll break down:

  • how much it costs to set up the community,
  • how much it costs to run 100 members community,
  • how much it is to have 100$ MRR.

Today's roundup includes MemberfulMemberspaceDiscordCircle, and Commento.

Memberful && Discord

Memberful and Discord is a very popular stack for communities. I use it for my Recoon community. I've been a user of Memberful just before I launched the community and I think they went ahead with adding the Discord integration.

If you don't know Discord had a huge shift in their positioning to serve more to online communities. Which made a huge buzz in the community building side of Twitter. I have a lot of thoughts about Discord as a community management system and specifically on Discord/Slack conversation (in short Slack sucks).

What Memberful && Discord combo provides:

  • Straightforward setup. The dashboard of Memberful is the easiest to navigate thus far.
  • Discord will give a very familiar (sometimes slack-like) communication style.
  • Discord is a Synchronous chat application you need to be aware of that.
  • The internal meetings and AMAs will be easy to set up as Discord has free audio and video channels. With some very short battle with discord server settings, you can also configure streaming directly to Youtube and (or) Twitch.
  • Memberful can help you set up a popular combo of private newsletter + podcast + community.
  • If you are on the WordPress ecosystem then you can use the Memberful plugin.
  • Selling digital downloads to customers and not only community members are also in the package.

One minus this setup has for me is it's the inability to add members' database. You'll have some information about your members in the Memberful dashboard, but for me, it's not enough. You have to figure out your onboarding methods and what database to use.

100 members && $100 MRR

memberful and discord setup

Memberful && Circle

The high-end version of Memberful && Discord setup. Actually, this will work not only with Memberful but also with Memberstack and MemberSpace.

Circle is a much more sophisticated version of Discord. It's a fairly new product that already is taking part in the community market as an upgrade version for Discord and Slack communities. Few things that you need to be aware of about Circle:

  • Circle is charging by the number of members,
  • Circle is charging by the number of spaces you can create.

However, both of those pricing limitations are quite generous.

What Memberful && Circle combo provides:

  • custom domain - yes, fireworks everywhere, and so on. Owning your content has never been so crucial and this setup is helping you with that.
  • custom branding, badges, colors, roles, etc. If you liked the roles in the Discord set up then you'll love Circle as well.
  • great onboarding experience. I'm a sucker for any tool that has a good onboarding process planned out, and I'm not talking about my onboarding on Circle. I'm talking about community member's onboarding into the community. They have it figured out will great messages that are customizable. In collaboration with Memberful's library of automated emails, this is a match is made in heaven.
  • direct asynchronous messaging between the members. Circle is an asynchronous platform and it makes sure you know it before starting the setup. If you are tired of endless notifications from Discord or Slack it's a good choice.
  • Notifications to the members are fully customizable. This means you can reduce the number of emails they get and thus make the community a noise-free mindful place.
  • Circle provides moderation - which I haven't seen on any other platform. Discord also has some sort of moderation but it's main purpose is to protect the server from the bots by requiring different authorization levels in the Discord itself. While in Circle you can moderate posts, report the member, and review moderated posts.
  • In combination with Memberful again a very easy way to set up a full content creation ecosystem private newsletter + podcast + community.

For me, the selling point of Circle is hands down their great onboarding experience and moderation. It's an attempt to solve a big problem that a lot of communities will face.

But let's talk numbers as Circle is very paid. Circle is not charging any transaction fees as it doesn't have any internal monetization features. Instead, it has integrations with Memberful, Memberstack, and all other platforms that provide Single Sign-On authorization. Again as a spoiler to upcoming numbers, Circle is definitely an upgrade from other platforms for a community.

100 members && $100 MRR

memberful and circle setup, community, community building, discover community, community finder, anna grigoryan, anna community
memberful and circle pricing

Memberspace && Commento

The dark horse of today's roundup. Commento is a tool that I discovered recently from the Dense Discovery newsletter. Speaking simply it's an embeddable comments section for your website. Add it wherever you want and you'll have a ready to go engagement place in your blog.

A charry on top for a privacy nerd it's total privacy-focused and thus you have to pay for it. It doesn't allow tracking links and spam into the comments and this is just 1 of their features I love. Also, this is the stack I'm leaning towards.

What Memberspace && Commento combo provides:

  • It's cheap and easy to set up if you're just testing out the community features for your content. If you're not sure yet if community building is for you then this combination is for you. With Commento you can create a simple comments section and see with which content your users are interacting and are they interacting at all.
  • Spam filtering and the privacy-focused approached of Commento are a great addition to the platform.
  • Moderation tools for yourself and your customers.
  • Export of the data and comments from Commento if you want to move out.

One downside of Memberspace and Commento duo is that you need to have some tech background to sync the two. Commento's documentation is very understandable, it's an open-source project which adds an extra layer of security for me.

And drum roll, how much it will cost if you decided to go with this setup.

memberspace and circle setup, community, community building, discover community, community finder, anna grigoryan, anna community
memberspace and commento set up

Hope this was informative article. I plan to cover other community building stacks too, so stay tuned with the blog.

New community and passion economy content weekly.