9min read

Beyond BuddyPress: Alternative Online Community Management Platforms

by Article by Juli Durante Juli Durante | March 22, 2023 at 12:30 PM

BuddyPress is often considered one of the most accessible and highly-rated community management or forum plugins for WordPress. It’s free and can be self-implemented. BuddyPress enables user-generated content, messaging, and forum posts. 

Generally speaking, we agree - if you must host your community on WordPress, BuddyPress is an excellent choice.

But if you’re looking for BuddyPress alternatives that means something about the plugin isn’t quite working for you. We often hear qualms such as:

  • We’re moving our website away from WordPress, so BuddyPress doesn’t make sense anymore.

  • We tried integrating data from BuddyPress into our CRM so that sales and service teams can review posts, but it was too costly or not possible. 

  • We’re looking for features that BuddyPress doesn’t have. 

5 Popular BuddyPress Alternatives

  1. BuddyBoss for WordPress

  2. Tribe (Premium and Advanced options)

  3. Salesforce Community Cloud 

  4. Khoros

  5. Cohortium for HubSpot

→ Jump down to see the full comparison

 

Consideration for Your Next Online Community Management Platform

1. Cost

When moving from a free solution like BuddyPress to something paid or even premium, cost is often a top concern. As you are increasing your investment in your community management platform, expectations around member experience, automation, moderator experience, and features. Pricing models vary, but you’ll want to check for: 

  • One-time versus recurring fees (monthly or annual fees 
  • Per-user costs (how many users are included in the subscription? Is there a limit?)
  • Per-admin costs (does it cost extra to add additional admin seats?)

2. Community Platform Features

Ensuring a feature-rich experience for both your community members and your moderators and admins is, of course, essential. When comparing features, considering BuddyPress alternatives allows you to expand your horizons. Some popular features include: 

  • Variable Access Levels.  Some solutions will allow you to have both public and private forums simultaneously. Others will also allow you to host private cohorts within public communities. Simpler solutions may have public-only or private-only options, which could make it difficult to manage access as your community grows.

  • Multiple Community Hosting. If you need different groups to host communities (for example, a community for customers and a separate community for prospects), a solution with multiple, simultaneous communities is ideal. 

  • Badging Options.  Badging and gamification help engage your members - but what kind of control do you want over those badges? Look for solutions that offer customizable rules and automation as well as custom design options for your badges. 

  • Moderation Features.  Simple moderation can start with blocked keywords and the ability to hide posts. More advanced solutions might send notifications of certain kinds of posts or posts containing potentially hot or concerning keywords to moderators via Slack, e-mail, or the platform itself. Required moderation is also a feature that many organizations with private communities seek. 

  • Community Stats and Analytics. If you want to understand how your users are engaging with your community site, having reporting and analysis tools at the ready is ideal. A solution that also integrates CRM data, which will let you understand the relationship between categories, topics, replies, people, and companies, makes your reporting all the more powerful. CRM connection also unlocks additional data storage and activity logs. 

3. Member Features

Member-facing features have a great effect on community participation and adoption. While there are many features your members might look for, some particularly helpful functions include: 

  • Multilingual Functionality.  Can community labels and prompts be set in different languages? 
  • Search functionality.  Help your users avoid that ever-present “Discussed in previous thread” message by giving them easy and effective ways to search previous posts. 
  • Personalized content recommendations.  Ensure members can get more of the content they already enjoy. Share related resources or content based on interests or engagement. 
  • 1:1 user connections. From viewing member profiles to following specific users, adding 1:1 messaging, and more, your community platform could go from a simple forum to a social media-like tool. 
  • Embeddable content and file sharing. Going beyond text-based posts, the ability to embed images, videos, and share other files enhances the user experience. 
  • Mobile experience.  A good solution should be mobile-accessible. Some may also have dedicated apps. If choosing an app-based solution, also having a desktop site is ideal. 

4. Ability to Personalize

Personalizing the look and feel of your platform is always ideal - you want your users to know that the community platform isn’t some separate company. Customizing the look and feel is just the beginning. We recommend you look for: 

  • Fully customizable layouts to put the right information in the right place for your users, even adding calls to action or badges. 

  • No-code page templates that allow you to use a drag-and-drop editor to make initial setup and long-term edits easy. 

  • Color, font, and style match your own branding.

  • Hosting on your own domain or subdomains depending on your needs and preferences, ideally with SSL included for security. 

  • Email communication

    from your email-sending domain with your branding built in. 

5. Fully-Custom Opportunities Available

While many SaaS products come with a set of features out of the box, most don’t allow you to build on top of their existing feature set and add more functionality or further customize the design–you’re locked in. When you make considerations outside of standalone solutions or integrations, this type of customization becomes a reality. 

BuddyPress Alternatives Comparison Chart

 

cohortium

Salesforce Community Cloud

Tribe
Premium

Tribe Advanced

BuddyPress

Khoros

Monthly Cost

$0

Includes:

∞ admin seats
∞ users

$2/login or $5/member

Members = frequent users of a Community

Logins = infrequent users of a Community

$299/month

Includes: 

5 admin seats
25k members
(admin seats = admin and moderator users)

$599/month

Includes: 

10 admin seats
100k members

$0

Includes:

∞ admin seats
∞ users

$35,000+

Additional Admin Seats

$0

$150
/user/month for SFDC sales enterprise (most popular sales subscription)

$29
/user/month

$39
/user/month

$0

?

Usage Costs

Assuming: 

One time $8,000 install cost

Assuming:

(Max members = 100k)

50% = logins
50% = members

Seats:
3 - Sales 
3 - Mktg
3 - Service
3 - Moderator

Assuming:

Members: 25k
(
max)


Seats:
3 - Sales 
3 - Mktg
3 - Service
3 - Moderator

Assuming:

Members: 100k
(max)

 

Seats:
3 - Sales 
3 - Mktg
3 - Service
3 - Moderator

Dependent on number of plug-ins. 



0 to 500k: $90k

500k to 3m: $90k - $210k

3m to 6m: $210k - $330k

6m+: Usage purchased separately

Year 1 cost:

$8,000

$371,600

$6,024

$8,124

Variable

Variable

Year 2-4 cost:

$0

$1,114,800

$18,072

$24,372

Variable

Variable

Features for Community Moderators and Your Team

Single platform for multiple communities

✔

✔

   

✔

✔

Public forums

✔

 

✔

✔

✔

✔

Private forums

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Private cohorts within public communities

✔

 

?

?

 

?

Slack notifications for moderators and admins

✔

 

⚠️
With zapier

⚠️
With zapier

 

?

Custom and automated badge earning

✔

✔

     

✔

Activity & Analytics Data

Fully built-in to CRM

✔
HubSpot

✔
SFDC

🚫

🚫

🚫

🚫

Analytics data

✔
Stored in your HubSpot analytics tools forever

✔
Stored in
SFDC reporting forever

⚠️
Stored in tribe.so for 1 year

⚠️
Stored in tribe.so forever

 

✔

Activity log

✔
Stored in
HubSpot for all records using automatic associations

✔
Stored in
SFDC on lead/contact records

🚫

🚫

✔

✔

Activity data stored with other contact data

✔
HubSpot

✔
SFDC

🚫

🚫

🚫

🚫

Fully customizable to your brand

Zero-code templates

✔

✔

🚫

🚫

   

Fully custom layouts

✔

Fully customizable and templates provided

✔

Fully customizable

🚫
Library of options

🚫
Library of options

🚫
Available with plugins

✔

Drag & drop visual editor

✔

🚫

🚫

🚫

🚫

✔

Font and color options

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Header and sidebar customizations

✔

Fully customizable or compatible with existing elements from current website

✔

Fully customizable

⚠️
Library of options

⚠️
Library of options

⚠️

Available with plugins

✔

Full CMS

✔

     

✔

 

Ability to host on root domain

✔

⚠️
Requires custom domain/subdomain

✔

✔

⚠️
Available via API

 

Email communication

✔
Sent from HubSpot Marketing or Sales with your branding

?

⚠️
Sent from tribe.so with tribe.so branding

⚠️
Sent from tribe.so with your branding

 

✔

Moderation

Hide posts

✔

   

✔

✔

 

Automated keyword blocking

✔

   

✔

   

Security

SSL certificates

✔

✔

🚫

🚫

 

✔

Cookie consent management

✔

 

⚠️
With external app

⚠️
With external app

⚠️
With plugin

✔

Features for Your Community Members

Multi-language and translation functionality

✔

       

✔

Search functionality

✔

✔

✔

✔

 

✔

Personalized content recommendations

✔

✔

       

Follow specific users

✔

✔

   

✔

 

Filesharing

✔

✔

✔

✔

   

Social sharing

✔

 

✔

✔

   

Mobile Accessible

✔

✔

     

✔

Mobile app

 

✔

     

✔

Hosting Your Community Platform on WordPress v. HubSpot CMS

If you’re considering Buddypress alternatives, you’re likely going the route of incorporating your community site into your core website. Ok, so which overall community software is the best fit for you? Great question; we adore this question.

WordPress is a blank canvas website builder that offers a library of over 55,000 plug-ins to customize your website. It is only a content management system.

HubSpot is a customer relationship management platform with the tools to manage content, sales, customer service, operations, and marketing. The various hubs are all hosted within HubSpot, not external plugins. 

We talked earlier about the problem with the “if it’s free, it’s for me” mentality. WordPress is known colloquially as the “free” solution, but our investigation has shown some hidden fees you should be aware of if you choose to go this route. 

Basic doesn’t always mean user-friendly. WordPress’s blank canvas means adding on plugins to layer in SEO, forms, landing pages, and tools. All of these external plugins can require a developer to fix and update regularly. Additionally, you may see longer load times, which is a red flag for search engines and therefore SEO.

Design tools should feel as good as the end-product looks.  Plugins and the need for a developer can make creating the WordPress site of your dreams take a bit longer than your timeline or staff capacity can allow. HubSpot’s CMS Hub uses a drag-and-drop editor that brings a “what you see is what you get” feel. 

Reliable customer support is a must.  Depending on your hosting route, your WordPress support will look different in method and quality. Generic hosts may not understand the nuances of marketing strategy and lead capture. HubSpot support is honored for its customer support annually with options ranging from email, chat, phone, and peer community. 

You can start for free and scale up within HubSpot as your company scales. You can start for free with WordPress and constantly add plugin after plugin after plugin to customize your needs. 

Read more about the differences between WordPress and HubSpot here. ←

Building Your Community Platform in HubSpot With cohortium

While other solutions have unexpected development costs or hidden fees or nightmare usability or even security issues, cohortium does it all. 

By marrying a first-class CRM with an easy-to-use CMS, cohortium creates a home within HubSpot so your users can enjoy expected features and your team can understand what will make your users’ experience even better. 

Cohortium brings context to community. And with that context, you and your company can grow smarter. 

Enough talk. Why don’t you step inside? We invite you to take a test drive of cohortium to see the possibilities for yourself.

 

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