Many membership community creators are turning from Facebook and Mighty Networks to Circle to build a strong online community. Circle is pretty easy to use, and has a suite of features that make it great for community building. We've put together this guide to give you some insight into the platform, tell you when it's right to use Circle.so as a community manager, show how you can get the most out of your experience on the platform, and explain how you can build your own community with Circle.so.
Circle.so is a community platform. It's designed to help you build an active community and keep them connected. If you're a content creator, you'll love the many different formats of posts that Circle allows. But community really isn't about content, it's about creating and strengthening connections between members.
As a community creator on Circle, you can create spaces and restrict access or leave it open. Inside the space you can create groups. The groups can be highly customized –– each space group can host different content, in different formats, with different access and notification controls.
In our opinion, paid membership communities are the best use case for Circle.so. We've seen brand communities, non-profit communities, clubs, and groups do well on Circle, but paid membership communities tend to do the best. If you have a free Facebook group, you'll find Circle is a lot different. Because Circle communities live on their own domain, you'll need to put in some extra work re-engaging your community members.
Here are the membership communities we see doing quite well on circle:
Using Circle is fairly easy if you've ever used Facebook or Slack before. It feels like a (better) combo of the two — the buttons are where you expect them to be. The channel/space layouts make sense. They haven't tried to mess around and be "too original" with the user interface. Soapbox members hardly have questions about how to use our community, beyond not being sure where to post stuff or if they're allowed to — and that is up to me to make more clear. The product itself just makes sense. - Nivi Achanta, Why I chose Circle for my membership community
There are a ton of community platforms out there, many of them with similar features. Here's a list of unique Circle features that may tempt you to move your community to Circle (or start your community on Circle!).
With Paywalls on Circle, you can:
Circle's live stream feature allows you to interact with up to 10 co-hosts and 500 participants on both the web and the iOS app.
I've helped many communities build member directories in Notion or Airtable, so it's nice to see Circle's Member Directory feature. Members can update their profiles, and have lots of options for searching for other community members.
Some platforms claim to be all-in-one. But this often makes them hard to use with the other, more flexible tools you use to run your community business. Circle can integrate into your existing website, with Teachable or Kajabi, and with operations tools like Zapier, Make, and of course, Burb!
You can get a pretty modern community site set up quickly with Circle, and customize your brand colors and domain. If you have more resources to invest, you can really customize the look and feel of your Circle community by hiring a developer. We love the look of the Quench Collective's community above!
Want to plug a community conversation on a blog post, or page of your website? Super easy to do!
For example – at DesignCuts.com if we have a blog article talking about the power of sharing your creative work that’s getting a ton of traffic – we can natively embed the ‘share your work’ space of our Circle community right below that post. It’s seamless and I’m so excited to roll this out across our website. - Tom Ross, CIRCLE.SO REVIEW: A BRUTALLY HONEST REVIEW OF THE COMMUNITY PLATFORM
Compared to other community platforms, we find the Circle platform pretty affordable. Have a look at their pricing plans below.
Yes, Circle is a community platform, but this is a great time to take stock of where you host content and conversations. Circle spaces are pretty flexible, and you can host content within them by turning off replies and pinning a single 'post' to the space. We've seen course builders host entire courses that were once on Kajabi inside a Circle space with a little creativity. Very cool!
We suggest starting with one Space Group and keeping things simple. If you have an existing community, start small by inviting only a dozen or so members into the space to test it out before you invite everyone else!
We suggest creating an onboarding campaign using Burb's automations builder. This could be a series of direct messages you set up that are triggered when a new member joins. Check in on this member for at least the first few weeks or months to make sure they're getting the most out of your new community. You can collect ideas and feedback in these messages, too!
Since your Circle community will live on it's own platform, you'll have to do a little extra work to bring your community members back into the space. Coming up with weekly themed posts (which you can automate through Burb), dropping premium and exclusive content only in the community space, and creating a communtiy newsletter can help you with this.
Often we are stuck creating strategy, pushing content, looking at engagement numbers. And one thing we often forget is that connecting with others can be fun! Don't shy away from talking about random or silly life moments, playing games, or being a bit spontaneous. Lively energy will draw your members in and make them feel like this is a place they can be themselves.
We met Suvi Gluskin, Seesaw's Head of Community and Angela Gadtke, Community Founder, a few months ago and we were immediately impressed with the community strategy...
From lead to student, and from student to super-fan, we recently partnered with Julia Saxena on this 3-part workshop series to help course creators unlock community-driven success and growth.