Gone are the days when Facebook groups are the only place to start and build an online community as creators.
There are now several online community platforms for creators that allow you to ditch Facebook and build a community you own without fear of being banned or deleted from the network.
One of the several online community platforms is Circle.so
While doing my research for online community platforms that fitness trainers could use, I came across Circle.so.
I tried out the software, and here is my review of how it performs compared to other online community software in the market.
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
Overview of Circle.so
Circle.so is an online course and community builder platform. It’s an alternative to other platforms like Kajabi and Teachable.
You can switch your existing community from Facebook or other social media sites to Circle.
And it has many nifty tools for managing your online courses and communities.
Online courses and communities built with Circle.so look very professional, and we can thank the platform’s UI for that.
But the apple pie here is that once you’ve paid for the platform, it is entirely yours in name and branding.
It will look like your very own website or platform built from scratch. In short, you can rebrand the software as your own.
When examining the platform, I was pretty sure that the creators of the site did their homework well.
They provide all the tools needed for the three major sides of every business, namely: creation, engagement, and monetization.
So there, you have an all-in-one tool for course creators.
Circle.so has a learning curve that is more level than steep. We owe that to the free “Circle for Circle Creators Community.”
It is the tutorial section of the app that contains demos of the tool in action.
Fans of software with lots of integrations with other tools will take to Circle.so.
The tool integrates with payment processors like ThriveCart and Shopify, email marketing tools like ConvertKit and MailChimp, and what have you.
The list of integrations is almost endless, as Zapier is among them. And that’s a whole world already.
Courses and communities built on Circle.so follow a group and spaces format. Think of it like how your chats and conversations are organized on Facebook.
Each person’s chat is an entirely different category from another person’s chats with you.
That’s how the groups or courses work on Circle.so.
It is inside these groups that we have the spaces. These are like your conversation inside a person’s chat room with you.
So if the courses and the communities are the chats, then the spaces (posts or events) are the “conversation” inside the chats.
And like in WhatsApp, community moderators or admins can choose to let members post in the groups, or they can choose to turn that off.
You can also regulate who can be admitted into the groups.
Who is Circle.so Meant For?
Circle.so is meant for anybody aiming to establish a robust online community and make money selling courses and coaching programs. As long as you have content in any form to publish, you can use Circle.
Even if you’ve been using a social media platform for your courses and community, Circle can be a replacement or complement.
Some examples of Circle use cases are:
Circle users benefit from being able to host coaching sessions for their audience or group members.
Coaching is one of the templates you will be asked to select from when setting up your community.
You can pass your lessons in any format. Text or video, they are all supported.
Or you can choose to go live and have a fully interactive session complete with Q/A, live chat, and group coaching calls.
There is also the luxury of recording your sessions for replay if any of your subscribers missed the live event.
Since coaching communities are a great way to establish a strong online presence, you shouldn’t hesitate to use them as soon as possible.
If online courses are your way to go, then Circle can help you run faster.
With the help of Circle, you can set up courses with an introduction and as many modules as you like.
The platform has a specific template for course communities. Additionally, you can create paywalls that grant access only to paying members and others who fulfill your criteria.
Paywalls can include monthly, annual, or one-off pricing options, and you can offer coupons or free trials.
There are customization options for making your brand stand out, such as brand color, logo, and domain.
Newsletters are among the things that Circle can help you with. You don’t need any coding experience to set up email automation. The whole work has been done.
All you need to do is collect your contact details and set up recurring sequences.
Circle can be used to hold conference communities and can even replace conference tools like Zoom.
With conference communities, you can bring together many communities and speak to a large audience at once.
They are handy when you want to inform your customers of a major change or upgrade in your services.
Customer communities help you build deep relationships with your customers.
They also allow customers to connect with each other.
They are the kind of communities you form when you want to get product feedback, reduce customer support inbound and build advocates for life.
Clubs and Organizations
If you want to build clubs and organizations, you can do it on Circle. Just bring your people together to organize, share ideas, run events, and collaborate.
And you can do all of that without worrying about Circle’s branding gimmicks getting in the way.
What We Like About Circle.so Membership Platform
Circle is complete software for the job it does. Many things can attract potential users to it. And in many ways as well, it sets itself apart from the competition.
I especially like the user interface and how easy it is to start using the platform.
The ease of setting up courses and integrating with payment gateways and email providers is also noteworthy.
But that’s just the beginning. Read on for more features that can endear the platform to content creators and subscribers.
1. Classic Interface
Circle is one of those platforms that has a beautiful user interface.
Even if you leave it in its default format, you might be okay with its design.
That said, it has plenty of customization options.
I’ve said this before, but I need to reiterate it. Circle is free of all those embarrassing self-promotions and company branding so that you can make the platform all yours.
2. Nice App Experience
Circle does have a mobile app, and the experience on it is worth phoning home about.
The app makes it easier for your subscribers to jump into your modules, watch videos, listen to audio recordings, and view discussions and PDFs.
The only dealbreaker here is that there’s no Android version of the app. But there are high hopes that it is in progress.
3. Community Support
The community support on Circle is remarkable. You can learn a lot about the platform just by interacting with the community.
The community comprises Circle creators like you and includes tabs that allow you to flaunt your achievements.
It is in the community that you can also stay abreast of the latest announcements and events.
4. Content & Resources
For content & resources, you can’t go wrong with Circle.
The resources tab is where you’ll find all the help you can get aside from the community.
It contains a video library, valuable insight from Circle experts, and tutorials.
The video library contains videos that can serve as templates for your own if you want none of the stress of building from scratch.
5. Group Chat Rooms
Group chat makes you enjoy what social media users have been using for long.
You can form as many groups as you want and then use them to form customer-customer relationships and creator-customer bonds.
Through these group chats, you can drop information like updates to your business policies, thriller, foreglimpse of your upcoming products, etc.
You can make the groups public or private and even lock the group for only admins to drop messages.
6. Live Streams
If you want to go live on YouTube, you can embed a link from a third-party platform like YouTube, LiveStream, or Vimeo.
There is no in-house video hosting platform on Circle, but I expect that to be added soon.
If there is an area that Circle earns a perfect score on, it is integration.
Circle integrates well with a ton of other third-party platforms, such as payment systems and email providers.
And by now, it’s no longer news that integration with Zapier, which Circle supports, makes way for an almost endless list of integration.
8. Single Sign-On (SSO)
Single sign-on is a feature that defines a stellar software experience. You only need a set of login credentials to access multiple applications and websites.
On Circle, you can start a process on the web and continue it in the app.
9. Rich Posts
With Circle, your posts can be more meaningful.
You can use eye-catching formatting and include lightweight media.
You can also add emojis to express all ranges of emotions for a clear message.
What is more, you can add favorite links to your favorite third-party apps. Once your recipients click on the link, they are immediately prompted to open the app or download it.
What We Don’t Like About Circle.so
While Circle ticks many boxes, it isn’t quite a perfect software. It tries at what it does but could do better.
Or, to put it more simply, it does what it’s meant to do really well and puts up a good fight in other areas.
And what Circle is meant to be is a community platform, but it also does an excellent job at being an online course platform.
So here are four things that it doesn’t do very well:
Without mincing words, Circle is expensive, at least compared to other tools in its niche.
Thus, it might not be suitable for an entrepreneur who doesn’t have a thriving group.
But the pricing might not mean much if you have a lively group bringing much income.
#2. No Native Option for Live Stream
If you want to air a live performance via Circle, you must embed a link from another video hosting platform like YouTube.
For a platform of Circle’s caliber, this is not supposed to be an issue. Nevertheless, it’s a platform in progress, and we expect them to make improvements in this area.
#3 Limited Number of Presets
On Circle, one major limitation is that there are so many settings and adjustments to make before you do anything.
Limiting access to certain members or removing the ability to comment can be quite a task.
I wish things were more simplified to just a few clicks or so.
#4 No Android App
Circle’s mobile app provides a laudable user experience but is limited to just iOS for now.
Maybe the app developers are having some trouble with an Android implementation. Still, we look forward to seeing any issue resolved so that Android users can finally have a version of the app meant for them.
Circle.so, no doubt, is an excellent alternative to other social media platforms, but its feature set might not be precisely what you are looking for.
For instance, other platforms do better in the aspect of hosting courses.
Others have a dedicated video hosting function and allow you to do more with fewer clicks.
And now, we’ll go ahead and review two of the popular alternatives.
Mighty Networks is a course platform and community builder founded by three people, Gina Bianchini, Tim Herby, and Thomas Aaron.
Mighty Networks allows you to do as much as possible with its community building and management features.
You can create course communities, bring your social media followers in one place, host weekly events, and yes, they even have an in-house video hosting platform.
And then, you can build websites and mobile apps to bring all of your creations and followers together.
An outstanding feature of Mighty Network is the amount of insight it gives on building high-achieving communities.
An example of that is how Mighty Networks collects data from hundreds of thousands of booming communities since when it started.
Using these data, Mighty Networks feeds you information such as how much to charge for your membership fees.
It even helps you know how much content you really need for your first online course.
Mighty Network can be a handy guide if you are going all out on courses and communities.
Here are some differences between Circle and Mighty Networks.
- Mighty Networks allows you to have an unlimited number of members, unlike Circle.
- With Mighty Networks, you can host an unlimited number of online courses. (Advantages of being a dedicated online course platform)
- On Circle, you cannot have the personalized feed per member feature, but it is present on Mighty Networks.
- Mighty Networks also allows more flexibility with membership plans, courses, and groups.
Mighty Network’s pricing is in three stages, the business plan, community plan, and Mighty Pro.
The first two plans are billed at $119 and 39$, respectively or $99 and $33 when you choose annual payments.
The Mighty Pro is flexible, and the billing will be negotiated when business owners contact support.
Another of Circle’s alternatives is Passion.io. Passion.io is a platform that you can use to create apps and communities. It has a combo of features that make it worthy of consideration.
First of all, any app you build with Passion will be compatible with any device, whether mobile or desktop, Android or iOS.
You can build interactive communities within your apps and live stream when you want to go live.
Passion.io also contains excellent marketing tools. These tools help you to,
- Calculate your income.
- Run install campaigns to get your apps on more devices.
- Build app sales funnels
- Increase revenue per customer by creating upsell journeys.
- And reach new audiences by selling through global app stores.
The platform even gives users a lot of training to help them get more clients fast.
One key difference between Circle and Passion is that while Circle’s focus is online communities, Passion helps you build your own apps where you can do more than just build communities.
Passion.io has another win. It has a native video hosting platform. So you can live stream without embedding links from third-party video hosting apps.
Passion.io has three categories of pricing. You can get discounts with the annual subscriptions.
The categories are Pro, Ultimate, and Ultimate Plus.
The first two plans will set you back by $99 and $279 respectively or ,$79 and $239 respectively.
From the pricing, you can see it is way pricier than Circle.so.
To learn more about Passion.io, you can read my review article here
Circle.so is a popular company and has garnered mainly popular reviews on the best review sites.
Check out some of the reviews below:
Circle.so Pricing – How Much Does It Cost?
Circle offers three paid plans: basic, professional, and enterprise.
The breakdown is given below.
- Basic— $39 monthly
- Professional— $99 monthly
- Enterprise— $399 monthly
All plans come with a 14-day free trial offer so you can test out all their features.
As a quick note, the custom plan comes with the benefit of having a dedicated customer success manager.
Wrapping Up – Do We Recommend It?
Absolutely yes! If you are coming from another social media platform or are just building one, Circle has got you covered.
The software shines for its simple user interface and comprehensive guides on getting around the software and setting up your business.
Its customer engagement features are also remarkable. You can even set up newsletters in the form of weekly digests to keep updating your customers.
It may not be as robust as Mighty Networks or as feature-packedPassion.io, but it is good at what it does.
FAQs about Circle.so
As is the case with any platform, online or physical, a crucial part of the decision-making process is getting answers to common questions.
I’ve isolated some of these questions together with their answers. Please, have a look at them.
Is Circle a good platform?
Yes, it is. When it comes to creating and managing your online community, you won’t be losing in any big way if you choose Circle.
There are some flaws here and there when it comes to hosting online courses such as the limited number of presets and long video upload times, but that’s about it.
The only major con is that it is expensive in relation to its competitors.
Can you live stream in Circle.so?
Yes, but for that, you need to embed a link from a third-party video hosting platform like YouTube or Vimeo
Who created Circle.so?
Circle.so is a collective effort by Sid Yadav and Andrew Gutteromsen.
They are experienced entrepreneurs who have worked in various positions in top companies. They both worked with Teachable before coming together to build Circle.
Does Circle integrate with Kajabi?
Circle doesn’t come with in-house integration with Kajabi. But that’s not a problem since Circle can link to Kajabi through its Zapier integration.