Why we don’t use Facebook or LinkedIn Groups any more (and here’s what we do instead)

By Mark Jones

February 24, 2024


In today's Newsletter, I'm wanted to share how we've harnessed the power of Circle to deliver a community learning platform for all of our members in the Collab365 Academy Members Site.

Our two-year journey with Circle has enabled us to offer a comprehensive range of training materials, from on-demand workshops and courses to summit sessions and eBooks. We've successfully integrated this training content with all the features you would anticipate in a 2024 Community.

the collab365 academy members forum

the collab365 academy members forum

At the time of choosing Circle, we had some big decisions to make and problems to overcome, so thought I'd share in the hope you'd can learn a thing of two 😀

We already had an existing e-commerce and LMS platform:

When we decided to transition to Circle, we faced a significant challenge: integrating our sophisticated WooCommerce sales system and LMS (LearnDash) with Circle to ensure smooth access to learning materials and community spaces.

At the time of our move, Circle did not support taking payments for single, one-off purchases. After extensive deliberation and development efforts, we designed a custom synchronization solution that aligns LearnDash Groups with Circle Spaces, with LearnDash at the forefront. Utilizing a custom-developed PHP plugin and the Circle API, we created a tool that synchronizes LearnDash Groups with Circle Spaces. Consequently, when an individual purchases training, they are added to a LearnDash Group, which is then synchronized with Circle.

We wanted to celebrate members who received our certifications:

Right from the start, it was crucial for us to find a way to celebrate the achievements of our members. Rather than creating something outside of Circle, we opted for a custom Space known as the Wall of Fame. Now, when a member completes a course, they are recognized as follows:

collab365 academy wall of fame

collab365 academy wall of fame

The Wall of Fame stands as a testament to achievement, celebrating those who've soared to new heights of certification and inspiring others to reach for the stars.

Why we chose Circle over a Facebook Group:

Our choice to partner with Circle was deliberate, driven by a desire for greater control, enhanced privacy, and a dedicated, distraction-free environment.

Facebook, even though we ran massive groups already, could not offer the depth of customization, moderation tools, or the focused community atmosphere that Circle provides. Our dedicated platform supports a richer, more connected learning experience, free from the noise and distractions of social media.

  1. Empowering Control and Customization: With Circle, the reins of the community's design and functionality firmly rest in our hands. This autonomy allows us to craft a space that's not only seamless and intuitive for our members but also a true reflection of our brand's ethos. The constraints of Facebook's layout and stringent guidelines pale in comparison to the bespoke experience we can create with Circle.
  2. Enhanced Moderation Tools: The bedrock of any thriving community is how well it is moderated. Circle's robust suite of moderation tools has empowered us to cultivate a respectful and enriching environment. From flagging inappropriate content to managing memberships with ease, these tools ensure our community remains a safe and vibrant space for all. Facebook's limited moderation capabilities simply couldn't meet the high standards we set for our community.
  3. Prioritizing Privacy: In an era where data privacy concerns loom large, Circle offers us the ability to safeguard our members' information with far greater efficacy. This commitment to privacy fosters a trust that is crucial for sensitive or specialized communities. Facebook's checkered past with data privacy underscores the importance of choosing a platform that aligns with our values.
  4. Focused and Engaged Community: Circle's structure enables us to center our community around specific topics or purposes, enhancing member engagement and participation. This focus is often diluted on Facebook, where the vast sea of content can distract and detract from the community's core objectives.
  5. Unmatched Flexibility: The flexibility Circle offers is unparalleled, providing us with the tools to integrate various applications and tailor our community precisely to our vision. This level of customization ensures that our community is not just a space for interaction but a dynamic ecosystem that evolves with our members' needs. The limitations of Facebook in this regard are evident, constraining what we can achieve.
  6. Ad-Free Experience: One of Circle's most liberating features is its ad-free environment, allowing for undistracted engagement and content consumption. In contrast, Facebook's ad-driven model often sidelines community content in favor of keeping users engaged with ad-generating posts.
  7. Looking Beyond the Horizon: Anchoring a community on Facebook carries the risk of its dwindling popularity impacting engagement. The rise of platforms like TikTok highlights the transient nature of social media trends. Building our community on Circle is a forward-thinking strategy, ensuring our members have a consistent and enduring space to connect, far from the shifting sands of social media trends.
  8. Embracing Circle for a Brighter Community Future: The transition to Circle is not just a change of platform; it's a commitment to fostering a community that's rich in engagement, privacy, and personalized experiences. As we continue to grow and evolve, the benefits of Circle become ever more apparent, from the granular control it offers to the focused interaction it fosters. For those contemplating the foundations of their own communities, consider not just the platform of today but the legacy you wish to build for tomorrow.In essence, while platforms like Facebook have their place in the digital ecosystem, the depth, control, and engagement offered by dedicated platforms like Circle present a compelling case for those looking to cultivate a vibrant and enduring community.

What's next for our Collab365 Academy?

As we continue to evolve and expand our offerings, Circle's release cadence and roadmap has been very impressive. We're not even using everything they offer, but intened to look deeper. Whether it's through enhanced live workshops, more intimate coaching sessions, or even more personalized learning paths, we're just scratching the surface of what's possible.

For example, we currently Microsoft Teams for all of our "live delivery" but Circles own meeting system has really grown up, so we intend to start trialling it in the near future.

an example of circle courses

an example of circle courses

Another example, all of Courses are currently delivered in a seperate site using Learndash, but Circle have now introduced courses and they look stunning. The only thing holding us back is the migration effort required and also Circle doesn't support quizzes which are key for our workflow.

Invitation to Join Us:

If you're curious about what makes the Collab365 Academy a unique place to learn and connect, there's never been a better time to explore. Our community is not just about acquiring new skills; it's about creating meaningful connections, sharing knowledge, and growing together.

Join the Collab365 Academy, free.

We can't wait to welcome you into our vibrant community. Let's embark on this learning journey together, supported by a platform that truly understands the value of community and connection.

Interested in road-testing Circle? Try Circle free for 14-days

Mark Jones

About Mark Jones

My goal is to help 1000 Microsoft experts have more freedom by selling their skills, working from wherever they choose.

To achieve this, I want to help educate via these sites:

👉 Collab365 Summits - Massive virtual conferences for Microsoft products
👉 Collab365 Today - Aggregation site for the best community blogs
👉 Collab365 Community - Huge blog site including plenty of Microsoft content

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