Internal vs External Community: Which One Should You Choose?

Establishing and nurturing a community for your business can take up valuable resources but companies continue to leverage them to remain competitive. As an experiment, a company hid their community platform for four months to see how it would affect their organization. The results speak for themselves. They discovered that it was 72 percent cheaper to use their community channels to provide support while customer satisfaction scores reached their lowest point in history.

Follow us as we dive deeper into the benefits of community-building, how internal communities are different from external ones, and case studies where organizations built and nurtured communities for business success.


Benefits of Community Platforms for Businesses

The first online community was born over 30 years ago. Called “Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link” or WELL, it gave readers and writers of the Whole Earth Review magazine a place to connect and exchange ideas and it still exists today!

In the decades that followed, business greats and start-ups continued to use community platforms for brand-building and engagement. 

Let’s take a look at how some fledgling businesses mobilized the power of community.



Launched in 2013, Porch wanted to make finding home improvement professionals easier for US homeowners. By introducing a simple and easy-to-use web-based interface, homeowners could enter a few details about what they needed and instantly receive a list of recommended professional contractors from across the country.

Porch’s network has since expanded to include home insurance companies, moving companies, and real estate professionals. They’ve amassed more than 11,000 partners who use the platform for their business.

The company estimates that Porch is part of 2 out of every 3 new home acquisitions in the United States. The company was also featured in Cloudways’ list of startups to watch out for in 2022.



Launched in 2015, Figma is a community platform that allows artists and designers from around the world to work with each other. For the first time, groups of designers could work on a single design file through the internet. It enabled a community that was collaborative, borderless, transparent, community-driven, and open-sourced.

Considered to be design’s hottest startup, Figma was valued at $10 billion as of August 2021. With users working at huge companies like Netflix, AirBNB, Zoom, and Discord, Figma’s success shows how collaboration and community are massive selling points for any platform to be successful.



Ryan Hoover, the founder and CEO of ProductHunt, wasn’t deterred by his lack of technical knowledge when he decided to create a tech-based company. What started as a simple email list where investors and friends could track the latest and coolest tech products soon turned into an established community platform.

Today, ProductHunt is a community where people can engage with their teams and discover new products. It has several thousand monthly users and was sold for $20 million to AngelList!

Communities can do so much more than spark discussions. They can make employees and customers feel heard and valued, and bring people together. This in turn can reduce turnover, increase brand loyalty, improve productivity, encourage collaboration, and produce bottom line results.

Internal and external communities exist for all companies whether or not they’ve learned to leverage them. However, if you’re tight on resources and time, you may have wondered which to prioritize first. 


Benefits of External and Internal Communities

Your internal community will have different needs and will require different information and interactions with your organization. 

Here’s how you stand to benefit from each type of community.


Why Have an External Community?

In most cases, the bulk of your external community will be your customers. This will be further divided and targeted based on your industry and what you’re selling.

The conversation in an external community is usually aimed at increasing brand awareness and customer reach to ultimately increase revenue.

Cultivating external communities has certain benefits.

  • It provides an avenue for the efficient compilation and distribution of information from your organization to its external stakeholders.
  • It facilitates and encourages the exchange of information, data, and feedback between different groups, creating more varied dialogue around shared interests.


From a marketing perspective, external communities can be highly beneficial. However, they fail to provide the same sense of unity or teamwork that internal communities do.


Why Have an Internal Community?

Internal communities are branded communities that a company can self-host or be built as part of a company’s website or mobile app.

Companies, including startups are sitting up and taking notice of the value that internal communities provide. This is because internal communities are extremely helpful in achieving startups’ major goals which are to grow user engagement while increasing retention. 

An in-app community platform can provide you with multiple venues for these by:

  • Increasing engagement. Users can have a venue to discuss your products and services, participate in any promotional and community events that you may have, and interact with the brand. Communities can ultimately increase internal engagement and reduce turnover.
  • Providing feedback for improvement. When it comes to new products and services, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint areas for improvement. With an internal community, you have an audience that’s ready to share their insights, pain points, and give you their feedback. 
  • Easy to integrate. Because of services like Tribally, platforms for internal communities are easy to set up and integrate with your organization’s infrastructure. You can quickly start using its features without worrying about creating one from scratch.
  • You don’t have to give away your traffic to Facebook. Instead, you can have all the social network features right in your app.
  • Easy to create posts. With a few clicks, your internal community can start creating posts and engaging with each other.
  • Venue for communication. Internal communities give users a place to exchange ideas, have discussions, and make suggestions.
  • Reach out to users for product interviews. Need more information on how a product is doing? You can interview your internal community, set up polls and ask questions for more in-depth answers.


An internal community platform can provide you with access to the people who can give you instant feedback and can empower you to address any issues early on. This becomes even more important when the issues are related to recent organizational changes and current products or services that have just been introduced to the market.

Don’t underestimate the internal community. If you take the time to cultivate, retain, and engage your users, you’ll find it easier to achieve your goals and develop even further.


Which One Should You Choose?

  • Internal and external communities are both important. Each provides unique advantages. Between the two, however, a company must prioritize its internal community first as part of its efforts to get its own house in order. 
  • By developing and growing a strong internal community, a business can hone its products and services before engaging external stakeholders.
  • Organizations can also carry over best practices from cultivating the internal group and its other benefits to later establish a more effective and engaging external community.


If you’re looking for successful examples of internal communities, look no further than the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).


Supporting US School Counselors With SCENE 

The American School Counselor Association is dedicated to providing school counselors across the United States with help in their work with school children. Their internal community platform known as SCENE is an extension of ASCA’s objectives and provides counselors with online community support. 

From initially having 19,000 active members in the free community, the organization’s membership has grown to over 30,000 paying members. 

SCENE enables members to share content and files such as lesson plans, school programs, and achievements.

It also provides support by providing a venue for open discussions about the latest teaching methods, best practices, problem-solving, sharing of interesting information such as studies, and exchanging ideas.


Final Thoughts

  • In the digital age, communities have become more defined and tight-knit. They’ve also become easier to target and engage. 
  • While internal and external communities are vital, it makes more sense to prioritize internal community engagement before external community development.
  • This allows a company to work on its products and services first before reaching out to external stakeholders. Once the company has a cohesive, collaborative, and productive culture, it will be in a better position to reach out and engage external parties.
  • One of the quickest ways you can get an internal community up and running is by using ready-made platforms that have already been developed. A great example is the community platforms that Tribally provides its clients. 
  • Tribally is an all-in-one community platform for business that gives employees an online venue for sharing discussions, collaborations, and ideas. In as little as 30 minutes, you can have your own platform like Humana and ASCA by using Tribally’s services. 
  • Tribally is available on computers and mobile phones so employees can have several ways to interact with each other. It features a user-friendly and intuitive feed with content generated by your community that can be shared on messengers and social networks.
  • While there are many companies offering similar services, Tribally’s service is one of the best and easiest to implement if you’re looking to leverage and engage your internal community.

Elementor #900

Internal vs External Community: Which One Should You Choose? Establishing and nurturing a community for your business can take up valuable resources but companies continue to leverage them to...

Elementor #768

Sensera Finds “Free Ambassadors”and Enjoys Improved Retention After Incorporating Tribally In-app Feed Let’s face it: no one is immune to everyday’s stress and hassle, and it wouldn’t hurt to...

Made in California

©  2021-2022 Tribally Ltd