Product Community vs. the Social Community: Which Is Better?

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Art by Laura Wilson – http://lauramakesart.com/

The product focused community:  the hard sell approach

A product focused community will typically have a lower tolerance for off-topic discussion than a “social” community. These communities will normally be focused on support, product questions and discussions with existing owners. The main selling factor of these forums is aspirational, a prospective customer can read about your product, interact with existing owners and begin to develop a Gollum/One Ring style relationship with it. For a great example of this, you need look no further than the official Tesla forums. All content is product focused, and as a heavily aspirational brand it benefits hugely from this. With premium priced products such as this (or say, Apple products), customers will also be keen to talk to each other about how great your product is and reinforce the wisdom of their own decision to pay more. In communities like this, a wider focus and chatty atmosphere would detract from the value of the forum. They benefit from a tight focus and controlled environment.
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Friday Theme Tip: Customizing Categories

We know you spend time making sure you create the proper categories for your community, but did you know you can customize things further? In the following article, we will show you two ways to make your categories have some personality.

Adding Category Images

To make your categories stand out, you can add an image to add a visual cue to the category name. You can do this at the time you create the category, or come back later to add one. Continue reading

Introducing Topic and Sentiment Analytics

Introducing Topic and Sentiment Analytics

A community forum can provide a tremendous amount of insight and feedback across many areas of your business. Extracting insights from unstructured text data in thousands of comments can be a challenging task for community managers. This new analytic capability uses natural language processing technology to identify popular forum discussion topics, the sentiment associated with those topics, as well as user sentiment.

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Friday Theme Tip: If Statements and Variables

A Vanilla Forums theme is highly flexible. One way you can take advantage of this can be by using if statements and variables. In the past we covered how this can be used with pockets, but we’d like to dig a bit deeper. Please note, what will follow is very powerful and you should not attempt this unless you are comfortable with editing code. Improper use can cause your forum to have issues, so please tread carefully.
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Should you soft launch your community?

Community launch

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of launching a community is the moment where it actually goes online. All your preparations are finally tested, your plans go into action and your users step, blinking, into the glorious light of your new community. A lot can go wrong. Your moderators could become befuddled by the interface, your categories may turn out to be confusing or redundant, your theme might aggravate the eyeballs of your userbase. The list of potential hiccups is endless. Given how hard it can be to rescue a community once it starts going south, it’s understandable to look for a way to manage that risk. Soft launching can be a good way to do this. In the simplest terms, a soft launch is opening your community to a limited number of users to test and perfect before opening them to the larger community. In software terms, it’s similar to a closed beta.
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