Vanilla Forums Cloud Software January Updates

It’s been a busy January here at Vanilla Forums, with our developers working hard on a major new release for our cloud product. If you’re a cloud customer, you’ll be automatically updated to the newest version. The complete changelist is at the bottom of this post, but here are a few highlights:

Emoji support improved & expanded to additional sets of emoji:

Everyone loves emoji, and now our support for them is better than ever. With our new Emoji Sets plugin, it’s simple to pick the emoji that are right for your community. With the plugin activated, the settings page will look like this:

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Community Managers and Moderators: What’s the Difference?

A recent incident in a large community where a small number of moderators went rogue led me to believe that more needs to be said about the difference between a community manager and a moderator. There’s still confusion in some areas about the difference between the two, and this confusion, in the right circumstances, can lead to bedlam. I can’t be the only community manager who hears “oh right, so you delete comments and stuff?” whenever I tell people what I do for a living. Obviously this can be personally frustrating, but it can also cause professional difficulties for people in both roles. Some businesses expect a moderator to do the work of a CM, without giving them the pay, resources or support to do so. Others are pretty sure that all a CM does is “delete comments and stuff”, and dismiss the need for one based on that. Given the pressing need for both roles in modern marketing, businesses that take this stance are likely to be left in the dust. So what’s the difference?

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Your Community ROI Could Be Higher Than You Think

Depending on how you measure the effectiveness of your community, you might be overlooking some of the ROI that it provides you. For example, forum visitors – those people who lurk but never register or post – can account for up to 90% (or more) of your traffic. This passive majority still benefits immensely and contributes to the return on your investment.
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Are You Selling a Product or a Membership Fee?

Conventional thinking is that customer communities are put in place to help users of a product share ideas and support each other. Smart businesses are realizing that communities can be a powerful competitive advantage, and in some cases even more valuable than the product itself.

I recently spoke to a startup founder who told me that his first hire was not going be a developer or salesperson but a community manager. He felt that if he could build a community before launching his product, he would have i) a captive group of enthusiastic potential customers and ii) a defensible competitive advantage if competitors launched a similar product. Continue reading

The 4 Things Learned Migrating Hundreds of Forums

moving-houseMigrating to new forum software can be a daunting prospect, but sometimes necessary. After migrating hundreds of communities from dozens of platforms to Vanilla, here are a few things we’ve learned:

Properly preparing the community is vital

Making a major change to your community software is always challenging for your membership. People become comfortable with the status quo, even if that status quo involves slow, outdated software that is gradually falling apart. It’s important to be aware of this, and to make sure that community reactions are kept in mind during the migrations process. A common thread of hassle-free migrations is asking yourself how the community will be effected at each step.
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