Increasing Forum Traffic with Vanilla Comments

We’ve been getting a lot of very positive feedback about the recent release of our Vanilla Comments feature. So far, the thing that people find most exciting about it is how it leverages all of the expense (time and money) already invested in gaining traction on their blog.

Blog vs Forum Traffic

For most sites, the blog is the main destination for inbound/new users, and depending on the size & shape of the company behind that blog, they may have invested large amounts of money and/or time generating the content, outreach, and methodologies for getting new & repeat visitors. If the web property has a community platform for their users, typically none of those efforts are aimed at driving visitors to the community itself. Everything drives towards the central properly: the blog. The difficulty most sites have is: how can I get my visitors engaged on my community?

Sure, as illustrated above, there will naturally be some organic SEO that drives traffic to the community, and there will also be some inbound traffic from RSS & social bookmarks (assuming the forum platform has these features). But the remainder of the traffic comes from the blog itself. So, what drives that traffic?

If you’re really lucky, your forum platform gives you some method for putting widgets in the sidebar of your blog to show things like recent discussions, recently active users, recent activity, etc. But unless you’re a Vanilla forum owner, chances are you would have to custom code that, too. So what’s left? A link in the main menu? That’s it?

With Vanilla comments, every user who decides to leave a comment on your blog post is immediately a member of your community. They get all of the same notifications, badges, rewards, and other awesome engagement power that comes with Vanilla. When the first comment is added to a blog post using Vanilla Comments, a discussion is created in the forum. That discussion links back to the blog post, and all of the comments in the blog are mirrored in that discussion.

Vanilla Comments

Since the Vanilla Comments release a few weeks ago, we’ve already seen blogs that didn’t even have a forum explode with instant community – their members saying things like:

“It really does look Amazing. Thanks 9to5, look forward to seeing where the Forums goes, and i like how the comments and forums are integrated! Keep up the good work!”

“This site is awesome! The best forum that I have ever seen in my entire life! It is so modern, good looking and more advanced than any other forums! Good job 9to5mac!”

“This is awesome. It well definitely keep people coming to the forums and will produce a lot of interesting discussions”

“Absolutely brilliant forum. It is so much easier to post and comment than any other forum I have used. Really looking forward to see how this forum progresses!”

We are incredibly happy with the reception of this feature, and based on the feedback we’ve received from forum owners and end-users, we’ve already got a second version primed for release that allows for more customization of Vanilla Comments.