[Product Post] How to Structure Forum Categories for a Growing Community

When setting up a community forum, the last thing you want is conversational chaos. A simple way to keep that from happening is to create categories. As your community grows, you’ll want to revisit your category structure to make sure it provides optimal usability.

Here’s what you need to know about structuring your forum:

Start Simple (Basic Categorization)

Fight the urge to over-categorize.  In a new community, that’ll spread what little content you have too thin. The better move is to concentrate on a few categories and subdivide as your community grows.

Along similar lines, set your community home page to display recent discussions rather than a category listing. A list of recent and active discussions across all categories is more engaging, especially to the first time visitor, than a stark list of categories.

Adding Categories (Nesting and Sub-Categorization)

As your community grows, pay attention to discussion topics. When a topic seems to command sustained attention, consider giving it its own category. As the conversations continue to develop, you may want to subdivide categories. Vanilla lets you nest sub-categories several levels deep. The process is simple: just go to the category management page on your dashboard, click, and drag (see below)

Once you have a large number of categories, lots of traffic and lots of content, you might consider switching your homepage to display a list of categories instead of recent discussions. When making this decision, think from the perspective of your community members, and your community’s subject matter. This decision should not be made based on number of categories or traffic alone.

Higher-Level Organization (Sub-Communities)

If you manage a larger community, you may find yourself grappling with an array of conversations organized around multiple products or different languages. Vanilla’s sub-communities feature can help you make things easier for these different groups.

Let’s say you want to divide your community into three language groups: English, French, and German. Using sub-communities, you can create a unique set of categories for each. This way, you’ll spare your French members the difficulté of slogging through German Diskussion threads to find what they’re looking for.

When Categories Become Unwieldy (Flat Categorization)

There may come a time when your community has more categories than your members can handle. Rather than force them to scroll through dozens of nested categories, you can help them find what they’re looking for with ease. Use our Flat Categories feature to display your entire list of categories in alphabetical order. Members can then navigate directly to the topic that interests them. Even better, they can use the embedded quick search module to find their category immediately.

For more specifics on setting up your forum’s category structure, take a look at Vanilla’s Category Management Documentation.

3 Ways to Grow Your Business with Online Community-Based Customer Support

In my last post, I explained why 2017 is going to be a big year for online community-based customer support. Here’s a quick recap: online communities provide a space for customers to find authentic information they can trust in the most efficient way possible.

In this post, I’d like to give you three ideas on how to leverage this trend to serve customers in a way that captivates their interest, convinces them of your brand’s value, and ultimately drives future conversion. Continue reading

Psychological Tactics You Can Use to Grow Your Online Community

tactics community

You want to grow a massive online community, don’t you?

I’m not a psychic of course; however, you clicking the title is a dead giveaway of why you’re here. 🙂

While there are millions of guides that you can read on how to grow a community online, I’d like to share with you psychology-backed strategies that you can use to do just that.

Without further ado, here are three psychological tactics you can use. Continue reading

The Secret Sauce to Skyrocketing Your Community’s Growth

week-of-nov-21st-1The secrets to turning a ho-hum community into one with members that are actively engaging and growing in numbers aren’t as complicated as you’d think.

With the right strategies in place, you’d be able to grow your community to the next level, all without having to burn billions of dollars out of your marketing pocket.

If you are sick and tired of seeing your community stagnate and are desperate about growing your group in numbers, then allow me to share with you these two tips that can help you with just that. Continue reading