Category Archives: Help

Community Management 101: Everything You Wanted To Know About Building Your Community From A to Z

community management 101

Launching an online community may be one of the most important things you do for your business or brand. If you’ve never embarked on this path, it can be equal parts daunting and rewarding. It creates a hub of information and interaction between your organization, your fans and customers.

It is a long-term project, not a short-term solution. You must be prepared to build and guide your community towards success and create an atmosphere that fosters engagement from your audience and good will towards your brand.

Properly done, online communities are being used by businesses and organizations just like yours in order to:

  • Gather support of fans and customers
  • Provide support
  • Increase awareness of new and existing products
  • Source valuable information about your target customer
  • Gather feedback on new ideas or existing products

There are a lot of components that go into creating the successful community, and many factors to take into consideration.  We have created this step by step guide in order to support your efforts in creating your community and give you the guidelines you need in order to be successful.

This is a long post. If you want to jump to specific chapters, click on the links below:

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Our New Vanilla Documentation Center Refresh

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We’ve refreshed our technical, help and training documentation. Here’s a quick recap of what we have done.

As Vanilla evolves and grows, so does the need for better ways to help our customers get more out of their online community forum. We’re also in the process of adding a mountain of new content to this site, which is scheduled to take place over the next 4 months.

We’ve segmented the documentation for our two core audiences:

  • End-user help and training – this section focuses on the perspective of members, moderators, and administrators in their day-to-day use of Vanilla. Here you’ll find lots of step-by-step tutorials, in-depth feature documentation, helpful blogs, and tips on how to get the most out of your community.
  • Open source technical documentation – This is for developers using our Open Source product and that have a functional understanding of PHP, HTML, CSS and Javascript and that are hosting their own community. It can be found here:

The section devoted to API documentation for our commercial version (hosted Vanilla Forums) can be found here.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our technical team and we’d be glad to help you!


Using Forum RSS feeds in a Slack Channel

It’s hard to ignore the impact of a tool like Slack has had on many businesses. It’s an easy way to stay connected to your team, even if you have a distributed team across the country or the world. One tip you may have missed is how you can leverage RSS feeds and Slack – this can help you be more efficient in managing notifications and bringing in content from various locations into one area.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to use the RSS feeds of your community (powered by Vanilla) and a dedicated slack channel.

Identifying the feeds you need in Vanilla Forums

Before you integrate the RSS feeds, you’ll need to decide which feeds you want to follow. With Vanilla, you have access to RSS feeds to public categories, profiles, and activities. To use content from any area of your Vanilla community,  add “/feed.rss” to the end of the URL. Some for example, you want the RSS feed of a category it will look like the following:

If you uncheck the “view” in the Guest roles & permissions, these will not have a public RSS feed and therefore will not be able to be used with this solution.


Get the RSS feed add-on from Slack…or not

Once you have the RSS feed you want you now you need to grab the RSS add-on from Slack. This will allow you to import the information from any RSS feed to any channel you think makes sense. All you need to do is click install.


The other option, is just to use the Slack command /feed subscribe and then the URL or the RSS feed you want. You can do this within any Slack channel you want or create a new one.

To create an area for comments on our blog, I created a new channel. I personally thought it was easier.


Now I need to subscribe to the RSS feed from my Vanilla community. We have all comments going to it’s own category, called “Blog Comments”. As I’ve explained earlier, I just add /feed.rss to the end of the category url, to grab a feed.


We can now enter this command into our Slack channel


SlackBot confirms it’s working and now anyone on this channel will get notified of any new comments on our blog.


Now that you know how to find your RSS feed, tell us how you are using it. Are you using it with Slack, Zapier or another solution?

Identifying Your Community Demographics


How much do you know about your audience? I mean, how much do you really know? Any stats package will tell you about how many pageviews you have on your community, but will it tell you how old your core audience is? If you have an audience willing to provide the data, then consider yourself lucky. In most instances, though, acquiring this information can be expensive.
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