Do you like to read? I'd personally prefer to grab a video game—but there are some things that I'll make an exception for. If the topic is interesting and it draws my eye, I'll scan the first page. From there, you can quickly tell if it's a quality read or not.
Which is exactly why this blog was very hard to write; I mean, selecting only five of the best Vanilla eBooks of 2019!? All of the content at Vanilla is awesome! *ahem* I'm not biased at all!
But in all honestly, we try to pump out content that's not only high quality, but also easy to consume. That's why when we do collaborative eBooks, we make sure that we work with industry experts to get the latest and most relevant information, and package it in a way where anyone can just pick it up, enjoy and learn.
But choosing only FIVE? Oh man. Well, I've faced more difficult challenges in my life, (like the time I got scammed into trading all my vintage hats on TF2) but I'll do my best.
Without further ado, here's the best Vanilla eBooks of 2019, my top 5 countdown!!
And it should be noted, that this is my own personal opinion—definitely leave your comments below and let me know what your top 5 picks are! :D
Taking the fifth place spot is All You Need To Know About Search Engine Optimization. And yes, you guessed it, it's all about SEO!
This was the first eBook released in 2019, and it was inspired by the fact that SEO was, and still is, a hot topic. Knowing how to optimize your SEO is something that every organization should be doing, otherwise, it's likely that they won't get the brand visibility they're looking for.
As we examined the existing resources out there on SEO (and there is quite a bit!) we noticed one thing: all existing guides that claim to be "all you need to know" really weren't. For example, some guides would discuss all aspects of SEO, however they would begin with the assumption that the reader was familiar with all the terms being used. And of course, when it's an "all you need to know" guide, you should always assume the reader knows nothing.
And so, our quest to write a comprehensive and truly "all you need to know" guide began. Sub-titled with an appropriate "For People Who Speak Plain English, By People Who Speak Plain English," this 80 page guide is literally the only guide you'll ever need on SEO. Complete with a quick reference glossary, defining over 50 key SEO terms, this book literally includes everything you need to know.
Whether you're an expert in SEO or a beginner, there's definitely something new to learn! Once you take a look, let us know in the comments what you learnt!
In the fourth place spot for me is our original research piece, Online Communities: The Benefits and Impacts on Organizations, 2019. This eBook is academic in nature as it seeks to explore the different ways that having an online community can have an impact on an organization and their goals.
This research piece was created in order to help fill a gap in existing literature relating to online communities; a majority of the research regarding online communities has to do with how it impacts the customer. For example, there's a ton of research that proves having an online community boosts customer satisfaction, increases engagement and improves customer experience. On the flip side, however, there's limited research that actually shows the impacts on the organization; for example, does having an online community actually increase sales? Does it actually translate to an increase in traffic? Does it really increase customer retention?
We surveyed over 400 leaders across various industries to get to the bottom of these questions. This is an eBook you really shouldn't miss!
In the third place spot is Building a Strategic Super Fan Program For Your Online Community, written by community strategist, Jake McKee. Jake is the CEO and Lead Strategist at Community5, and is one of the founders of the modern customer community movement.
With a ton of experience building some amazing Super Fan programs, who better to collaborate with than Jake? What I especially love about this eBook is how Jake manages to take a topic that not only requires a strategic approach, but also a structured methodology, and explain it in a way that's easy to understand and follow. For example, not only are the benefits of a Super Program laid out, but Jake also prescribes five simple steps to implement such a program.
This eBook is an a must-read for anyone looking to create their own Super Fan program since it literally covers everything. Speaking of which, every community should have some type of Super Fan program since it has so many benefits that by not having one, you're missing out! Read this eBook to find out exactly what these benefits are!
Taking the second place spot is A Strategic Guide to Community Gamification. The biggest reason why I think so highly of this eBook is that it's actually fun! I'm a huge gamer, so I really appreciate everything and anything containing the word "game." Gamification itself is essentially the application of game mechanics into things that are traditionally non-game related, which is obviously fun and exciting!
While this eBook plays on the theme of being fun and vintagey-playful, it also discusses gamification in a strategic way. For example, simply slapping together a ranking system in a month likely won't have a huge impact; there's so much more that goes into it. A number of factors need to be considered in order to implement gamification in the right way—the way necessary to garner higher levels of engagement and brand loyalty.
As part of this strategic approach, this eBook presents a new look at gamification through the Vanilla coined Three Pillars of Gamification, which connects human psychology to motivation. Ultimately, it explains exactly why gamification is so powerful when used in a community by connecting human desires and motivators to the outcomes that fuel a vibrant and successful community—loyalty, participation and engagement.
While this eBook is a fun and easy read, don't be fooled—it by no means lacks quality information. In fact, it's highly strategic and it looks amazing (thanks to the Vanilla designer!) Give it a read and let me know in the comments below if it's as fun as I've made it out to be!
DRUM ROLL PLEASE!
ANDDDDDD taking the top spot for Vanilla's best eBooks of 2019 is the 2020 Community Predictions!
What makes this eBook number 1 in my opinion? The sheer amount of knowledge crammed into this 90+ paged eBook is unprecedented. While we've been doing a predictions piece every year since 2015, we've had more experts contribute this year than ever before.
Not only is this a pleasant benefit indicative of our growth as a company, but it also means that we can provide you with more information than ever before. Featuring over 30 community experts, 11 key trends and 40+ key recommendations, this eBook was designed with you in mind so that you have all you need to succeed in 2020. Further, this year, we implemented a new look to this annual eBook; it's the beginning of a new decade, so let's do it right, eh?
And what does this new look...well, look like?
Glad you asked, my friends! Each chapter in this eBook (11 in total) touches on a key community trend for 2020 and further includes:
The community experts who’ve identified the trend
An assessment of each prediction, with input from each expert
An explanation as to why this will be a top trend for 2020
Recommendations on how you can address these trends so that your community isn’t left behind
The community experts who've contributed to this list have a combined experience count of over 280 years. If there's one book you absolutely need to read, it's this one.
BUT THERE'S MORE!
This eBook will be followed by a virtual event in January 2020, where five of these experts will sit down with our very own Head of Community, Adrian Speyer, for a fireside chat. Okay, it's a virtual fireside chat, but you get the deal. It'll be an event that you don't wanna miss, so grab your spot now!
And that about wraps it up folks! What were your top picks for 2020? Join the conversation, and I look forward to hearing from all of you!