In a world ruled by technology and the internet, most businesses and organizations have gone online in the hopes of increasing their client base. They build comprehensive and engaging websites to give their visitors a good experience. One additional feature that businesses or organizations can have on their website is a forum.
Forums have been one of the most important forms of communication since the birth of the internet. In the past, they were a gateway for people all over the world to connect with one another through a common interest.
But, these days when there are social media platforms out the wazoo, traditional forums are feeling pretty antiquated. If you’re a creator looking for a modern forum platform for your online community then you might have come across Vanilla forums & must be wondering whether to choose traditional forum or modern community platform.
Forums have an unjustified reputation of being outdated. This is why one of your goals should be to find the best community forum software to fight this misconception. So what features exactly should you look for?
Way back when forums first became a thing, they all kind of looked the same. This trend seems to have persisted for way too long. Finally, forum software companies are putting in the effort to offer higher customizability of their product.
What does this customizability include? You will be able to create a visually unique forum – one that doesn’t resemble all the other forums on the internet. Also, the members of your forum will be able to customize their profiles, change profile pictures, add signatures, use fun fonts, or even work their way up through a reward system you set up.
Customization features Vanilla Forums does not offer:-
Under the hood, Pensil comes equipped with powerful tools to connect your forum community with social media networks and popular search engines. While Pensil is easy to integrate using a WordPress or open-source tools, customizing your new forum for proper indexing and social network integration can be tricky.
If that’s the case, the Pensil community and our own in-house support team can help you personalize and white label your website in record time.
From SSL to SEO, our customer support teams can help
There are thousands of online communities out there. Pensil makes it easy for you to create a forum that you can be proud to call your own.
Our white labeling tools make it easy for you to create a community website that stands out from the crowd. If you have the technical know-how, you can also use a hosting service to host your website on your own domain name.
From customizing fonts, logos, and colors to web-hosting options for subdomains and forum hosting, Pensil gives you everything you need to succeed.
Using custom domain tools, you can create a subdomain on your own web page when embedding your forum or even create a domain specifically for your forum.
Setup is seamless, and users will see your custom domain name rather than our Pensil domain.
Looking to expand your existing website with a rich community space? With our SDK and APIs you can integrate Pensil in a matter of hours and have full control over member data and experience.
Webhooks allow other services and applications to stay in sync with your community data or to perform an action after a specific event occurs in your community.
Webhooks are a performant alternative to continuously polling for changes to the IPS REST API.
For example, a webhook can notify your service when a new topic is created so that your app can perform then any further actions.
Webhooks can also be used to connect your community with Zapier, IFTTT or Integromat, so that any event which is covered by webhooks can trigger any further actions.
Common webhook use cases
🔎Sync your member base with 3rd party newsletter lists
🌆Sync your Event RSVP with your Online Ticketing System
🔼Update your inventory after a purchase was made
You can find the webhook functionality in the AdminCP, under the API section. There is also a useful webhook reference built in.
Speaking of awards, they are an amazing tool for community engagement. Knowing that they can get an award or an achievement for being active prompts people to engage in quality discussions more frequently. The awards can bring certain benefits, such as access to secret subforums or ad-free browsing for a certain period of time.
Engagement features Vanilla Forums does not offer :
Spontaneous conversations are easy in Pensil. Easily spin up a group chat or send a private message.
Leaderboards are a popular form of community gamification in which the top performing members are displayed according to their contribution to the community. How rankings are determined depends on values and priorities of the community, but they are typically the result of various actions that have been quantified into points.
Some examples of points-worthy activities include creating, replying or engaging with a post, visiting a new community, inviting other members to a community, or receiving replies or engagements on a post the member has created. In most cases, administrators do not receive points for their activities and hence do not rank on the leaderboard.
Interactive live streams, group chats & events — so you can actually connect
Being able to manage your forum effectively is much more important than making it look good. The best forum software provides you with community building and management tools that are comprehensive and easy to use. The members should have the option to flag or report inappropriate content, and you and your admin team should have available options for repercussions for rule-breaking.
Management features Vanilla Forums does not offer :
Keep your members safe, and secure your brand reputation. Pensil helps you leverage a powerful moderation panel, keyword blocklist, and post-hiding capability to ensure that the community is free from spam, abuse, and harmful language.
If you are concerned about how your community is performing in search engine results (SEO), there are a number of questions to keep in mind when looking to optimize your community software of choice. We frequently get asked questions in our support inboxes and in our public community about how Pensil handles SEO.
If you’re new to search engine optimization, be sure to check out our primer on community SEO
The White label Mobile App comes with a bunch of functionality - essentially everything you will need to build, run and engage your community.
You can create an unlimited number of spaces - whether it is open spaces, that are accessible to all members, or private spaces, that are invited only. You can also link a payment gateway to a paid section and monetize your content and courses.
You can send and receive DMs from your community members. You can attach videos, pictures, or documents in the DMs.
You can create an event and host it live within the App. Your community members will receive email notifications for the event, they can RSVP and stay updated with any changes in the event.
You get all your members listed in a dedicated section. You can send them individual DMs or start a live chat with them. Also, you can always download that list or use the upcoming email marketing functionality to send them custom emails.
To give the ultimate white-label experience, we have made the app such that you can upload it to Google or Apple App stores within your own account. If you don’t want to manage the process, we will do it for you.
Free trial is Not available.
✔ Allows you to add community experience in the customer journey via widgets
✔ Extremely customizable
✔ Modern design with personalized feeds
✔ Scalable pricing model based on active users instead of simple member counts
✔ Top-notch real-time customer support
✔ Comes with an extensive set of in-built apps
✔ Industry-leading integrations with popular third-party tools
✔ All of these at an unbeatable subscription fee
✔Zero learning curve : Vanilla Forums forces a new user experience upon you and your users. This leads to the need for (most difficult of all) a new behavior. It’s VERY hard to change people’s behavior. You want to avoid that at all costs. It should a last resort. Which is why at Pensil, we (shamelessly) copied the user experience of the most widely-used apps.
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