Vanilla is a cloud-based community management solution for consumer goods, financial services, gaming, media and publishing and technology. The solution helps organizations engage members, create discussion forums and gather ideas through crowdsourcing.
Vanilla’s forums module enables users to start and moderate discussions. The module allows members to tag other members, add photos and videos to the discussion, create profiles, enable real-time edits and send private messages. Members can also create their online avatars using different icons.
The solution’s gamification functionality enables users to earn ranks, badges and followers. Also, the functionality enables users to remove spam and abusive content from the discussion on the basis of user reactions.
The platform can be integrated with third-party software such as WordPress, Zendesk, GitHub, Salesforce, MailChimp and HootSuite. Vanilla integrates with social-networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Samyutha from WalkMe Inc.
Very first time launching a community
Our CSM is amazing and really goes the extra mile to make sure we have the resources we need and liase with internal stakeholders to speed up any roadblocks we may run into.
I do think it needs quite a bit of customization to look optimal. There is also limited Salesforce integration, the only options are to create a new lead or a support case which doesn't really work well if your community is geared toward existing customers. There are definitely some improvements that can be made with Vanilla but I do think the support you receive helps you come up with work arounds to these problems
Joe from Cireson - Your System Center Experts
Employees number: 51-200 employees
- Easy to customize
- Dedicated Success manger that is very responsive and helpful!
- Cost effective with all the features that very high costing solutions have - we trialed 10 different solutions before selecting vanilla as they winner
- New features rolled in all the time
- Gamification between users have kept customers engaged and excited about what we do
I would have once sent integrations between other products, however the new API v2 solves this. So no cons :)
Paul from Lulu Press Inc
Employees number: 51-200 employees
Simple support forum solution, cloud hosting, and easy posting for our users.
After completing our transition to Vanilla and getting the community in place, the thing that makes Vanilla really stand out is how easy it is to use day to day. Tracking new threads, seeing new comments quickly, and being able to respond to our customers promptly make the product a great fit for our support forums.
We also use Vanilla to host some locked knowledge content, a function beyond the scope of the product, but one Vanilla adapted to very nicely.
Some of the limitations in the text box can be frustrating. Our users often post written content and edit each other - previously we used a product with the option to change text color, something Vanilla lacks (outside of BBcode). A few other small functionalities of this sort are lacking, but on the whole nothing that has reduced the number of posts we get daily.
Justin from Edmunds
Employees number: 501-1,000 employees
Easy moderation tools, FANTASTIC customer support/success team, and lots of great tools for the community such as badges and reactions.
Would like to see more reporting capabilities, an in-depth knowledge base for self-service so that we can learn about best practices. Would also like more advanced AI and Q&A functionalities.
Fritz from Mockup Science Inc.
Employees number: 51-200 employees
There is so much flexibility in terms of design and plug-ins. On each page it is easy to find different topics with different menus. We can quickly create new forums when publishing new games. The support team at the forums of this platform is very responsive and ready to work with us. We use the platform as a channel to help our users quickly find answers to questions that may have already been answered in the forum. In general, we are very satisfied with the product and our contacts. A big advantage for us is the presence in our company of several copies and champions. It was interesting to see different uses, and these general knowledge have greatly helped our channel.
The program does not have a special mobile application that allows you to receive notifications that can immediately alert users to actions on the forum without checking their email. It would be nice if our web developers could run instances of the program locally so that they can create themes faster.
Ian from OpenText
Employees number: 10,000+ employees
Vanilla is intuitive and very easy to use. The support staff at Vanilla are easy to work with. They want you to succeed with their product and are willing to help in any way possible to see that through. Their integration with GitHub is a nice way to control the custom theme without having to worry about all the details. No complaints on downtime. Working with Vanilla for migrations from multiple products has been a breeze.
Vanilla is not as fully featured as other forum/community products. If running the hosted option, some configuration options are not readily available to administrators. Some options are only controlled by the system administrators at Vanilla.
David from OpenText
The software is very easy to manage and it gives our community managers and moderators the tools they need to work easily and efficiently. The plug-ins give a good level of customization and the software has been relatively easy to configure to meet our business needs.
Coming from a different platform (Lithium) Vanilla is somewhat limited. There is no concept of custom HTML pages or custom navigation paths. As long as you can work within those constraints, this still delivers a very fluid and efficient forum experience for all of our users.
Tyler from Qualtrics
Employees number: 1,001-5,000 employees
Vanilla has allowed us to customize almost every aspect of the Community experience: content organization, moderation, additions of new spaces when the need arises, gamification - all of these components can be built out and tweaked by a team without coding experience. The ability for our developers to own and push changes to the code allows the next level of customization we needed to get our community off the ground.
The analytics is one place that is lacking a bit. Their advanced analytics dashboard gives insights into some useful metrics but doesn't allow any form of filtering (except for the date) or examining side by side comparisons of different user groups / content sets. The analytics API gives a bit more useful information but it still takes a bit of work to really answer some of the more complicated aspects of the value the community is providing to the organization. Additionally, their documentation is significantly lacking - once you know how to do something in the platform, you find that it can probably do what you are looking for but many times you have to rely on your CSM to help get you that information (which they are normally great at!)
Blair from Outdoor Sportsman Group
Mirrors the functionality of your typical social media platform. Ease of posting mobile photos. The "gamification" feature.
It seemed there were a lot of add-on features that I thought would be standard. It was difficult from an admin perspective to determine what features were standard when trying to learn the system.
Julian from Spotify
- The product is easy to use from a user perspective.
- Requests are taken seriously and if it's something they can't currently do but recognize it's a good idea, they will add them to their Road Map.
- Great comms from the person assiting the project, very responsive and on top of things
- It's hard to make changes sometimes. The HTML isn't accessible to forum owners so you'd have to write an entire section to make changes to anything other than the landing page. CSS is great to customize theming, but things have odd names so it's not as straightforward as it could be to make changes using it.
- It could be clearer what VF will and won't help with from the very first moment
- There are features missing, such as Tagging being in analytics
- No self-service option for simple things such as pulling the user list, this will make admin experience way better
- Services offered should better structured in the package sell, I.e: For some features requests, there were additional charges. This services should be somehow included in the terms of the service to enhance the admin experience
- It was unclear what changes would happen with a recent update, it's been left down to the forum owner to find the weird behaviors (such as filters not working correctly)
Toby from BoomWriter
Employees number: 11-50 employees
We are still building our community numbers, but once rolling, it will be a great connection point between us and our customers. Still learning some of the finer points and I look forward to have more customer data and testing built-in analytics.
Ease of use and set up. Having private groups and product ideas are very important features for us. Our contact, Brigitte, is very helpful and always responsive.
We experienced slight problems implementing SSO, but after a few calls, we solved the problem. Will need to learn how Vanilla can be used for document management.
Matt from Bought By Many
Employees number: 51-200 employees
This software has allowed our members to engage with each other in ways other platforms don't support or offer. As a company we pride ourselves on customer engagement and to have a tool that supports us in this aim has been fantastic.
As we're very new to community management Vanilla has made it incredibly straight forward to setup, moderate and grow our online community. The post sale support they offer is fantastic. There hasn't been a question they haven't been able to answer in a timely manner. The software itself is very easy to use, and as someone who has never used community tools before that's saying something. It's packed full of all the features you need to make your community a success.
The lack of customisation without having technical knowledge has been a mild inconvenience. We'd like to stand out and be different, but if we're using the same format/layout as almost all other community sites it's hard to do that. So more support for customisation for newbies would be welcomed.
Christine from Netdoktor
It's very easy to moderate the debate, help users out when they're having problems logging on etc., Great support from Vanilla - quick replies and competent people. Very flexible forums - we can costomize the forum to our specific needs.
The dashboard can be a bit overwhelming and difficult to navigate at first. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but after a while it becomes easier.
Sue from SiteLink
Vanilla is easy to use and navigate, and the tools/options/add-ons are explained thoroughly in the dashboard. This was very helpful to me, especially in the beginning when I was fairly new to forum software. When we were just getting started, having several design options/layouts to choose from helped us get the look we wanted.
The webinars I've watched were very helpful, and I've downloaded and read just about every eBook Vanilla has published (from their resources) to get advice and roadmaps for different aspects of managing a forum.
Technical support has been outstanding throughout. Whenever we have an issue large or small, I can always count on a quick response and a solution or at least an explanation.
The only cons are that there are just a couple of specific features that we would like to have but they're not available for us:
When starting a New Poll, options are limited. For example, a "select all that apply" option would be beneficial to the types of polls we take.
In the theme we are using, we're unable to sort discussions based on number of views.
Easily customisable, has everything we needed to create and oversee our growing community.
The onboarding process with Vanilla has been exemplary. Customer support has been supportive, helpful and friendly. No question is too small.
Vanilla has given us everything we needed to get our forums looking exactly how we wanted, with easy-to-understand tools that give us great control over the content in our community. We've been very specific about what we needed from Vanilla, and there's always been a way to deliver this. Overall, a good experience and we're very hopeful for the future of our community.
Occasionally, some of the more 'in-depth' tools have been tricky to use (for example the bulk user import function). However, Customer support has always been on hand to answer my questions and set things right.
Jorge from FreedomPop
Employees number: 51-200 employees
Experience in managing a Community with thousands of users and creating an engaging ecosystem for our customers to call home.
The simplicity of the overall functionality, as it is clear on how to navigate and manage all aspects of the software. I began managing our company's Community Forum without prior knowledge or experience. The ease that comes with Vanilla, has allowed me to gain the confidence in my ability to learn, grow, and excel as a Community Manager.
I believe that Vanilla can become even better if they improve their analytics system which at times does not reflect accurate data and appears to be buggy. Although, to be fair this feature is relatively new on their end so I'm sure this will become up to their overall standard of providing flawless service.
Mark from PositivelySmokeFree.com
Employees number: 2-10 employees
Gives us a support community within our budget.
Ability to Multi-Quote to respond with one post
Reply by email makes it easy
Badges: are fun
Signatures: Help give context
Looks somewhat outdated
Out of Box metrics are basic
Wall posts and status updates don't count in metrics
No Merge option
Lee Employees number: 1 employee
-Lost of modern functions including the ability to like posts and @mentions.
-You can self-host it for free of charge or go for a paid version that provides support
-Very flexible: Can even be customised to display web pages
-Gamification: reward users for participating by earn badges and new abilities
The ability to add images is a little cumbersome. I wish it could be done with 1 click! But other than that, there is little to complain about.
Chris from Tomodomo
It has made it easy for us to create beautiful, effective forums with awesome community management features to boot.
Our agency helps other companies manage and build online communities so we've encountered a lot of community platforms. Vanilla is by far our favourite though, for a few reasons. First, it's incredibly customisable. The theming architecture in particular is incredible and allows us to create beautiful forums that integrate with seamlessly with our branding. Second, it's actively developed and open source. You can watch its development openly, suggest ideas for features, etc. Third, it has a killer API which allows you to make cool app integrations, software extensions, etc. Finally, the company's support is incredibles. The support team and customer success managers are amazing at answering questions and will help you implement all kinds of awesome ideas. Vanilla rocks!
Most of my issues are with super technical details nested "Smarty" tags in Pockets would be nice to have, I wish "reactions" and other gamification features were available in the open source product, etc. Overall though those are nitpicky things the base platform itself is awesome even without them.
Ashley from Photographer
We all love it so much it's so easy to use and everyone I've spoken to really likes it a lot. Plan on using it for very long time