Is anyone combining Chat + Forum? What does your workflow look like?

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gxjansen
gxjansen Vanilla Ice Cream
edited July 1 in Talk Community #1

We switched from chat (Slack) to forum (Vanilla) about a year ago and most members are quite happy about it (mainly about the better organization, search and available history). And although no one would want to switch back, we also hear that the move to the forum made some members feel more disconnected from the rest of the community.

Forum discussions tend to be quite a bit more formal compared to chat. Going to a forum is a more deliberate move since you need to actively go to the website, instead of getting notifications from your (Slack/Discord) chat app that you already have open. And probably because chat is more fleeting, people use it for more short reactions (even if it's just an emoticon) and joke around more.

Basically, forum seems to be better for documentation and organization, but chat wins when it comes to sense of community and direct interaction.

We do still have our old community Slack running and since the switch to Vanilla we have a Zapier workflow setup to post any new discussion in Vanilla to Slack, but that doesn't really get any interaction so that in itself is definitely not the answer.

So we are wondering how others solve this. Do you extend the forum capabilities somehow? Do you integrate with a 3rd party chat feature? Have you built chat into Vanilla? Do you just run another chat alongside Vanilla without any integration?

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  • Shauna
    Shauna HLV Staff
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    👀 curious to see what the other community leaders in this community have to say about this.

    As a product manager and community geek, I am a big advocate of the slack/community connection — I agree with @gxjansen that both slack and community have slightly different purposes and there is a good deal of grey overlap between the two.

    Community geek wise, I try and answer any questions that I get in slack in community then link back to their question in slack with my community post and, of course, Zapier integrations are key to get folks into community more often. I'm more subtle about this with customers and a bit more blunt about it with staff 😂

    Product manager wise, I wonder if a deeper slack integration would be useful. Zapier does the job, but I've often wondered if it would be useful if threaded replies in slack going to community would be useful or just create duplicate content.

    I'll be watching this conversation (wearing both hats hahah) to see what all you folks are doing around this!

  • BrendanP
    BrendanP HLV Staff
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    I've noticed this customer of ours has a Discord chat embedded in their community:

    Perhaps @rlux can share how that works for them.

  • gxjansen
    gxjansen Vanilla Ice Cream
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    @Shauna welcome to the thread! :D. Yeah they are different, but there's also quite some overlap. I'm wondering how to manage that overlap both from a daily maintenance overhead perspective as well as having your community knowledge base split between two platforms.

    @BrendanP thx! Yeah curious how they manage that (beyond just putting the widget on the homepage).

  • s_andrews
    s_andrews Vanilla Ice Cream
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    Basically, forum seems to be better for documentation and organization, but chat wins when it comes to sense of community and direct interaction.

    MoneySavingExpert pre-dates most Social Media and so it started with much more of a culture of chat just organically. We have loads of threads that are just general blogging and chat.

    e.g. This one has over half million views:

  • gxjansen
    gxjansen Vanilla Ice Cream
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    @s_andrews oh yes, I should have added the line "…for our community members". I totally get that it can very much depend on your audience, what they are used to, what they expect and what they look for in a community.

    It's not that forums can't be used for that, but our audience - mostly developers working for IT companies - are very accustomed to communication through chat, whether that is internally (often through Slack) or other communities (that are often on Discord). So to this particular audience, only having the forum might not cut it when it comes to their sense of community and communication habits.