Slack continues to rise in popularity as a communication and collaboration tool with more than 10 million daily active users.
Slack started off as an internal messaging tool in 2013 and has since evolved into a ubiquitous collaboration platform used by companies of all types — startups, SMBs, and even large enterprise teams.
Today, slack communities are used for many use cases such as internal chats, external communications, project management, product development, mastermind groups, customer support, and many more.
The best part — you can create a slack community for free and support unlimited users while maintaining total control.
In this article, learn how you can build a slack community from scratch. Also, find out how to launch, promote and manage a thriving Slack community.
Step 1 — Pre-Planning
There is an old saying that goes like this — “ Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”. This universal saying applies not only to marketing, product or sales teams but also applies to your own community-building efforts.
Similar to any community, it will require a considerable amount of time and resources from you (and your team) for creating, promoting, growing and managing a thriving Slack community.
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If you don’t plan in advance, then you might end up spending a lot more time or resources than you initially hoped. Or even worse, your community users might lose interest in your Slack group and end up abandoning it altogether.
We all have belonged to communities that were off to a great start, but the interest soon dwindled and ultimately the group became a ghost-town.
We want to help you avoid that dreaded fate.
That’s why it’s important to plan in advance even before you are ready to launch and invite new members.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before creating your Slack group:
a) Why Are You Creating this Community?
Consider the reasons why this community is important to your business.
There are many reasons to start a Slack group:
- To build a personal brand.
- To provide exclusive customer service.
- To network with industry peers.
- To create a Mastermind with thought-leaders.
- For education and learning purposes.
- To hire potential employees or partners.
You have to decide what are the benefits of creating a Slack community for your business.
b) Who is Your Target Audience?
The more you understand who your ideal members are, the easier it will be to target and attract them to the group.
A quick 5-minute exercise will help you understand:
- Who are they?
- What’s their current role?
- What are their current interests?
- Where do they typically spend time?
- How to best target them?
This exercise is very similar to building a buyer’s persona for your marketing campaigns.
c) What Unique Value Can You Offer Them?
Users join groups and communities for a variety of reasons:
- To learn new things.
- To keep up with industry trends.
- To network with other like-minded individuals.
- To connect with a brand they are loyal to.
You must clear of the value your members will get once they join and participate in the Slack group.
Be clear about why they would join, and what you can offer them that’s distinct from any other online communities that they are a part of.
Step 2 — Set up the Slack Community
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- Choose the Right Name
To ensure that your slack community will be successful, it’s essential that you come up with a proper name.
The name should immediately let potential members know what the community is about, and what they can expect from joining it.
If you are creating one for your company’s customers, then it does not have to be a complicated name. You can simply create a Slack group with your brand name (Your Company’s Slack Group, Company Name Customers,etc.).
Here are a few examples of corporate Slack communities:
However, if you are creating a social community for members with similar interests, then create a name that matches the theme or topic of interest. Search for the popular hashtags and search terms in your industry. You will understand which topics are popular and which are most likely to attract interest.
Here are a few examples of community-focused Slack Groups:
- IOS Devlopers Slack – A Slack community for iOS developers with
- NYCTech —(for New York City tech community).
Make sure that your name doesn’t sound too similar to other existing Slack groups.
You can search on Slofile for a list of existing Slack groups. There are also other ways to search for existing Slack communities.
Our Slack group is called Online Geniuses, and our members include freelancers, marketing consultants, internet marketers, agency owners, etc. Our goal was to create all-encompassing community for marketers interested in building online businesses.
Once you have picked a name, the next step is to create your Slack Community.
- Creating Your Slack Community
Creating a Slack group is simple and straight-forward and takes less than a few minutes to set up.
Head over to Slack.com, and follow these instructions to create your Slack workspace:
- Enter your Email Address.
- Follow the verification/confirmation step.
- Enter the name of your community.
- Enter the project your team will work on.
- (Optional)Enter email addresses of who you want to invite (Skip for now)
And voila, your Slack community has now been created.
- Customizing Your Slack
Channels are chat rooms where members can have open discussions on that topic. You can also use these channels to make any announcements, or share any files/documents.
By default, all new Slack communities have 3 channels — #general, #random,#test.
You have the option to create multiple channels. You also have control over the names, descriptions, and privacy of each channel.
Finally, take advantage of the many pre-built apps or integrations.
Slack has integrations with the most popular third-party software — Asana, Trello, Google Drive, HubSpot, Salesforce, Dropbox, OneDrive, GitHub, Zendesk, Zapier, etc.
Check out the Slack App Directory for a list of all integrations.
You can enable these Slack integrations or apps, either for the entire workspace or individual channels. For free Slack plans, you are limited to only 10 apps/integrations. For additional integrations and other enhancement,s, you have the option to upgrade to premium Slack plans.
Step 3 — Promote the Slack Community
Once you create your workspace, there are many ways to get the word out and grow your Slack community.
Here are a few ideas that will help you get the word out:
i) Your Website :
If you have a blog or website that currently receives a decent amount of traffic, then use that prime real estate to let visitors know about your Slack community.
Here are a few examples of how brands using their website to promote their slack channels:
- Online Geniuses (Yes, that’s ours!!).
- Animalz (Content Marketing Career Growth Community).
ii) Email :
Email continues to be a dominant marketing channel in 2020. So, why not use it to promote your Slack community?
If you have an active email list of customers or active newsletter subscribers, then leverage the power of this list to promote your Slack group. Inform your subscribers about your community, what it’s about, who the members are, and the value they will get by joining.
iii) Social Media :
Leverage social media channels such as Twitter, Reddit, Facebook to inform your connections or audience. Find out the trending hashtags or communities in your niche, and join the conversations by mentioning or plugging your new Slack community.
A word of caution — Be careful, not to go overboard with self-promotion. It’s important to talk about the benefits of the group to the members.
Your personal LinkedIn feed is also a great place to promote your Slack community. Here’s a good example by a LinkedIn member sharing the benefits of his Slack community. As you can see from the image, that his LinkedIn post has received tons of engagement.
iv) Content Marketing :
If you have an active blog, then make sure to also promote your Slack community on your posts. Also, take advantage of guest posting opportunities on other blogs or publications.
Most publications will provide you an opportunity to share and promote if you follow and abide by their editorial guidelines. Make sure to ask the editors permission before including a pitch about your Slack community.
Here’s a blog post that was written on Single Grain by Eric Siu, discussing the best Slack communities for marketers. Our own Slack community — Online Geniuses was also mentioned in the articles. This article provides us exposure to Single Grain’s audience, and also potential traffic back to our website. All of which helps us attract new members.
v) Paid Media :
Paid ads (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads) are also good avenues to promote your Slack community, provided you have the budget for it.
The benefit of paid media channels is that you can segment and target your audience (based on their interests or queries). The advertising platforms will then show your ads only to individuals or companies who fit those criteria. Though expensive, paid ads can help you reach people who you might easily find through other channels.
Step 4 — Managing the Slack Community
The strength of any community (online or offline) is directly related to the strength of its member base and their engagement. To build a thriving and engaging community, you need to ensure active participation from most/all your members.
Here are a few ideas to boost more engagement in your Slack community:
- Create an #IntroduceYourself Channel — Provide all your members an opportunity to participate. Give them a chance to speak about themselves, and what they are hoping to get out of the community. It will spark some discussions and also build some camaraderie amongst your members.
- Post interesting things in the channels — Initially, you (and your team) will have to do all the heavy lifting, and you will have to post actively to get some member participation. Post questions, conversations, and discussions to get your audience involved. As soon as the group builds momentum, then other members will start being more active and will take the lead.
- Host AMAs — Initially popularized by Reddit, now Ask-Me-Anythings(AMAs) are popular on most social media networks and communities. You can host similar AMAs in your Slack community by partnering with influencers, experts, and inviting them to share best practices with your members.
Initially, you have to wear the hat of the community moderator or manager and take care of basic house-keeping — approving news members, managing discussions, setting rules, etc.
Once your community grows, you can then delegate it to other members. Always, make sure to elicit feedback from members, so they can tell you how to keep your slack community active and thriving.
Finally, it’s also important to ensure that the conversations are always civil and in-line with the original theme of the group. It’s important to monitor and maintain the discussions, and also weed out bad apples. It will ensure that your most active and loyal users continue to use your Slack community. You might have to enforce strict policies or community guidelines to ensure that all members understand the rules of engagement and are abiding by it.
Build Your Slack Community Today
The number of Slack communities (though unknown) is still relatively small compared to other online communities (1 Billion Facebook Groups, 2 Million LinkedIn Groups, 1.2 Million Sub-reddits).
Slack communities are still in the early stages of awareness, penetration, and adoption.
Yet they provide a distraction-free, more accessible and highly engaging platform for community owners and members. All this makes Slack unique and attractive to many users.
It’s still not too late to start building an engaging community for your business.
We hope that the steps discussed in this article will help you create a successful online community that is a value-add for your members, and at the same time helps you grow your business.
Start building a thriving Slack community today!