Why use Slack to build a community?
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, goes the old saying. Animal cruelty aside, the same logic behind the saying can be applied to building an online community.
You can use two of the most popular social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, both of whom offer community options (i.e. groups) to make a decent-sized community.
For business-oriented folk, there’s LinkedIn, and if you need commentaries and discussion-like features, you can always use Discourse and Quora.
Yet, none of these options is hardly ever used. Why?
The Dark Horse
Being hailed as the fastest growing startup in history, Slack was never envisioned to be a community platform. In fact, it was made as an IRC-like communication tool to help video game developers communicate with each other across different time zones.
Today, however, Slack is valued at $13 billion and boasts more than 12 million active daily users, a 37% increase just from last year. More than 6570 companies, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Lyft, 9GAG and Pinterest all use Slack as a part of their everyday tech stack.
Not to mention that roughly one third of Slack’s user base has actually migrated to Slack from another communication platform.
But what really takes the proverbial cake is that Slack, a simple, IRC-like tool for workplace communication is being used by both users and businesses to create and grow their own online communities, regardless of whether it is workplace-related or not.
But why Slack, out of all of the available options?
Although comes in three different pricing points, depending on the size of your business, the free version of slack is more than just a trial. There are no user and time limits, which means that no matter how many employees you might have, you can still use Slack for free. This is especially important for startups and small businesses who are already working with shoe-string budgets.
The problem with Facebook and Linkedin as options for community development is that they are simply too distracting. Take Facebook for example; at any given time you are one click away from chatting with friends, checking out their pics and vids, going through events, answering to friend and follow requests and endlessly scrolling through stale memes and clicking away unrelated ads.
On the other hand, Slack is a stand-alone communications app. There are no ads, no random requests, no vacation albums, nothing. This means you’re going to be more focused on the task at hand.
With more than 2 million groups on Linkedin and more than 10 million groups on Facebook, finding a suitable community of like-minded individuals makes looking for needle in a haystack into quite a manageable feat of accomplishment. Slack might have just 500 communities, but this means that you won’t have to spend your time and resources competing for new members and their attention.
Slack allows for effortless, real-time communication between members, something you cannot do using Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Users can easily share GIFs, expanding links and various files instantaneously. You can send direct, private messages to individual members or send a group-wide message with no hustle at all. This takes away the pesky formality of intros and sign offs that plague each and every work-related conversation and instead, focuses on real-time, human conversation, reaffirming the sense of community.
Considering the tightly-knit nature of its communities, as well as real-time messaging capabilities, Slack can drive engagement like no other. People check their messages far more often than they check groups and when you have a pool of talented people chatting away, fear of missing out becomes a factor. Lastly, a smaller community almost guarantees that its members are people who are genuinely interested in a specific topic, so you don’t have to worry that your message will go unnoticed.
Every Slack community comes with its own custom channels or chat rooms. Granted, channel such as #announcements, #general and #shamelessplug are pretty much universal, but you can create as many different channels as you need. Need feedback on a specific product or a service? Create a #feedback channel with just a few clicks. It is truly that simple.
Companies who operate business in different locations across town, or different towns across country can open location-specific channels for each retail store to reduce customer support loads by compartmentalizing work into easily-digestible chunks.
Channel ownership can be assigned to different team members, allowing them to be more personally engaged in aspects of the company that they find the most interesting and suitable. Channel owners can then organize separate, channel-related AMAs, collaborative projects, challenges, meetups, etc.
Besides being highly customizable, Slack is also highly accessible in regards to new users and their devices of choice. The onboarding process is simple and quite intuitive, even for absolute newbies. Slack is available for both MacOS and WIndows architecture, but also on iOS and various android devices. Everything you write is synced across platforms, allowing for effortless transfer between various devices. This makes it ideal for making diverse communities and members with varying degrees of communication styles and technical capabilities.
Development and B2B
Slack communities are an excellent addition to developer-focused and B2B companies. Having in mind that today, most companies and their employees are already using Slack, work-related communication becomes that much easier when compared to traditional forms, such as e-mail. Customers can also use communities to engage brands by asking questions, requesting features, reporting bugs, etc. Indexable conversations make the search for particular answers and solutions that much easier for the end user and reduce the burden associated with customer support.
While Slack may not be suited for every single business out there, the system it has in place is more than good enough for the large majority of companies out there. As long as they are developed and maintained adequately, slack communities have the potential of bringing people together and creating environments that are less emphasized on formalities and more on collaboration, sharing and true teamwork.
But what do you guys think? Are slack communities the future of work-related communication or just another trendy tool for communications? Join our slack community and let us know what you think!