With over 10 million active users, Slack has become an oft-invaluable platform that community managers can use to grow and engage with their communities. Community leaders choose the platform to build community because of Slack’s easy-to-use integrations and its capacity to feel casual, quick, and lighthearted.
We ourselves chose to open a Slack workspace as our first owned community-based chat channel. The platform also offers great opportunities for interacting with customers, and customer feedback, in near real time. It enables conversations that open up connections between community members both familiar with and new to one another, and it allows for public dialogues, semi-organized message threading, and notable ways to add a little surprise and delight to app-based, on-screen messaging.
While it’s easy to start a Slack for your community, it’s not necessarily simple. There are best practices and learned lessons from those who have started, hosted, and grown communities through Slack. We synthesized a collection of 10 best practices for building a community on Slack. May they help you build and deepen relationships within and across your own community.
It all starts with conversations. Longtime community builders like Rosie Sherry repeat this mantra—because it’s true. Talk to the people you would invite to join your community on Slack. Once you validate that it’s a place and a way in which they’d like to gather, chat, and connect, you can start the rest of the work knowing you’re building the right thing for the right reasons with your community members at the center.
Articulate why you’re bringing your community together, and why you’re building it on Slack. Maybe your community members wanted a faster way to share questions, ideas, and answers. Maybe they were excited to connect using a platform they’re already familiar with. Or maybe they just love the GIPHY integrations.
Create your ‘why’ based on the conversations you had with your community and then share your ‘why’ with your members so everyone’s on the same page. Potential members are bound to ask ‘why’ did you create this Slack, and ‘why’ should I join? Knowing your ‘why’ will enable you to give them a clear, authentic answer.
Before you build your community on Slack, co-create a community code of conduct to set expectations from the outset about what your community allows, what it doesn’t, and what will happen if those expectations aren’t met. A community code of conduct helps align everyone with the same information from the start and sets a tone of transparency at the outset.
Trust is in the details. To grow membership in line with your initial community conversations, co-create and communicate guidelines that give new members actionable ways to enter and participate in your community.
For some communities, guidelines are as simple as adding an avatar image and introducing themselves. For others, it’s as specific as setting minimums for participation and engagement. Expect your members to contribute at least one idea or thread per week? Make that a guideline and communicate it to your members clearly.
Once you have the philosophical parts in place, you’ll need to get tactical. To start your Slack community, you’ll first want to create your new Slack workspace.
Once you’ve created your Slack workspace, you’ll want to create the channels that your members will be automatically added to—a few example from Slack communities we love are channels like:
You’ll also need to decide which channel community members will land in the first time they enter your Slack community. This channel should include orienting information for getting started in the community.
When you set your channels, you can customize your Slack workspace to define how people join your workspace, set channel permissions, and more. To add a bit of fun to your workspace, consider adding integrations like GIPHY or adding more emoji packs.
With your workspace in order, create a Slack invitation link and then spread the word. Share your link with your founding members. Ask them to invite others who would find the community valuable. Got an email list? Invite those folks. People follow you on social media? Welcome them in.
Send new members a direct message to welcome them to the community. Think of your welcome message as an invitation to conversation with you. In it, you can share a bit about yourself, a bit about the community, and ask new members if there’s something they’re hoping to learn or share that you can help with.
Some community leaders previously used the now-retired GreetBot to send a welcome message, but intelligent community growth platforms like Common Room offer richer, more expansive workflows, starting with a welcome message and including additional touchpoints like timely check-in messages and member surveys.
Hosting a community on Slack makes it easy to be a connector. As a community host, your job isn’t to know every answer to every question, it’s to support and facilitate helpful connections and conversations as best you can.
Do you know someone in the community who has expertise in a certain topic that was brought up in your community? Either DM them privately with a link to the thread and ask if they’ll weigh in or, depending on their preference, at-mention them in the thread directly.
Acknowledge active and contributing members and their work publicly, and give credit when credit is due. Send them a digital high five by linking to their content and social profiles, invite them to speak at a meetup, or highlight them as a guest curator of your next newsletter.
Whatever you do, acknowledge and celebrate their contributions. It is through giving that we receive, and acknowledging your community members can set a tone of reciprocity, transparency, and celebration that elevates every member.
Community builders should exemplify all the things we’ve covered in this article. They should:
One of the most important best practices you can follow for building your community on Slack is choosing an intelligent community growth platform that will help you proactively engage, grow, and understand what’s important to your community.
As community membership on Slack increases, so too will the conversations, threads, and content. And if your Slack membership is increasing, likely too is word of mouth about your community. That increase may also be reflected across your other community sources like Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, GitHub, Reddit, Discourse, Discord, and others.
As your community interacts with you across more community platforms, channels, and sources, it becomes increasingly important to get insights into what’s most important to them. Choosing an intelligent community growth platform that enables you to track membership, conversations, engagement, sentiment, questions, and trends over time will set you and your community, both on Slack and elsewhere, up for success in the long-term.
Slack can be an invaluable way to start building your community. Creating the most useful and fun Slack experience possible is an ongoing effort best co-shaped with your community. Read more about the current state of Slack community management, including the top Slack features and how to get more value out of your efforts in The ultimate guide to Slack community management.
To intelligently engage and grow your community, try Common Room for free today. Looking for more about building a community on Slack? Read about the basics of Slack communities and connect with 1000+ community and DevRel leaders to share expertise and ask questions in the Uncommon community Slack.