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How to use Slack DMs to engage your community
Aug 17th, 2022

How to use Slack DMs to engage your community

Community leaders know that keeping members engaged can be a challenge. Even when you have active and vibrant discussions in Slack channels, some members stop chatting and slowly fade away.

Slack direct messages are a great, personal way to check in with your community one-on-one. A Slack DM asking about a member’s experience is the best way to ensure they’re getting value from the community and prompt them to rejoin the conversation.

Slack is the primary channel for our community at SuperHi. We’re an online education platform with courses ranging from how to plan, design, and code your first website to Crypto + Web 3 for creatives and more.

Through Slack, students engage with their instructors as well as our community of other learners in real time. By showcasing the projects they’re working on, sharing resources, and just getting to know one other on a personal level, the SuperHi community supports and helps each other grow.

Based on our experience, here are four tips for how to use direct messages in Slack to keep your community engaged.

1. Start with a welcome message.

The best time to engage your community is right from the start. Sending a welcome message when a new member joins makes them feel immediately included. Helping members feel comfortable and encouraging them to dive into conversation sets the stage for a more engaged, healthier community.

To kick off a conversation, you need the right elements. As an example, our SuperHi welcome message includes:

  • A personal note: hello, welcome, and great to have you
  • Intro to me as a primary point of contact in the community
  • Specific tips for getting started like setting a profile picture, checking out the code of conduct, and letting them know where they can introduce themselves to the full SuperHi community
  • Links to other resources if they need help or support

When a new member joins your community, they’ve joined for a reason! A welcome message can help them get the answers or connections they’re looking for right off the bat, which increases the chances they stick around and make your community even better.

Check out this guidance on how to welcome members into the community for more ideas on what to say and how to say it.

2. Use automated messages to help you scale.

As you implement tip #1, you’ll quickly see that one-on-one messages can take up a lot of time. How do you balance these individual conversations with the other important community building activities you’re doing?

Using a tool to automate welcome messages is a great way to ensure every member is welcomed into the community without the manual effort of sending each Slack DM yourself. We initially used GreetBot. It helped save us a lot of time, but the tool felt impersonal because messages came from a bot. With the Slack GreetBot shutting down, it was an opportunity to find another solution that would help us keep up with our community while still keeping it personal.

Common Room is a great GreetBot alternative. Common Room Workflows help you create automated campaigns to deepen community engagement. For us, this starts with a welcome message as part of a new community member onboarding journey. We’ve taken the note I outlined above and loaded it into Common Room, which sends the welcome message out as a DM from my Slack account.

Having an automated welcome message that comes from a person rather than a bot lets us engage with our community in a more human way, and members have been much more responsive to it. Moving from GreetBot to Common Room Workflows has increased our new member engagement by nearly 3x. Not only do I get more replies from members, but they’re engaging with our full community a lot more too.

Common Room Workflows takes care of the first message, ensuring that everyone is welcomed into the community in a timely manner, then I keep the conversation going from there.

3. Keep it personal and make it relevant.

The whole point of a direct message is to engage a community member one-on-one. Be sure to show interest in who they are and what they’re looking for in your community.

If a community member responds to your welcome message or you’re just trying to get a particular member re-engaged in the conversation, be sure you’re centering them and their needs. Some quick conversation starters could be:

  • What are you hoping to learn from the community?
  • What problems can we help you solve?
  • What projects are you working on right now?
  • What can we do better as a community?

You should also strive to show members you recognize their unique interests with direct messages that speak to specific topics or solve problems that are meaningful to them. For example, you and your team members should use DMs to point community members to specific threads they might find interesting or invite them to relevant events (even after posting about them in a public channel or private channel).

I’ve seen a significantly better response rate by delivering invites, insights, and other info directly to people in a DM versus just posting in an announcements channel. I recently reached out to specific individuals I knew would be interested in an event for Shopify designers and got some nice notes back thanking me for the invitation and recommendation.

Common Room also gives us a complete picture of how each member is engaging in our community, including activity and sentiment across all our community sources — for us, that’s Slack, social media (Twitter and LinkedIn), and YouTube. This allows us to quickly see a particular member’s latest posts and what they are most interested in, so we can keep the conversation going with relevant info.

4. Keep checking in with your members.

If you’ve tackled the first three tips, you’re off to a great start! You’ve used welcome messages and personalized DMs to set the foundation for a strong, engaged community — now you just have to keep it going. No sweat, right? 😅

Common Room helps us here too. The platform serves up a dashboard with recently inactive members. I can filter this list by source, previous activity level, segment, and more to quickly find folks I want to message to bring them back into the community conversation.

Common Room Workflows also provide the ability to automate broader nurture campaigns sent as direct messages. These include:

  • With the onboarding journey workflow, you can send a check-in message a set time after your welcome message. You can automatically ask how their first month in the community has been, for example.
  • With the re-engagement workflow, Common Room can automatically reach out to community members who have been inactive for a set amount of time. You can use this message to invite them back into the conversation or ask that member what would make the community more valuable for them.

And while they’re automated to save you time, all of these important messages will still feel personal because they’re sent directly in Slack from me.

Get sliding into those DMs

Following these best practices for direct messaging has helped us keep our amazing SuperHi community engaged and thriving. I hope they can help you use Slack effectively too. Happy DMing — your community members will appreciate it!

To learn more about Common Room Workflows, visit the Common Room blog. If you’re new to Common Room, get started for free or request a demo to see the platform in action.

For more community building tips, join the Uncommon Community, which includes a Slack group for community leaders.

Interested in online courses that help creative people stand out? Check out the SuperHi course list.