Slack is a go-to platform for many organizations seeking a place to host their community. However, as of September 1st, 2022, Slack made changes to its free plan and announced a price increase on its paid tiers. Many community leaders want to understand what these changes mean for them and their members, and which Slack plan has the features they need for managing their new and existing communities.
This guide for community leaders examines the Slack tiers and compares the free vs. paid plans. In this guide, you will learn:
Slack’s free tier makes staying connected with your community members easy but with certain limitations. The Slack Pro plan has increased functionality for connecting with members and managing your community but at a price point.
Before we dig into the details, here's a high-level overview of how Slack's free and paid plans compare.
|Free plan||Pro plan|
|Cost||Free||$7.25 USD per person/month|
|Message history||Access to the last 90 days of messages||Unlimited message history with a searchable archive of conversations|
|Integrations||Up to 10 integration with apps and services||Unlimited integrations with other apps and services|
|Member communication||Audio and video clips, 1:1 voice and video calls||Audio and video capabilities for up to 15 participants at a time, with screen sharing|
|Analytics||Basic membership and activity metrics||Additional analytics on channels and member activity|
|Storage||Files from the last 90 days||10GB per member file storage|
|Additional features||Custom sidebar sections|
|Member name and email address management|
Many people are familiar with Slack because they use it for work, which is why Slack is a common choice for companies looking to host and nurture a thriving B2B community.
Building a community on Slack allows organizations to bring users, developers, customers, prospects, and influencers together to learn and exchange best practices about a topic or product. Slack community management features have helped companies use the platform to grow strong communities with thousands of members while creating meaningful and deep relationships. Successful communities, in turn, benefit the business by driving product feedback, adoption, and growth.
Slack is great for text-based chatting and organizing conversations into threads, but it is not the only platform to facilitate community and community conversations. Other community platforms like Discord enable your community to communicate in numerous ways, whether via text, audio, or video.
If Slack is your platform of choice, here is everything you need to know about its tiered offerings.
Slack’s free tier gives community managers and members the basics in terms of staying connected and engaged with each other. The free tier offers channels, direct message capabilities, and Slackbot integrations—albeit with some limitations.
There are clear benefits and limits to the community features available at this level.
Slack’s free tier allows for unlimited messaging, but messages are only available for 90 days.
Members can communicate freely and access chat history from the past ~3 months, so content and context from recent conversations is readily available.
Capping message history to 90 days was one of the changes rolled out in September 2022.
With message access limited to just 90 days, community members and leaders lose historical conversations and knowledge sharing. This cap limits the free tier’s use as an ongoing knowledge repository for the community.
Slack’s free plan offers up to 10 integrations with other apps or services.
Community teams can add apps to their workspace and connect to other tools and services to enhance their members’ experience. Some common integrations include tools like Google Docs and GitHub—which can be helpful collaborating on community content and code—or Zoom and Donut, for events and programming that keep members engaged.
For community managers, the 10 integration limit isn’t necessarily a deterrent from the free tier—most communities won’t need more than 10 apps.
But for internal business teams who use Slack as a primary form of communication, unlimited integrations are great for productivity and collaboration.
Text-based messaging is core to all of Slack’s plans. Slack’s free offering also provides a platform for 1:1 voice or video calls between community members.
Slack’s basic or freemium plan offers audio and video clip sharing as well as 1:1 huddles. Audio and video clips can be used for quick community updates or paired with screen sharing to walk a member through a new feature or use case. Huddles allow members to go from typing to talking or video calling in just one click directly inside Slack.
Huddles are a great feature—but they can only host a maximum of two participants on the free plan, restricting the functionality of live chats. For larger communities that want to host video meetups in Slack, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan or find another video solution. Live screen sharing, a potential support use case, is also not available on the free plan.
The Slack Free plan provides basic analytics about the membership of your workspace, but you’ll need to upgrade for more in-depth insights.
The free plan includes basic analytics on membership and messages, including:
While these analytics are a good start, many community managers find they don’t provide the depth of insights they need to deeply understand the health of their community on Slack or what action to take next.
The Pro plan provides additional data like membership and activity by channel or member.
An intelligent community growth platform like Common Room can provide more robust analytics for Slack and across all of your community channels—more on that below.
The Slack Pro plan offers more features, but at a price that community leaders may find to be out of their budget.
The investment for Slack’s Pro plan is $7.25 USD (per person, per month), which can be cost-prohibitive for larger communities in particular. For example, a community with 10,000 members would pay $72,500 monthly.
The cost of the Pro plan is more feasible for smaller communities like deeply engaged invite-only communities or communities of practice.
The Pro tier enhances the community features of the freemium plan with:
In addition to enhancing the basic features of Slack’s Free plan, the Pro tier also offers some additional community management features, like custom sidebars, custom workflows, and user groups in Slack.
The Pro plan allows you to organize your channels, direct messages, and apps into custom sections on your sidebar. Custom sections are unique to you and will not affect what other community members see.
Customized sidebars can enhance the member experience by giving community members control over their Slack view, making it easier for them to stay on top of the channels and conversations they’re most interested in.
With the Pro plan, you can automate multi-step tasks or processes that run in Slack or connect with other tools and services. This can save community teams time and energy.
A few examples of how custom workflows can help speed or automate community tasks:
User groups in Slack is another feature that comes with the Pro plan. User groups allow you to add members to specific cohorts, like “moderators” or “ambassadors.” You can then easily communicate with those members via @mentions (the same way you would tag an individual member) or automatically add them all to a new channel.
As indicated above, user groups in Slack can be a useful feature for managing ambassador and champion programs or other cohorts in your community.
After the Pro tier, there are two more Slack upgrades, and while these two levels don't necessarily lend themselves to community the way the Freemium and Pro plans do, it is still important to know what's out there.
Like the Pro plan, Business+ can be prohibitively expensive for larger communities at $12.50 USD (per person, per month). Business+ offers everything the Pro plan provides, plus another 10GB of storage per member and some additional features that can enhance the community experience, including:
This tier is truly meant for internal enterprise collaboration, not necessarily community building.
Like Business+, Enterprise Grid builds off the features of the lower tiers. At this level, you can customize Slack to meet your specific regulatory requirements and get access to a designated customer success team. The price will vary based on your specific needs.
The tier you choose should depend on your community’s needs—but before deciding on potentially costly Slack upgrades, consider the possibility of other platforms or tools and their benefits and limitations.
You can also consider an intelligent community growth platform that can optimize whichever Slack tier you are already using.
Common Room can enhance your Slack community management with specific features that augment Slack’s native capabilities in:
While Slack’s paid offerings are the only way your members will have ongoing access to the community’s historical conversations (from 90+ days prior), Slack also offers the ability for your team to keep this data through exports. This functionality, which is available with the free plan, ensures your team will always have a record of community activity and the insights members have shared.
Common Room also captures this data (without any exporting), and combines it with member activity from all your community sources to give you a single view into all the conversations and activity happening across your community—current and historical.
This unified, more comprehensive view applies to member profiles as well.
Common Room uses machine learning to detect if two (or more) community member profiles from different sources are the same person and combines them. This AI-powered functionality gives you a single, enriched view of each of your community members with data from Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn, GitHub, and even business applications like Salesforce or HubSpot.
The result is a single, robust profile for each of your members with key information like their role, email address, company, location, and other usernames from across community channels.
Common Room also lets you automate and scale community engagement with workflows. The feature enables community teams to save time on manual outreach and ensure consistent and high-value engagement with members, while still keeping that human touch.
Using customizable templates, teams can craft and launch engagement campaigns over Slack. Common use cases for workflows include welcoming and onboarding new members, re-engaging inactive members, messaging a specific cohort of users, and sending a survey question.
As your community grows, Common Room helps you stay on top of trending topics across Slack and all of your community channels.
With AI-powered natural language processing, Common Room topics synthesizes all community conversations into a digestible format to serve up what the community is talking about, trending themes, and sentiment changes related to each topic. These insights can help you monitor and measure the community's response to key events, identify members’ frequently asked questions, and gain insights to inform business decisions.
Common Room’s reporting functionality can also enhance your ability to understand and track the growth of your community on Slack and across all of your community channels. You can see your community health at a glance, including total membership, activity, and engagement rate as well as regional participation, response rate (are member’s questions being answered) and sentiment.
By combining community data with customer and product data, Common Room also makes it easy for community leaders to demonstrate the community’s impact on business. For instance, you can show how engagement in the Slack community accelerates deal close or how members who participate in the community are more likely to become or remain customers (customer acquisition and retention).
To learn more about how Common Room can enhance your community efforts on Slack, read Supercharge your Slack & Discord communities by integrating with Common Room. If you’re ready to get started today, you can also try the platform for free or request a demo.
For more on Slack community management, check out our ultimate guide with tips on where to start, best practices, and guidance for making key decisions.
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