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Understanding Slack community management

Understanding Slack community management

“Why should my organization focus on growing a Slack community? Are its features a good fit for our needs?” These are some of the questions you may be contemplating as you evaluate the prospect of Slack community management. Let’s take a look at the defining characteristics of managing a community on Slack today.

Slack presents a powerful opportunity to grow and nurture a thriving B2B community. But to get the most out of it, you first need to understand:

  • Why Slack is ideal for community building
  • How Slack compares to other community channels
  • What Slack offers in terms of community management features
  • Options for engaging your community and measuring its growth

Read on to find out if managing a community on Slack is right for your business, plus tips and best practices for getting the most out of the platform.

Why use Slack for community management?

Whether you’re looking to scale a community from the ground up or you already have a thriving community of champions, creators, and contributors, Slack is a valuable platform for community managers in the B2B, and sometimes B2C space.

Some of the most appealing aspects of using Slack for community management include:

  • Robust community management features. Slack provides a wide range of features to help you provide the best possible experience for your community.
  • Widespread adoption. Many professionals are already using Slack in their day-to-day work, which means there is minimal friction in getting them to join your community.
  • Free tier. There is virtually no financial risk in getting started with community management on Slack’s free tier.
  • Integrations. Slack boasts over 2,400 integrations to streamline your workflows and engage your community members.

The other benefit of using Slack for community management is that a large percentage of today’s workforce is already using Slack. As a result, there’s no learning curve for members upon joining these communities.

Additionally, anyone with Slack can join an unlimited number of Slack workspaces for free, so there’s no additional cost to your members. With Slack’s 12 million+ daily active users, many businesses have found success engaging community members inside the application since it’s where they already work and collaborate.

What’s different about Slack communities?

Slack’s widespread popularity and easy-to-use interface are some of the main factors that set it apart from other community platforms and forums. Many also find Slack’s combination of informality and intimacy to be a plus: firing off a direct message on Slack feels a lot lower stakes and more personal than creating a post on Facebook or sending a private message over LinkedIn.

At the same time, community managers and those with administrative privileges are able to customize the way in which community members join. By default, folks need an invitation to join a Slack workspace, however many businesses utilize a public-facing landing page or link on their website to maximize their reach. Some may also choose to have prospective members fill out a quick questionnaire or survey to learn more about their background and make sure they understand the rules and expectations of joining the community.

Many people are already using Slack at work, so inviting them to join your community and contribute as much as they’d like won’t require them to change anything about their existing routines or workflows. In this way, engaging new members on Slack is a uniquely seamless experience.

Helpful features for community managers

While Slack has a wide range of applications and use cases, it does have several features that naturally lend themselves to community management. Here’s a quick rundown of Slack’s most beneficial community management features:

  • Channels. Channels allow community managers to create different rooms or tabs within their Slack workspace to facilitate discussions about separate topics. This helps keep conversations focused on a specific topic or theme, plus community managers always have the ability to create additional channels as new subjects arise.
  • Threads. Threads are embedded replies to responses within channels or private chats. They allow community members to have rapid-fire back-and-forths related to posted comments or conversations without clogging the UI.
  • Profile customization. Slack gives community moderators and members the option to customize their profiles so they can add a touch of individuality and personalization to their avatar, description, and bio.
  • Private messages. The private messaging feature allows community members to send messages directly to specific users.
  • Automation. Moderators can program automated responses to specified community actions. These pre-set, customizable responses are configured based on trigger words or phrases.

Slack community engagement

Keeping members engaged is one of your primary goals as a community manager. There are several responsibilities that fall under this umbrella: marketing and moderating the community, setting up a code of conduct, choosing topics for various channels, and promoting relevant assets and events within the community.

Each of these activities requires you and your supporting team members to stay responsive and up-to-date on the interests, aspirations, and concerns of community members.

Staying on trend with the latest industry developments, rules for moderation as challenges arise, and experimenting with new marketing strategies are key to growing a healthy, vibrant community.

Below are a few tips for building and maintaining a community on Slack.

Market your community

Marketing your community is a must if you want to continually expand your reach and influence. Integrating your community growth efforts with existing marketing initiatives and channels (website content, email, social, etc.) to get your Slack community in front of the right audience is a good way to target potential members.

For example, including a call to action for joining your Slack community at the bottom of blog posts, as a plug in podcast episodes, or as a clickable graphic in email campaigns can help you get the word out. Similarly, leveraging your existing social media accounts to tweet about your new community can boost awareness.

Set up a code of conduct

Creating and posting a community code of conduct to set expectations for acceptable behavior helps to simplify the moderation process and ensures all members are aware of the group’s expectations and guidelines.

This code of conduct can be pinned to general channels so that all members can easily view the rules, or you can use automation to send it to new community members by default. Other areas you might consider addressing in your code of conduct include privacy, message retention, harassment, reporting issues, and consequences for members who violate the code of conduct.

Approve new members

If you decide to make your Slack community invite-only, you will have control over who gets approved to join the workspace. Some communities are hyper-specific—for example, some developer communities only accept members who work in a developer role at their current company. Others might take a more lax approach to include members like students on a developer career path, or those learning about the field and hoping to make a career switch.

As mentioned above, you might consider creating a form on any public-facing community invite pages that people can use to describe themselves, their company, and/or their skills and aspirations. This helps give you more insight into who wants to join your community, plus it gives prospective members signals about what the community will entail and whether or not it’s the right fit for their goals and needs.

Streamline moderation

Implementing your code of conduct and community guidelines is key to maintaining order within your community.

Since you can’t realistically comb through every message between members manually, automations programmed to flag inappropriate content can take a considerable degree of manual effort out of this process.

You might also leverage an intelligent community growth platform to gain greater visibility into member activity across all community channels, including Slack, Discord, GitHub, and more. Tools like Common Room automatically surface relevant, topical, trending or inappropriate content or activity across channels, saving time on what would otherwise be an arduous, manual process. For example, dbt Labs uses Common Room to increase the effectiveness of moderation while providing an A+ community experience and building strong, long-lasting relationships.

Choosing channel topics

Deciding which topics each of your channels will be devoted to is another important aspect of building a community on Slack. The topics you choose will dictate not only what the members discuss, but what the community is known for.

It’s wise to carefully consider both your ideal member and the goals of your company when deciding on channel topics. For example, if you want to build a community of customer success managers, you may want to have one channel devoted to CS job openings, one devoted to peer questions, and one devoted to industry events in the customer success space, among other channels.

Considering the needs of your business, you might also want to promote brand awareness by including a channel for new resources and content to ensure your marketing assets deliver maximum value.

Measuring the growth of your Slack community

Every community and every company will have slightly different goals. But most community managers want to keep their finger on the pulse of how their community is growing and how the community is facilitating members becoming customers.

When measuring community growth, you might include metrics like:

  • Number of members in you community and month-over-month growth
  • Breakdown of members by type (influencers, contributors, creators, etc.)
  • Percentage of members who are actively engaging in the community
  • Total volume of platform activity (messages, replies, channel usage, etc.)
  • Company-related trending topics, such as feature requests or product appreciation
  • Response rate (number of messages or conversations with at least one reply)
  • Reach and engagement related of product-related messages and education

Once you set a performance baseline for these kinds of metrics, you can set specific goals and KPIs. For example, you might set a goal to maintain a 10% month-over-month growth rate in your total number of community members.

With those goals in hand, you can confidently demonstrate the impact of the community — and your work in it — to your stakeholders. As you continue to grow membership and engagement in your Slack community, you'll ultimately be able to show how the community drives business impact across your organization.

To intelligently engage and grow your community, try Common Room for free today. Looking for more about building a community on Slack? Check out some best practices for building community on Slack and connect with 1000+ community and DevRel leaders to share expertise and ask questions in the Uncommon community Slack.

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