So you want to start a Slack community? In order for your community to be successful, you must think with the end in mind.
While this guide is somewhat Slack specific, many of the tips and thoughts apply to any community whether it's on Slack or not.
You need a community strategy.
Outline what the goals are for the community: whether that's to earn an income, give people a forum to talk about a shared interest if your community is more casual in nature, to convert prospective clients into paying customers, to serve as a customer support channel, or a place to nurture product evangelism. Then create an outline of strategic items such as how you will funnel users into the community, and what processes the community processes will have.
Set metrics and projections
When building a Slack community it is important to set metrics and track what is working and what is not working – this allows the community to stay dynamic and allows community leaders to see what discussion topics or themes are working well for their specific goals (e.g engagement, traffic or new members). No need for advanced analytics here – set simple weekly or monthly community member growth goals for example, or try to ensure that every single new member introduces themselves and engages at least once during the first week.
Create a community policy
It is also important to set guidelines for the community itself – this facilitates conversation that is respectful, appropriate and relevant to community members. Keeping these guidelines simple is ideal for digital community culture. It is best to pin this somewhere highly visible in a Slack channel.
Build an Admin team and have an active Community Manager
In the age of bots its easier for people to get complacent and not participate in community management. If you don't already have a designated Community Manager or Admin, it's time to get one. Community management is extremely important because a successful and engaging community is one that is well-maintained with active, responsive leadership.
Get bots to work for you
Slack Bots are your friend. Properly leveraging the right Slack bot integrations will help a community manager multiply their presence. Here are some of our favorites:
Donut – a bot that you can configure to regularly pair up two community members via DM to meet!
GreetBot – a friendly on-boarding assistant that can DM every new member of your Slack workspace. The 'Welcome' message is fully customizable – you should consider having it tell a new community member to follow a basic checklist such as a link to your community policy, a description of what types of content goes in which channel, and reminding them to set a profile picture, Slack bio, and to introduce themselves in #introductions.
Polly – a polling app. Polls are an easy and fun way to get community members engaged by answering questions.
Optimizing your Slack workspace settings for a community
Since Slack was originally designed as a team-based corporate communication tool, there are a few workspace settings you should tweak to make it more community-oriented, including:
- Setting up custom statuses
- Setting up custom emoji's
- Go through the checklist of Slack permissions (eg. channel creation, use of @channel) and ensure that only admins and workspace owners can use these key features.
- Ensure only admins can install bots and configure third party applications
- Consider restricting 'e-mail' addresses from showing up on user profiles, most community members value e-mail privacy!
Other Slack rules of the road
- Don't have more than 6-8 channels (eg. #welcome, #introductions, and
- Ensure moderators are the only ones who can create channels, tag @everyone, @here, or @channel.
- Create a content schedule (suggest using an Airtable or Google Sheets) with info such as dates, what channel the content will belong in, etc.
- The key here is having consistency – eg. having a "Chart of the week!" posted every Monday , scheduling a chat-based 'ask-me-anything' AMA session every Wednesday, and then a regular Friday question like "What did everyone do this week?"
- Seed the group with content so new members have a place to go. Have 1-2 posts with reply threads of content in each channel so the initial members have things to sink their teeth into!
- Encourage community members to use threads when messaging, otherwise the main chat feed could get messy.
- Create a starter thread of Slack tips & tricks for new members to follow (eg. dark mode, themes, changing notifications)
Questions about this article or need advice as you setup your Slack community? Send us a message, we'd be happy to help! firstname.lastname@example.org.