Most of us know Slack as a powerful tool for internal communication, but Slack Communities—one of Slack’s lesser-known features, may be home to the future of brand-hosted conversation. Despite a relatively quiet launch in 2016, you can now find a Slack Community for everything from Startups to Star Wars. Slack Communities offer like-minded people a place to discuss common interests in real-time, often sharing in knowledge or working to help one another troubleshoot problems.
While there are over 2,000 Slack Communities out there, only a handful are brand-specific (Android and GoPro, to name a few), and those that are brand-specific aren’t necessarily owned or regulated by the brand itself. This presents an opportunity for brands to foster dialogue about their products or industry, gaining valuable insight, building loyalty, and earning new customers in the process. But how can brands incorporate Slack Communities into their marketing strategy without compromising authenticity?
At Room 214, we believe in being different, not just better. That adage rings especially true when brands are looking to test the waters of a new social platform. Before you create your Slack Community, take some time to define goals. Are you looking to create a space for customer support, a space for your customers to build meaningful relationships with one another, or a space for Slack users to chat generally about your industry as a whole? The goals you define before launch will allow you to stay intentional and keep the conversation on task. Starting with a plan will help your brand stay focused and create a beneficial Slack Community to be proud of.
Leverage Your Network
Getting your Slack Community off the ground and on the screens of the right people means you’ll need an active group of knowledgeable users. A great place to start is with your existing network. Let your stakeholders know that you’ve started a Slack Community through your email newsletter, social channels, and website to bring in users who are already engaged with your brand. Reaching out to industry leaders, personal connections, and even relevant social influencers can also be an effective way to help kickstart the discussion and bring your Community to a wider audience. While leveraging your pre-existing connections is great, the goal of every great social channel should be to reach a new audience, and the right audience. Consider running a paid campaign on social media to help potential customers find your Slack Community and gets you on track to reach those goals you set earlier.
Support, Don’t Sell
Users who join a topical Slack community aren’t looking to be sold on your brand or product, they want to learn and share with their fellow users. Consider creating a Community for your industry, rather than your brand specifically, as this will help reach a broader audience and allow for more authentic conversations. Your brand’s role in the Community should be as moderator—encouraging discussion and education that will ideally lead users to your brand organically.
Participate, Don’t Dominate
Depending on how your brand decides to use Slack Communities, it can be a great way to provide your customers with real-time support. The ability to help troubleshoot any potential issues quickly will help build your brand’s following and reputation. However, your Slack Community should be driven by the users, not you. Finding ways to engage with your customers without dominating the conversation is crucial. Help nudge the discussion along by asking topical questions or posting industry-related articles—this will allow you to gain valuable insight into how your customers think and keep the Community engaged.
Evaluate and Reassess
As with any endeavor, it’s crucial to benchmark your progress and re-evaluate your goals. As your Slack Community continues to grow, be sure to pay attention to the direction your users are heading. Listening to your customers will help the group continue to evolve and grow, rather than be stifled by the goals you may have started with. Like any media channel, your Slack Community should be a labor of love that gives people a meaningful and authentic way to connect with your brand.
Slack Communities are relatively new and untested waters for brands—but that also means you get to be creative and escape the established expectations for what a brand should look like on social media. Branded Communities are a growing trend, and allow brands to support customers, actively listen, and build brand loyalty all in one go. So, go boldly forward into the world of Slack, and welcome whatever questions, rants, and memes your Community throws at you.
It’s crucial to remember that Slack Communities are a place for (you guessed it), community. Neglecting the Community will likely lead to its slow death, and potential frustration from users who once valued the discourse. Moderators are responsible for keeping users in check, setting community guidelines, and ensuring that the group stays active. Your goal should be to create a welcoming place for Slack users to freely discuss whatever they see fit.