Imagine inviting 20, 500, or 10,000 of your closest friends to a party and then forgetting to give them the address. You've got them super excited about your event, but now they can only reply to your emails to find out more. Yikes.
If you're building your community with just email marketing, you're doing just that. Isn't it time you start to have actual conversations with your email subscribers?
One way to scale your business, improve support times, and have a pulse on your customer's
needs is to give them the opportunity to join the discussion, share their voices, and
spark new and engaging dialogue.
In other words, don't just give them a sense of community, help them build a community. Today I’m going to share how to use Slack to build that community.
3 reasons why Slack is great for your business
Most online courses or trainings include a free Facebook group, but these groups have become crowded and overdone. Slack is a private, less distracting alternative with several benefits.
So what is Slack?
It’s a messaging app for teams. But there are tons of those, right? So here are a few reasons why Slack might be the right choice for you.
In Slack, you have more control over your notifications. You decide what is important to you and what's not. There’s even two features that allow you to cut through the notification clutter and reduce the noise.
- /leave will protect your time and leave a channel
- /mute will silence a distracting channel without leaving
Everyone has a voice on Slack because there's less competition to be heard. And you can keep up through notifications whenever someone responds to what you want to hear– ie posts, reacts, or replies to a thread. The default notification settings also allow you to receive notifications from everyone in all channels.
Slack has a free and a paid option. It's free option offers unlimited users and no trial period. As long as you don't need additional apps or integrations, you can have a free account forever.
Starting a group on Slack is similar to training for a marathon– you've got to be committed, and you can’t just rush in.
While community building is essential for any business looking to connect with its customers and scale, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Don't create a Slack channel until you're ready to commit to marketing and moderating it.
Because Slack teams don't have the built-in advertising of other social media groups, it's important to create a marketing strategy so you can keep a steady stream of new users coming in the virtual doors. This is critical if you have high engagement.
How to use Slack to grow your online business
Now that you know why Slack is a great choice to engage with your community, you need to make it worth your time. The easiest way to make your Slack channel drive business results is to tie your group back to the heart of your business: your customers and your mission. Here are three ways to make sure your group drives business results.
Keep them talking
Engage with your customers daily to keep your business top of mind.
One great way to do this is by using polls to take the pulse of the community. How do they feel about a new offering? Is the Slack group helpful? Slack integrates with several tools, like Simple Poll, that allow you to get the answers to your questions in mere minutes. This will help you create new products and offerings that align with your customers' needs.
Promote your business (with moderation)
Use a Slack app, like Marker, to share screenshots of a new feature. You can do this in a public channel or a customers only channel to add value. This allows you to promote your product through trainings and/or demonstrations versus constantly asking for the sale.
Curate relevant content from the web
When you curate content for your customers, you’re saving them time and adding value to their overall experience.
For instance, if you're a lifestyle blogger who posts content about motherhood, you could create a subgroup on minimalist fashion. Then, you could use Diggbot to find and share posts on ‘creating your ideal capsule wardrobe.'
Tracking Slack metrics
There are two types of metrics that you want to track: those that impact customers vs. those that benefit the business.
Metrics to track for your community engagement
Do you want to know how many people are active or when are they posting?
Slack has simple analytics that any user can access and understand to access the health of the group.
Metrics important to business results
Slack lets you create a free listening tool which can give you incredible feedback from a product development and support perspective. It will also help you measure the effectiveness and visibility of your promo posts.
How ConvertKit uses Slack
While we love being a remote company, there are a some disadvantages that come with our kind of free working environment– mainly that we don’t get to see each other every day. And when you work with amazing people like we do, you have to figure out a way to make everyone feel as close as possible, even if they’re on the other side of the world. To do that, we use Slack.
For our own internal community, we use Slack as our own watercooler (we may or may not have a channel completely dedicated to Game of Thrones and another one for our pictures of our puppies), a place to hash out details of a project, and a quick way to contact each other.
We also use it for our own customer support channel in Slack. It’s a place where our customers can chat with and give each other advice about ConvertKit specifics.
So when it came time to create a group for our Product Creation Masterclass (PCM) students, Slack again was an obvious choice.
We used Slack because we wanted our PCM students to connect with each other easily in a less distracting environment. We also wanted to improve their chances of success by tapping into the innate benefits of a community: accountability, friendly competition, and motivation.
Our decision to use Slack was a great move and offered several benefits to both the ConvertKit team and our students. It allowed our team to:
- Reduce tickets to our support email
- Decrease response times
- Curate testimonials in real-time
- Support our students in a new way
It also helped our students feel seen and supported, which motivated them to complete the course. Slack also allowed students to raise their concerns and tag specific team members. Their suggestions were used to help us improve the content and develop relevant webinar material.
How to use Slack for your community
The possibilities are endless when it comes to Slack, but there are some best practices I think you should know. You can’t just start a group and expect it to win everyone over. Here’s how to put in the right work to build an engaged community.
Start with a small group
We wanted our Slack community small to be exclusive, so we limited it to PCM students and didn't open it up to everyone. The ConvertKit team could have pushed PCM students to our existing Facebook group, but that wouldn't have been in the students’ best interest, and their posts would get buried by other non-PCM related posts.
We ensured that everyone felt heard by creating a posting and moderating schedule for our team. With this schedule, we knew who was helping our students and when they'd be in the group.
Create niched down channels
Niching down your channels allows you to increase engagement and activates your super users as everyday heroes. They're able to jump in and answer questions quickly and easily.
We do this for our ConvertKit community for customers on Slack. This helps us filter out the types of questions that come up.
Our team members have a schedule to make sure someone is available to answer questions and engage with our users. Our ConvertKit Experts are also in our community for customers to answer questions and post helpful resources.
But, the work doesn't stop there. Now that you've created your Slack channel and got it running, you need to promote it. Here are a few suggestions to help you share your new group.
Email your list
Don’t assume your subscribers know about your group. Invite them early and often to join your Slack community.
Add your Slack channel to your bios on social media
Use a simple opt-in page to share your free community. (example: https://iosstack-friends.signup.team/)
Use social media
Schedule tweets, photos, videos, and posts to share on your social media profiles.
Activate your community
Create a simple “share this” community page and invite your subscribers and followers to share the page.
Start your Slack community today!
Now it's your turn. Want to create an exclusive online group, but you're over Facebook Groups? Slack could be the tool for you.