By @TheMarkDalton.

Last year, Slack experienced phenomenal growth. Slack is a powerful real-time messaging app and currently it has seen the most popularity among companies or teams of bloggers and creators working together on the same company, website or project. 

Companies such as eBay, Buzzfeed and Buffer are all using Slack which is seen as the potential future of internal email. Many teams have been using Slack as an alternative to internal email due to how fast and powerful the communication can be between team members.

Slack’s free version of the app is packed full of features, there is no time limit and no user cap. Slack is now expanding beyond these companies and there is a wide range of communities springing up on Slack where people are engaging and connecting online.

There is a big directory of “open Slack communities” where people share knowledge, valuable resources and information as well as meeting new people and forging new network connections after filling out some basic details on an application form.

However there are also some real gems out there at the moment in communities which you apply to. These require a bit more information when applying (some of them are paid membership but many of them are free) where you simply fill out a form, provide some information about yourself and why you want to join. The group admin will then send an invite should you tick the boxes of what they group is looking for.

I have been invited to Slack groups before for beta application testing however I also decided to apply for the Online Geniuses and Buffer Slack communities. Both applications were accepted and I started exploring the different Slack chatrooms and posting.

No sooner had I introduced myself I had people messaging me on Slack (on both communities) telling me they are Irish Tech News readers and telling me how much they enjoy reading the website. It was pretty cool to be connected to readers on a different platform!

Even more amazing was that a man called Joe Glover sent me a business related message. Forging business connections literally about ten minutes after I introduced myself!

So why are communities on Slack experiencing such success recently?

More attention, low competition.

At the moment this is a “new” approach to communities. Start one now and you could get in before anyone else does.

As it stands, creating a community on the Slack platform could lead you to reap the rewards as there is less competition compared to other platforms at the moment. At some point that will change and community creation on Slack will be highly competitive so get in there now before someone else does!

High Engagement.

Slack also drives high engagement due to the fact it is a real-time messaging application. It is instant and a lot less cumbersome, boring and tedious as using email. Users tend to check in with what is going on in the group much more often then they would check other platforms or applications.

You can direct message, you can upload files and you can do it all for free. Setting up communities and using them costs nothing.


Should you decide to create a community on Slack here are some tips on how to get it going and get the word out there.

1. Invite users with a sign up form.

This is the only way you can join a Slack group. You have to be invited by the administrator. So in order to collect information from users who may be interested in your group you will need to create a form.

You can use a service such as Typeform or Google Forms – make sure you keep it short and sweet, you only need the basic details such as name, email, why they want to join and links to their social media profiles.

2. Reach out to influencers. 

If you get the topic right with the fact that there is less competition over communities on the platform at present then you could find it gains traction with little to no work from you.

Owen Williams, a tech blogger, described his Slack experience:

“Last month, I personally started a public Slack for just talking about tech news and it jumped to 90 users within just a few weeks and almost no effort on my part. As it turns out, people on the internet like a more private place to hangout and chat that isn’t necessarily Twitter.”

Regardless it is a good idea to compile a list of maybe 15-20 influencers such as high profile social media personalities, websites and blogs to reach out to. They can help spread the word if they like what they see.

3. Promote on social media.

Don’t forget other social media tools and platforms. Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever other platform you want to spread the news of your Slack community. Use relevant hashtags to extend reach further than your immediate followers.


Keep it friendly. 

Now that you have the community up and you have people using it all you have to do is run it. Like with any typical online forum you will want to keep it clean and try keep positive vibes going throughout.

Make sure you create a clear cohesive policy of what is expected from your Slack members. Don’t make it too taxing and too over the top, we don’t want people ruling with an iron fist, people will get bored of that and won’t contribute. Slack is casual and free-form, your rules or guidelines should reflect that.

However, just layout some basic expectations and some simple ground rules. To upload your guidelines into Slack, log in, click “Menu” and then “Files,” and then paste the rules into a new post.

Slack allows you to monitor certain words or phrases so you can get notified for certain profanities or slurs. You will be alerted if there is a violation of the rules and you can deal with the problem quickly.


 

Slack is a powerful too for team communication and is now growing in power for communities and groups. There is a chance for brands to jump on board and possibly create a fantastic community now which could see them leading a large group on Slack in a year from now.

Slack is growing fast and will continue to grow over the coming years so the key is to get in there now. This is the opportunity to create a community which could turn out to be big so if you have an idea then make sure you do it!

It is possible that communities on Slack could take off so quickly that the opportunity may be gone in a months time.

On the note of Slack security as one of our readers brought up on Twitter, Slack has two-factor authentication which can be activated from your profile and it is highly recommended you use these to prevent any possible intrusions into your account. All Slack passwords use a one-way encryption technique called “hashing” however using two factor authentication will mitigate any security concerns you may have.

Slack is available on a web interface, Android and iOS. There is also a Mac app which can be downloaded from the App Store.

 

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