You Ask, I Answer: Building Communities on Slack?

Belle asks, “I’ve always picked up from you guys something along the lines of ‘don’t build on other peoples land’ and ‘work on building your email lists’ which all make sense if other platforms disappeared you still have your contacts and I’ve lived by it. But now you seem to be promoting building on Slack, am I missing something here? What if the community you build on Slack you can no longer access? Or are you exporting emails?”

You’re right that Slack isn’t an owned property, but the registration process through email certainly is, and that’s how we’d restart a community in case things changed. That’s not something you get from other social networks. We have looked at alternatives on servers you host, such as Mattermost.

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In today’s episode Bell asks, I’ve always picked up from you guys that something along the lines of don’t build on other people’s land and work on building your email list which all makes sense of other platforms disappeared.

You still have your contacts and I’ve lived by it.

But now you seem to be promoting building on slack.

Am I missing something here one of the community you built on Slack, you can no longer access? Are you exploiting emails? Bell you’re exactly right.

on both counts.

slack is not an own property.

It is a SaaS based platform and unless they could theoretically vanish at any time, but what we’ve done for the analytics for marketers community which by the way, if you’re not a member of go to Trust insights.ai slash analytics for markers, is used a piece of software called Community inviter community divider captures the email address and make sure that you’re invited to the community, but it also of course, gives the community owner a list of the people who have registered To join the community, that in turn gives us the ability to reach out to that list if we need to, for any reason, but especially if we would have to migrate services.

And that’s really one of the major benefits of using a system like that.

You can always reach out and ping somebody.

And unlike a standard email form, the good news is that all the emails work, because that’s how you get into the community.

So if somebody wants to join the community, that would be how to do that.

You don’t get that from any other social network at all.

You used to up until November of 2018, you used to be able to get out of LinkedIn.

But that has since largely been deprecated, by LinkedIn making, sharing your email address with your contacts, not the default, you actually can still go in and set that but that is typically done mostly by sales professionals who want other people contacting them which was totally fine.

So this particular A system of using community inviter for slack does give us access to the emails that people used to register for the community.

We have looked at other collaboration software that would be run on servers that we run that we own.

The principle one there would be a piece of software called matter most, which a lot of companies that are in highly regulated industries use.

Because you run it on your own servers, it can be run inside your firewall if you need to.

It is more cumbersome.

And the reason we didn’t go that route for the Trust Insights community is not because we wanted to run our own servers or not, but because it is an uncommon platform.

When somebody has the slack client on their desktop and on their phone, browser and such.

It is easier for them to just add themselves to a new slack community than it is For them to install, yet another app that they may or may not check.

Again, we did give it some thought because if somebody installs an app just for you, that’s not a bad thing.

But there is more overhead and less likelihood of them participating than if it’s an app that they have to have open for work all the time, right? If you’re at a company that uses slack internally for collaboration you have it on.

And therefore, if the communities you’re also a part of dropping messages and things, then you will be more likely to participate because it’s, it’s no extra overhead.

You don’t have to open up an app, you don’t have to open up a new tab in your browser.

It’s there already.

And that was the primary consideration for why we stuck with slack.

Now, if that changes, then we activate the backup plan.

But until that changes, I don’t see a need to make that pivot yet but I think your point is a fantastic one, which is, have a backup plan, right? Be where and when possible build on land that you own your website, your email lists, your text messaging, list all that stuff, and have a plan B so that if things do go sideways, if slack loses all its funding, it will, or it decides that we’re going to charge everybody now you have the ability to pivot and go do something else.

So I would say, keep your eyes on the collaboration space.

I think 2020 as the year will be an exciting year for collaboration for what is possible.

The other thing that we really like about Slack, which is tough to replicate with a lot of other standalone platforms is that it has a tremendous number of third party add ons.

The ability to do all sorts of fancy polls to do integrations with Google Drive and Dropbox.

The other packages are not there yet.

They will get there they should get there.

They won’t have any hope of competing with slack.

But for right now, because it’s the market leader, there are a ton of integrations for it that make it the best default choice, at least for reaching a certain type of audience, which is another consideration.

There are plenty of marketers who are not on slack.

And that’s where other social media channels where your email newsletter in particular is very useful as you have some avenue of communication with folks who aren’t on slack.

But what we found is when we look at our customer base, we look at the companies they work at and the technologies they use.

A significant majority of them are also the type of company that uses slack.

So when it comes to how you want to configure community collaboration and what service to go on, unfortunately, a big part of it has to be where people are.

So for some companies as much as I I would strongly discourage it.

They might have to build on like a Facebook groups, if that’s 100% of where your audiences and your audience is unwilling to go anywhere else.

At the end of the day, you have to go where your audience is.

We chose not to do that because the group’s compete with a newsfeed.

And so the engagement was incredibly low, incredibly low.

When we ran a Facebook group, it was, you know, two or three people seeing a post out of at the time 100, much less responding to it.

So when 98% of your community can’t even see what you’re posting is definitely an issue.

So good question.

The mindset is great.

build on what you own control as much as you can, so that if the ground changes if the rug gets yanked out from under you, you’re not left high and dry with something that you no longer have control of.

There is a nonzero possibility that slack will do that.

We don’t see any signs of it yet.

Doesn’t mean it can’t change.

They got acquired tomorrow or they got bought out.

Who knows but having the list and having Plan B ready to go, definitely helps with that.

So really good question.

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