Online collaboration has come a long way since the dawn of email communication. We’ve seen how group video chats and social media platforms have made it easier than ever before to work with a talented team, but now there’s another new alternative to those platforms – Slack.
We’ll explore how Slack works and how its various communities can help you with almost anything, from marketing your brand to finding potential business partners.
What is Slack?
In case your business doesn’t already use Slack, let’s begin with simple definitions. Imagine the real-time messaging features of an IM (instant messenger, like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp), combined with the tools and file support of an email service. Groups and organizations can even split up chatter into channels for various topics, such as marketing, team introductions, or even client feedback. Best of all, everything is located in one place, accessible via mobile or desktop. It’s so useful, that it’s not the first time we’ve recommended it!
Slack’s powerful integrations and ease of use have lead to popular brands such as eBay, Buzzfeed, AirBnB, Target, Ticketmaster and many more adopting the service as their business’ default communication app.
What is a Slack community?
Slack is no longer just for internal business use anymore. As the name implies, Slack communities are open Slack groups comprised of multiple members (sometimes in the hundreds!) who collaborate and communicate with each other on a spectrum of topics, some of which may involve:
- Mobilizing activists for a demonstration
- Networking with online marketers and developers
- Tracking the development of a crowdfunded product
- Fanbases for popular music groups
- And many more.
While many of Slack communities are open, most will gate access to prevent spammers and bots, by including an entry charge, an email verification, or even a referral invite. The best Slack communities are able to balance active moderation (such as banning abusive members) and open dialogue.
The benefits of joining a Slack community
Wide user base
This year, Slack announced it had reached 8 million daily active users. Certainly, that’s an astonishing feat for Slack, but just think— any one of those users could be a future collaborator to your business! Although Slack doesn’t have a search function for Slack communities, that hasn’t stopped third-parties from creating their own search tools. Today, you can find hundreds of communities, each specializing in a topic of your choosing to help grow your network.
Easy to use
You don’t need to download any auxiliary app/program (although Slack offers these too), or have any special knowledge to get started with Slack – it works as soon as it’s set up. The simple yet effective user interface features a clean, distraction-free design: chat history on the right, channels and user chats on the left. That’s all you and your team needs to know to start using Slack.
The Slack App directory features a growing list of Slack integrations, which range from streamlining your workflow to adding a fun GIF in your messages. Google Drive, Trello, Asana, Dropbox, Salesforce and even Giphy all have integrations for Slack. Email, video chat, and CRM integrations are fairly popular for many groups, although cases vary. Users may even request their admin to install an integration they want.
Missed an important conversation? Just search for it. The search function within slack is powerful in that it can help you understand the context of the ongoing discussion by allowing you to apply search filters, qualifying results by date, channel, or user. Anyone on the team can search for the same conversations, so no one is ever really left out of the loop.
Channels are one of the biggest advantages in Slack’s organization. Channels can be set up differently for each team or project, and members can be added as needed. Channels are best for separating various conversations, keeping the topic focused and the discussion productive.
If you needed any other reason, Slack communities are almost always free, even when the group reaches hundreds of users. Keep in mind that communities on a free plan will have a limited archive, meaning that messages past a certain time will not be searchable.
What are the best online slack communities?
For Marketers: Online Geniuses
Online Geniuses is the largest slack community for marketers with more than 15,000 members. You can meet and consult real industry experts, from CEOs to web developers, and engage with people through AMAs, CRO teardowns and other special events. You can even hire freelancers and attend in-person meet-ups. With so many people, there’s always something new to be found in this Slack.
Application: Yes, six-question form.
For Startup Founders: #Startup
Developed by the Startup Foundation, #Startup is one of the most successful international groups on Slack to date, boasting of more than 7,000 founders around the globe. Be a part of Q&A and AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) sessions with other startup founders, or get some insight and feedback on your own company – the possibilities of this network are endless!
Application: Yes, a three-question form
Fee: Yes, $29 one-time contribution
For Freelancers and Remote Workers: Nomad List
Slack has cultivated a following with freelancers and other remote workers for its accessibility and speed, so it’s no surprise that one of Slack’s biggest communities is one that involves travelers and digital nomads from around the world. Nomad List involves more than 6,000 members, each one sharing tips on the best place to stay or work in another country.
Application: Yes, with Facebook or Twitter
How do I find and join a Slack community?
There are talks of Slack working on an open community search bar, but until then, you can look to the many lists and directories other websites have created to help you find a community of your own. Here are a few:
- Slack List – a handpicked selection of the top communities in Slack, from tech to music.
- Standuply’s List – a list of 2000 slack communities and groups, started in 2016.
- Inc.’s 97 Best Slack Communities – an article from Inc. on design, business, development and more.
Each Slack community is different, meaning that each application process is unique. Some may charge a fee, while others will be totally free. Once you find a Slack community you want to join, it’s as simple as following their application process and then creating a Slack account under their organization.
While optional, you may also want to download the Slack app on your laptop or mobile device to follow the conversation wherever you are. Since Slack is real-time, people are always talking!
Slack communities demonstrate that you don’t need to go to expensive conferences or networking events to meet like-minded individuals. You can meet them right on Slack. Once you find the right community, it’s a matter of staying active, being curious, and getting to know other members.
Know of a Slack community we should highlight? Message us through our Twitter (@NovelCoworking) and Facebook. Follow our blog for more insights on tools, tips, and tricks for every kind of creative and entrepreneur.