How should you structure your community on Slack?

This is a topic I see often from Slack community managers.

I faced this very issue years ago when tasked with a “dead” Slack community that not only needed reviving from an engagement perspective but also a major re-organization of channels and some serious work to grow the community.

Slack wasn’t created for community (it was created for teams) however there are still many cases where Slack communities thrive.

Here’s some common mistakes I see being made with Slack when trying to grow community…

Are you using Slack paid or the free option?

If you’re using the free option, members lose out on old messages as only the latest 10,000 messages are saved.

This can be disastrous for communities! Make sure to find an alternative way to store useful insights, documents etc before you lose them.

Rosie Sherry (a well-regarded community leader) wrote a great blog post on how to build a Community digital garden.

How many default channels do you have?

When a new community member joins your Slack group, they should see no more than FIVE default channels.

Ideally I’d be looking at THREE default channels (that includes general!).

The less noise the better.

Give your members the opportunity to join other channels that apply to THEM.

This will provide them with a more personal experience.

When a new member joins, the last thing they need to see is 15 channels that are all unread and they feel overwhelmed.

Even at 10 channels they’re feeling overwhelmed…

Many times those channels go unread anyway…

The structure of your slack should look like the following:

Default channels:

# Announcements/general news/ critical information – you should also include event updates in this channel and any major announcements

# Main product channel (call it by the product name). Channel is for product questions, feedback, tutorials etc.

# “Introduce yourself” type channel to help people get to know each other in the group

You can of course have other channels, but take the time to create these depending on how the conversations in the above three channels go.

If there’s TOO much chatter in one of the channels about a certain topic, you can spin this off into a new channel.

See how this is a better solution than creating so many channels and struggling to get any engagement in any of them?

Then give new members the ability to sign up for the channels depending on their interests.

You can include this in your onboarding message to members: “Remember to check out our other channels and join the ones you are interested in!”.

Those optional channels can include:

# A fun/ “human” channel, it could be “gifs_only” or a channel for people to share things about their life. Used to be under “random” but I think it’s more fun to name it something more awesome than that.

# AMA channel – be clear who is in the channel as the “experts”/”support people”.

# Resources

# Ambassadors (I would consider making this a private channel, like an exclusive club). 

Etc 

These additional channels really depend on your community needs. 

If you already have a slack community and notice you have WAY too many channels, you’re not alone!

So many community managers who use Slack find themselves in this dilemma.

Here’s some tips to reduce your channel list:

  • If you have a #general channel and an #announcements channel, I recommend cutting one of these out. There’s no reason to have both…

  • Are there any “dead” channels with zero interaction in the past couple of months? Consider archiving these. Talk to the members in the channel.

  • Are there channels that are confusing, where members are posting the wrong content? Consider changing the names or combining channels into one.

I hope that’s helped walk you through the way I structure communities on Slack.

Twitter: @acommunitycoach
Email: carmen@communitycoach.me

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