Build your advocacy community on Slack

Slack has become a go-to platform for B2B communities. It isn’t perfect, but it’s free and extremely attractive for membership because many online professionals are already using it.

Community experts would argue that Slack was never a great choice for the community because there are a few drawbacks to using it, but I believe it’s that way with every platform; there’s no perfect choice.

That being said, the two biggest drawbacks are:

  • No content for SEO & content lost (fixed with a few automations)
  • Lack of member & activity tracking/metrics (fixed with new tools)

These are both easy enough to fix, but that’s another post.

Why Use Slack for An Advocacy Community

Slack is a great platform in that it is free, so you won’t have any internal struggles with legal, budget or getting buy-in.

It’s also perfect because there are awesome tools (yes, I’m from the 80’s) that make it easy to track your members and their activity. And, you can set up some automations to save great content for your website – free!

Since you are working on your advocacy program with this community, you will miss having a program that tracks advocate actions, like Influitive, Slapfive, Orca, or Refedge. But there are other tools you can use to track this, for now. The main draw here is getting your advocates (or customers) together in a community.

How to Use Slack for Your Advocacy Community

To start, I suggest starting a new Slack community just for customers; it’ll get messy fast if you combine it with your existing company Slack.

You’ll want to start with a phased approach since the platform is free, and you don’t have internal pressure to show off your investment.

In a phased approach, you can grow your community slowly, which is ideal for building real relationships.

Slack Advocate Community Phased Approach

You are probably doing this while also running your Customer Marketing program, so you can’t give it your full attention yet. I’d focus on doing this with your long-term program time slots.

Here’s what the approach looks like:

  1. Share your idea to build a community with your closest teams: Customer Success, Onboarding, Revenue, Product, and Marketing & get their feedback and ideas.

Ask them for recommendations on customer programs.

  1. Ask your current advocates what programs they’d be interested in
  • Customer programs are the easiest way to grow your community; here are a few ideas: Topic calls – 1x per week
  • Customer introductions & matches
  • Roundtable program
  • Mentorship program
  • Mini, live courses
  • Office hours
  1. As members join your program – whatever it is – introduce yourself, have a chat, and get on a call if they’d like. You want to learn about their needs in the industry, with your company, etc.
    Find ways to help them get the right resources, connections, and education.
  1. Once you have at least 100 customers participating in some kind of program with you, survey them and ask if they’d be interested in joining a community.
  2. You’ll invite interested customers to the new Slack community. Be specific: they are beta members; you want their feedback and suggestions.
  3. Start posting regular content – you won’t want to lose momentum to encourage members to post questions, share their successes, etc. This all starts with having 1:1 relationships with you first.
  4. Host bi-weekly or weekly calls so members can get to know one another.
  5. Make sure you introduce members to each other to build connections.
  6. Look for similarities among your members and use that to identify the right customers to invite to your community (likely through your customer programs).
  7. When you are ready, work with your internal teams to get invitations out to all customers and ensure the ongoing promotion of the community.

Running Advocacy Campaigns Through Slack

There are 3 tools that I like for a CRM for your Slack program, and to keep track of activities, gifts, etc., you should use one of them: SavannahCRM (recently changed pricing to $50 a month), CommonRoom (Free but pushes their enterprise level accounts), and Orbit (also free).

SavannahCRM only imports your active members, so you will likely want to use CommonRoom, which has segmentation for members, imports all members, and allows tagging (which you will use for your campaigns, etc.).

When you decide to run a campaign in Slack, you’ll want to document who participates, the dates, and the activity.

Given that you are using Slack, there are a LOT of automations you can run through Zapier & Make.com. Your creativity is your only obstacle here.

  • You can automate sending their CSMs an update to their activity
  • Sending them a form for indicating their interest in an activity in a Slack channel
  • Updating a report or dashboard in Google Sheets
  • Sending an email for gifts or rewards

My suggestion is to do this all manually until you recognize areas that you could automate, then look at your options with Slack, CommonRoom, Orbit, Google Sheets, Zapier & Make, to see how it can be managed.

A few tips for your Slack CRM tool:

  • Segment members based on your own criteria for levels of advocacy.
  • Be meticulous with tracking who completes an ask/challenge/activity, so you can easily identify who to ask when a request comes in from your internal team.
  • Find a balance between tagging members for every activity and making too many tags that you can’t move through all of them to find anything. (Use profile notes)
  • Use the CRM to identify members who aren’t active, reach out to them and stay on top of that relationship.

Tips for using Slack for communities:

Spend a lot of time in DM with members

Tag members in discussions where they’d be interested in topics

Send DMs to people individually if you want them to do something – few will respond to asks in a general channel

Don’t start with several channels; members need to be able to find a place to chat easily, and too many channels from the beginning are overwhelming.

 

Note: I’ll add more to this post as I experiment and play with tools, develop ideas, and build communities. If you have questions, DM me on Slack, LinkedIn, Twitter or email me.