Building a community around your brand is one of the best ways to grow your business. Not only are you growing your customer base, but you're also creating connections with potential guest bloggers, collaborators, and friends.
Most of the people I know best online, I met through my own blog community. When I started to build these connections, I wanted a way to stay in touch and talk to each of my subscribers. Facebook communities are a great option, but I wanted something more fluid and easier to search. That's when I found slack.
What is Slack
According to the Slack website, "A messaging app for teams". Simple, right? And it really is that easy. With a few questions and an email, you can create your own slack team.
Think of slack as an optimized, beautiful and fun chat room. We'll dig into the feature more in a bit, but the basic idea of slack is to eliminate back-and-forth emails. Slack makes it easier to plan, meet, chat and share ideas.
Slack has become my favorite way to communicate with clients and friends. Rather than emailing back and forth, trying to find past emails, and having to CC or BCC other friends and clients into the messages, you can post everything in one place.
Slack also lets you create multiple teams, channels and private channels. This way you can have a channel for individual projects, a team for different clients, or a different private channel for specific people or topics.
Slack isn't just for teams either - I use private channels to take note, plan and save ideas. I also use it as a reminder tool for myself by connecting other things like Asana, IFTTT notifications and Disqus - but we'll get into that shortly.
Slack is a more accessible and organized option for those of you who send hundreds of emails back and forth.
How to Use Slack
Slack has a ton of uses. First, watch the video to get a basic overview of the system and how to use it. If the video doesn't load, or you're on your mobile device, try this link.
Think of channels as topics. Each channel has a focus, so that you can quickly find what you need within the chats. When you first create a team there will be some default channels for you, which you can delete or rename. (#general and #random)
These are a quick and private way to chat 1-on-1 with a team member. One of the best features in direct chat is the "slackbot", which is a robot you can use to automate a ton of your tasks. If you're interested in learning more about the automation side of slack, be sure to sign up for the automation workshop by clicking here.
If you're working with a large team, these private channels can be perfect for breaking up everyone. This can also be used for your own personal planning. I have a private channel set up for reminders to myself, sending images from my phone to my desktop and saving important ideas on the go.
If you're working in a large group, you could set up private channels for your VA, marketing team or finance group. Only the members you add to the private channels will be able to see it. Which means you can create hundreds to keep tasks organized without cluttering the rest of your team's slack navigation.
Building a community
One of the main ways I use slack is for my NCC member community. We have a facebook group set up for anyone to join, but having a slack channel allows me to have only active, friendly and helpful members be in the chat.
Setting up a slack team for the NCC has been a game changer. The weekly newsletters I send out, aren't just going to a list of emails - they're going to a list of my friends. I've been able to meet, share and collaborate with so many amazing people by going one more step and getting to know my subscribers.
Being able to chat 1-on-1 with my newsletter subscribers not only helps me build my community and grow my audience, but it has helped me be more transparent, reach people on a deeper level and build my business FOR MY AUDIENCE, rather than for myself. I can hop into the slack channels and ask my community for a favor or advice, and people jump to help. It's incredible and I love how real and personal it makes my business.
I asked my NCC members what they thought of slack (and asked them to be brutally honest):
Building a slack team for the NCC members hasn't been beneficially only to my business/self. It's been a new way for my audience to find people with similar likes and dislikes. We've been able to find people who live near us, struggle with the same things, enjoy the same hobbies and love the same passions.
By connecting these people more than just by email, we've built a thriving group were we can always get help and make new connections.
This is one of the best features that Slack has to offer. The ability to integrate all my tools "under one roof" makes my process so much smoother and searchable. To add new integrations, or just to see what Slack offers, click on your menu button and choose "Slack Integrations". There are a ton of integrations for Slack, so I'm just going to touch on two of my favorite:
If This Then That is an automation tool I use regularly in my business. With Slack, you can connect the two and automate reminders, events and updates all within your Slack Team. If you want to learn more about automating with IFTTT, check out the automation workshop.
If you're using slack for a mastermind group (if you don't know what a mastermind is, click here), one of the best integrations is the google hangouts tool. To add this to your channel, type "/hangout" into the text area and hit enter. After it's added, you can start a google hangout for your channel and invite your group, all from within slack.
App + Desktop Version
Similar to Evernote, Slack offers both a downloadable desktop version and a free iphone, windows phone and android app. I prefer the desktop version when I'm working because I can quickly switch from team-to-team and I'll get notified when someone asks me a question or posts in a specific channel.
The app also lets me chat while I'm on the go and keep up with my community throughout the day.
Lastly, one of my personal favorite features of slack, is the ability to change the colors of your Slack screen within your teams. You can customize your colors, name, and other features by clicking on the menu, then "preferences".
To change the sidebar theme's custom colors, you can choose a preset theme or use your own colors. Here's the combo I use:
Just copy and paste that whole string into the custom text area. (See the images below if you need help finding that.