Love it or hate it – Slack is still a top choice for communities to thrive.
I have come across many tweets where people have explored the new-age community management platforms – and then just returned to Slack. I was trying to find those tweets using the Twitter search.
Instead, it gave me this clear demonstration of the exact sentiment of community builders with this tweet by Sam Parr – they know that Slack isn’t great for community management, but still end up using it because it indeed is a great tool. And here’s what I have noticed – how all successfully managed Slack communities use Slack automation.
If you’re a community manager, you’re probably stuck with many manual tasks. Slack provides necessary automation both in-built and via 3rd parties to make it seamless to engage your community.
I cover 5 such important Slack automation that every Slack community manager should implement. You can also implement these Slack automation hacks if you’re managing Slack for your company.
Key takeaways from this guide:
- When to use Slack for community management
- What is Slack workflow builder
- 5 workflows to automate community management on Slack
When to use Slack for hosting your community?
You should choose Slack for your community only if a majority of your target audience is already active on Slack.
This is why you find many professional communities across business, entrepreneurship, design, human resources, or developers hosted on Slack. The chances that their potential members are already aware of Slack and its usage are high.
If your target audience isn’t on Slack, then it may prove to be a learning curve for them. This may result in lower engagement or drop-offs. But if you think your users can still learn Slack (it’s a pretty intuitive tool), here are some advantages it has over other community management platforms:
- Integrations: Slack boasts 2400+ integrations with other tools. This will help you extract data gathered from your Slack community to other tools.
- Workflow automation: as you will read further in this blog, Slack’s workflow builder allows task automation across engagement, data management, ensuring community guidelines are met, etc.
- Generous free tier: Slack’s free version is good enough to experiment with the viability of your community. You can upgrade to the paid Slack version when you’re sure about scaling the community using Slack.
- Designed for collaboration: Slack is a chat tool that optimizes its features and product design to enable both async and real-time collaboration. This means it is possible to create a healthy and engaged community using Slack’s features and app ecosystem.
- Less distraction: there are no ads or ‘feed’ like environments that distracting social media platforms are notorious for. Although Slack makes you available to everyone in a community via chat – it is possible to use Slack asynchronously by controlling notifications.
What is Slack’s workflow builder?
Slack’s workflow builder is a no-code visual tool that helps you automate manual tasks both within and outside Slack. It’s a series of automated actions that occur as per the trigger set.
You can build any workflow using Slack’s ecosystem of 2400+ integrations. For example, you can trigger sending a form when a user takes a certain action, or send a welcome message when they join the Slack workspace.
Note: Slack’s workflow builder is a paid feature available only in Slack Pro, Business+, or Enterprise subscriptions.
5 Slack automation workflows for managing a community
Here are 5 key Slack automation workflows you should implement for your community:
1. Automate new user onboarding
Implementing good onboarding practices will set expectations with new members. Using Slack’s workflow builder, you can automate sharing onboarding messages, files, or forms with them. I have shared the steps to automate the welcome message in the channel as per the latest Slack user interface:
Step-1: Click on your workspace name, go to ‘tools’ and there you will find the ‘workflow builder’ option.
How to find the Slack Workflow Builder option
Step-2: On clicking the ‘Workflow builder’ option, it will open a new window. Click on the ‘Create workflow’ option.
Click on the ‘Create Workflow’ option
Step-3: Choose ‘Start from scratch’ on the left, and then choose the ‘When a person joins a channel’ option.
Slack has a basic template to kickstart an action when someone joins a channel
Step-4: Choose the channel (allows multiple selections) where you’d like to welcome them and then click on ‘Continue’.
Step-5: Click on the ‘Add step’ option below –
Click on ‘Add step’ to add the next step
Step-6: From the menu on the left, click on the ‘messages’ option.
Choose ‘messages’ to proceed
Step-7: Select the ‘send message to a person’ option for our use case
Choose ‘Send message to a person’ as the next step
Step-8: Click on the ‘Select a member’ dropdown, and choose ‘The user who joined the channel’.
Select member onboarding type
Step-9: Draft the custom welcome message sharing information about your community guidelines and next steps as per your community’s brand. You can also insert variables to personalize the automated message.
Step-10: Add a button if you would like to add more steps.
For example, you can use in-built Slack forms as a next step to understand their expectations from your community, how they got to know about it, ask for referrals, etc.
Once you’re satisfied with the message preview, click ‘save’.
Add more steps, check the preview, and click save
Step-11: You can continue this way to add more steps as per your community’s member onboarding workflow. Once done, hit ‘publish’, and it will show a dialog box to name, describe, and add a logo to your custom Slack workflow.
Customize your built slack workflow name, description, and logo
Step-12: You can further manage workflow edit access and add collaborators. Then, click on ‘Publish’.
Step-13: You can further access the published workflows to edit, unpublish, or delete them on the Slack Workflow Builder dashboard.
Slack Workflow Builder dashboard
2. Collect onboarded community member’s data or feedback to Google sheets
A community should always stay in touch with the expectations of its members to implement necessary engagement initiatives. It’s easy to lose Google form links in chats – so Slack has made it easy to collect data from your community members using workflow builder automation.
Step-1: From the Workflow builder dashboard, click on ‘Create Workflow’. Then choose ‘See all templates’ – and from the dialog box, select ‘Request Input’ template.
Slack’s ‘Request Input’ template is useful for community feedback use case
Step-2: You will find a ready-to-edit template with some steps. Click on the edit button first, which is for deciding when the form gets shared. For example, if you would like to capture details of a newly onboarded community member – choose ‘when a person joins a channel’.
In the screenshot below, we have chosen a use case where you want to take a post recurring event feedback from community members. For this, you should choose ‘On a schedule’. Here, you can custom-choose when you’d like to share this recurring feedback form and its repeatability.
Click ‘Save’ when you have set up the workflow trigger.
Step-3: Based on your trigger in Step-2, you can edit the message that gets sent to the user or channel. Here, we are creating a recurring event feedback form.
Edit message to share with the user or channel
Step-4: Next, edit the form title and questions. You can mark some questions as ‘required’, which means without the user answering these, the form doesn’t submit. You can also add instructions or clarification about any question using ‘Hint’.
When you’re done adding all questions, click ‘Save’.
Edit form questions and form title
Step-5 (optional): you can send the collected data to a Google spreadsheet or any other CRM from the left panel. In this step, I am connecting it to a Google Sheet.
First, connect your Google account where you want to save the captured data and choose its accessibility. Select the spreadsheet where you want to save the data and choose the sheet and relevant fields. It is better to first customize the sheet with relevant columns and then perform this step.
Send captured data to Google Sheet
Step-6: Click on ‘Publish’ – and test the workflow by changing the initiation trigger to the latest date.
3. Automatically promote sponsored products using Slackbot when someone mentions the product use case on channels
One way to monetize a community is via sponsorships. If you have a Slack channel – you can place highly targeted ads where if someone mentions its use case, you can prompt a bot to share the sponsored product as a use case!
For this, you need to use Slackbot.
Here are the steps to create and customize a Slackbot:
Step-1: Head to the drop-down menu under your Slack workspace, go to ‘Settings and administration’, and then choose the ‘Customize’ option as shown here on the screenshot.
Go to Slack workspace customization settings
Step-2: Head to the Slackbot tab and click on the ‘Add response’ button.
Slack workspace customization dashboard
Step-3: Then add the use cases or potential phrases that people associate with the sponsored product. Write down the copy to prompt the user to check out the product. Click ‘Save’.
Add Slackbot trigger words and the response to them
Step-4: Do test it on your channels if it works. You can design many such responses for different sponsors or other use cases – like asking users not to use cuss words, avoiding email sharing, etc.
4. Conduct a community Ask Me Anything (AMA) using the live audience QnA Slack workflow
Ask Me Anything (AMA) session is a useful way to engage community members with experts from it. it’s also async in nature – which is suitable if you’re running a remote community spread across time zones.
Here’s how you implement Slack AMA workflow:
Step-1: Open your Slack workflow builder, and click on the ‘See all templates’ option. From the template options, choose ‘Ask Me Anything’.
‘Ask Me Anything’ template
Step-2: The default AMA template by Slack Workflow Builder caters to conducting AMA within teams with a use case like onboarding new team members. We can modify this template to conduct an expert AMA session for your community.
First, choose when this workflow gets triggered – which would be the date of the AMA session. Edit and set up the trigger in the first step.
If it’s a one-time event or there are no fixed dates – you can do so by setting ‘Repeat’ as ‘1’ and aligning the duration based on how far the event is. Then, fix the end date as a post-event date so that the workflow stops.
Set up AMA schedule
Step-3: Select the channel where the AMA will take place. You can edit the AMA initiation message and add variables. Then, to collect the AMA questions, you can prompt the members to submit their questions.
Preview the message and button call-to-action, and click ‘Save’ when done.
Edit AMA kick-off message
Step-4: Edit the information to be collected in the form by the admin to select the Host of the AMA. Add their name, designation, and introduction description so that community members can align their questions.
Click ‘Save’ when you’re done adding questions.
Step-5: Edit the message that gets sent to the channel to kick off the AMA highlighting the Host and their background setup in Step-4.
Click ‘Save’ when done.
Edit channel message to introduce the AMA host
Step-6: Add a delay to the workflow whose duration is equivalent to your AMA duration. If it’s a 30 mins AMA – add ’30’ as shown in the screenshot and click ‘Save’.
Add AMA duration
Step-7: Once the AMA duration is reached, you can send an automated message to conclude the AMA so that the host can retire. You can add a feedback form as a next step if required by checking the ‘Include a button’ option.
When your workflow is error-free – click ‘publish’ and test the workflow in a test channel.
Set up AMA conclusion message
5. Slack automation workflow to give community shoutouts for member engagement
One way to gamify your community is to give shoutouts when they achieve certain engagement levels. For example, you can set up a ‘wins’ channel and allow community members to showcase something they achieved during work or anything related to the theme of the community.
Automate community shoutouts by following below steps:
Step-1: Head to the Slack Workflow Builder dashboard, and click on ‘Create Workflow’. Then, choose the ‘From a link in Slack’ option to get started.
Step-2: Then, select ‘Forms’ from the left ‘Steps’ menu to collect information about the member who gets the shoutout. Basic information you must capture includes tagging the member and a description of your shoutout.
Click ‘Save’ when done.
Capture shoutout recipient member’s information
Step-3: From the left ‘Step’ panel, choose ‘Messages’. Then choose ‘Send a message to a channel’.
Messages options from the ‘Step’ side panel
Step-4: Set up the custom message. You can ‘Insert a variable’ and enter the information captured on the form in Step-3. Click ‘Save’ when done.
Then, publish the workflow.
Test the workflow by copying the workflow link in Step-1, and sharing it on your Slack channel.
Send the shoutout message to the target channel
We can help you automate your Slack community with advanced workflows
Automation is critical to scaling your community – because it gives you the bandwidth to focus on how you can help its members and engage them.
There are many more such interesting Slack workflows you can implement and streamline how your community operates – Connect with us today
Frequently asked questions:
Is Slack Workflow Builder free?
No – Slack Workflow Builder is available for paid subscriptions under Slack Pro, Slack Business+, or Slack Enterprise only.
How to publish a workflow in Slack?
When you’re done designing your workflow, make sure it doesn’t include ‘Needs attention’ alerts from Slack on the steps. Once fixed, Slack will make the Publish button on the top right clickable and green. Then, click on ‘Publish’, and edit the workflow name and description. Click ‘Next’, to manage the collaborators and access the workflow edit option. The published workflow is then available on your Slack Workflow Builder dashboard.
Who can create and publish a workflow in Slack?
Slack allows any member to create workflows in the Slack workspace. But it also allows admins and workspace owners to limit the access for workflow creation. Once a workflow is published, you can control the workflow edit access. You can also limit who can use your designed workflows.
How to pull data or responses from Slack workflow?
Head to the Slack workspace dropdown menu, go to the ‘Tools and Settings’ option and open the workflow builder dashboard. Click the workflow whose data you intend to export. Find the ‘3 dots’ menu, and from there select the ‘download form responses’ option.
Is Slack free for communities?
You can run a community on Slack for free using its free version with limited capabilities. There is no limit on how many members can join your community in the Slack free plan. You can also build a private community. To better manage the community via automation and app integrations, you need the Slack Pro or Slack Business+ plan.
How much does it cost to run a Slack community?
Slack charges per user. Its Slack Pro plan costs $8 per user or $6.67 if paid annually. So the total cost to run the community would be equal to the number of community members who joined. Thankfully, Slack’s latest pricing takes care of the ‘active users’ while calculating its monthly bill – know more about Slack’s fail billing policy
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Tweet to the author of this guide (me!) for any feedback or follow-ups: @harshalachavan7
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