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How To Build Thriving Slack Communities for Marketers

The collaboration hub and marketing command center is a powerful tool to cultivate community in your company and beyond. Here’s how to do it the right way.

An illustration showing people talking around a laptop
Slack can be a powerful tool for creating meaningful conversations on the topics marketers care most about: relationships with customers, brand strategy, certifications, and so much more. [mast3r / Adobe Stock]

It’s no secret that marketers love to connect with each other to learn, trade stories, or simply make new friends. But with so many channels to choose from, it’s hard to find a comfortable, virtual place to meet regularly. That’s why I’m passionate about building Slack communities for marketers.

I’ve been using Slack within the digital marketing community long before I started working at Salesforce. It’s helped me get to where I am today. My role at Salesforce focuses on collaborating with our amazing Trailblazer community. I use Slack channels to connect with people on everything from Marketing Cloud certifications to best email marketing practices. 

Building Slack communities for marketers has helped me build relationships that last – as a mentor, a marketer, and a collaborator. Slack has many tools for knowledge sharing and relationship building, so it’s important to use it wisely. Here are a few of my best practices for making Slack a tool for building strong communities in your marketing space.

Be strategic with Slack communities for marketers 

I won’t lie: Slack can be tricky to navigate. There are public and private channels, direct messaging, Huddles, video calls, and more. I’m a part of 22 external Slack channels and twice that many for my Salesforce job. These channels cover a lot of ground and can take up a good chunk of my time, so I have to be very strategic with how I incorporate channel engagement into my day-to-day work life – especially since Slack is always “on” as a global platform.

I’m also intentional about creating new Slack channels, knowing that other marketers are in the same situation. Before starting a new channel, I look at what’s already out there on the platform. I consider the community’s needs and how my channel can meet those needs. I also identify the rules for a new private channel, including approval processes, conversation topic guidelines, and other channel guardrails.

You may be wondering: what’s a channel? Think about channels like you think about a Facebook group, or even an email chain with multiple parties (but way better organized). It’s a common space for people to discuss a topic, like new marketing strategies, or a place to collaborate on an upcoming campaign launch.

Some of the most powerful Slack channels emerged out of a desire to help others attain something, whether it was knowledge, career development, or community. Slack channels must serve the good of the community. When you bring this spirit of service to your channels, you’re more likely to engage with others in impactful ways.

Lean in to organic, authentic conversation

My introduction to Slack was through Email Geeks, a community of developers, architects, and email marketers. I wanted to write some LinkedIn thought leadership pieces to help customers understand Marketing Cloud, so I reached out to Email Geeks members on their Slack channel for feedback on article ideas. Since then, Slack has been a collaborative space for authentic knowledge sharing in my work as a marketer. 

Today, I keep the same principle in mind when using the platform. I use Slack to engage with the entire Trailblazer ecosystem in very different ways, from updating people on upcoming events or program opportunities to answering community questions and offering helpful resources. I’m able to connect with other marketers and Trailblazers in these relevant ways because the conversations and interactions come from a place of authenticity – honestly interacting with others in a way that benefits everyone involved. 

Take one of my favorite public Slack workspaces, for example: Marketers Chat, a place where thought leaders from various companies gather to discuss marketing topics, events, services, suggestions, and tools. I heard of Marketers Chat through word of mouth, as did many of its 7,000 members. Its value as a collaborative, engaging space for knowledge sharing has proved itself naturally. This is the magic of a well-created Slack workspace. It makes space for meaningful dialogue within appropriate guidelines, which makes it a place where relationships can thrive.

Know the rules and stick to them

Some Slack channels have specific rules around channel use, self-promotion, and selling products to keep the space relevant and distraction-free. When stepping into Slack conversations, it’s crucial to know and adhere to these rules. Remember that Slack is considered a private space for our marketing community to be open, honest, and vulnerable. Many channel admins automatically share channel guidelines to new members upon joining.

It’s also helpful to understand what Slack means to other members in these channels – not necessarily what Slack means to you or your organization. Everybody uses Slack for different reasons. They may use it as a hub for answers to pressing questions. Or it may be a place for venting about a product, service, or certification exam. Regardless, always ask yourself how you can achieve a goal or help a fellow team member in the most respectful way possible.

For example, at Salesforce we have ‘broadcast only’ channels, where team leads publish critical updates, and designated Q&A channels for company-wide meetings in which employees can ask questions in real time and search for answers afterward. Having a specific purpose for each channel helps everyone get the most out of Slack.

When in doubt, check in with channel owners and admins. Back when I was sharing thought leadership on Twitter, for example, I regularly consulted the owner of Email Geeks before posting anything in that Slack channel about Twitter events I was leading. I did this out of respect for the community and also for the sake of transparency, a key piece in building trust with peers and customers. 

If used mindfully, Slack can be a powerful tool for creating meaningful conversations on the topics we marketers care most about: relationships with our customers, brand strategy, certifications, and so much more. Given that the platform continues to add new features and integrations every year, I’m keeping my eyes on the Slack horizon for even more ways to connect with my digital marketing community.   

Ready to deepen your own engagement with colleagues and brand fans? Check out my favorite public Slack communities for marketers: EmailGeeks, Marketing Cloud Learning Camp, Ohana Slack, and Pardashians.

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