Facebook groups seem to be extremely popular for private/closed community communication. They are really valuable, but are Facebook groups the best option? We know that they certainly aren’t the only option.
We stopped using one of our private Facebook groups and moved to Slack, and I’d like to share with you the thought process around this move.
Ever since establishing my business in 2013 I’ve had my sights set on building a membership community, and at the start of 2015 we began to put things in place to make that happen.
Most people think that the content in a membership site is the most important element, and it is important, but it’s not as important as the community.
Community building is what I’ve been putting most of my energy into recently, and I think it’s time well spent.
The problem with Facebook groups
We’ve had a few challenges with Facebook groups and perhaps the biggest limitation is that it’s linear. In that there’s only one vertical stream of conversation. In a matter of hours a thread can disappear from sight, making it difficult to have ongoing threaded conversation.
One of the other major challenges is that the group page we established was hardly being utilised. Now, you might be thinking that this is a clear sign that people don’t see the value, and therefore don’t need or want to communicate peer-to-peer. However, I have an alternative and fairly valid perspective on this.
Most businesses decide to set up a private Facebook group for their community because people are already on Facebook, and therefore it’s easy – less friction between platforms. However, this is possibly the very reason why some communities fail to grow and develop on Facebook! There’s a tonne of distractions on Facebook, and your group is just one of 100s of notifications that a person might get.
Separating your community from the noise can lead to higher engagement.
So with all of this in mind, I wanted to find an alternative solution. My main objective was to find a simple solution that people in the community would actually make use of and get value from. The following features were important:
- Threaded conversations
- Separate areas for different topics
- Search capabilities
- Easy to use
- Mobile/App based
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What is Slack?
Slack is promoted as a team collaboration tool, so you might be wondering how or why we are using it as a community forum. Slack is essentially the same thing as a forum wrapped up in a bunch of cool marketing and technology.
If you are still using email for internal team communication then I suggest you give Slack a whirl at www.slack.com. I’m 99% certain that you’ll convert to never sending another internal email ever again.
10 reasons why Slack works as a community forum
Here are the top 10 reasons why Slack works for us as a private community forum:
- It’s mobile/app based – There’s an app for all the most popular devices, therefore making it very accessible for most people.
- Threaded conversations – You can create as many channels as you like & we have a channel for each major marketing topic. This makes it easy to find relevant resources and have relevant conversations
- Direct messages – You can communicate privately with other members of the community
- Private groups – you can set up smaller private groups for specific projects and teams
- Search functionality – you can search the whole forum for resources, documents and previous communications
- It’s easy to use – Most people who use a smart phone for communication can use Slack. It’s very similar to most instant messaging apps.
- Unread notifications – When you jump into the community you can clearly see the conversations that are new since you last visited. You can also receive notifications on your devices similar to other apps
- Document sharing – You can upload document and pictures. Videos from YouTube/Vimeo play natively in Slack
- Integrations – You can integrate Slack with 100s of other apps including Google Hangouts, Twitter, Google Docs, Dropbox, Mailchimp, etc.
- Multiple Slack accounts – I have multiple Slack teams/groups and they are all in once place and easy to access
Here’s what a few of our members said about slack
I'd never heard of Slack, let alone used it.
The ability to sort conversations by threads (Channels, in Slack speak) is really powerful.
Much prefer using it compared to FB groups, much easier to find previous conversations.
The search functionality is also great if for whatever season I forget which thread a comment appeared on.
Owner, Fin and Co.
Slack is great as you can have multiple conversations at one time, and you only need to be involved in the tread that is relevant to you.
It's also good how you can break off for one to one in private conversations and highlight ('@') a person into the conversation.
It's super easy to use!
I love the fact you can dip in as and when you have a chance, and the threaded conversations mean you don't get overwhelmed by seeing everything at once.
The extra tools are cool too, such as alerts for particular phrases. So, I get an alert every time someone mentions podcasting for example.
It means I don't miss suggestions or chat around my favourite topic 🙂
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There you have it, the problems and challenges we had with Facebook groups and the main reasons we moved our private community to Slack.
- Are you thinking about moving to Slack?
- Are you having challenges with your Facebook group?
- Do you think your community would benefit from using Slack?
Let me know what’s on your mind in the comments section below.