8

I'd like to know about your experiences on-boarding a community specifically related to Slack.

How did you introduce your community to what Slack is, why you're choosing the platform, and how the tool will support your community?

And once you've introduced it, how did you go about the on-boarding process?

What are the key ingredients in your approach that led to thriving use of the tool in your community— especially if you faced resistance or opposition to it?

3
  • 2
    Could you describe your community a little more? What type of activities draw the community together -- hobby, professional interest, affinity group, etc? How much do they interact online -- do they live on the computer, check in a few times a day, check if pinged? Is Slack replacing something else or is chat new to the group? – Monica Cellio Dec 17 '17 at 3:59
  • @MonicaCellio there are several communities that I interact with, some of them very disparate. one community is a highly tech-focused audience supporting research communities geographically distributed across the US.... some of the other communities are world-wide volunteer organizations focused on human connection, emotional intelligence, and unconscious bias. So given the wide range of perspectives, cultures, and interest in technical tools, my question is fairly broad and looking for examples of success in any community that has a successful onboarding strategy for geographically-wide folks – aculich Dec 21 '17 at 3:05
  • Wondering why did you think of Slack? what do you use now? Why is it not enough? – alpha_989 Dec 29 '17 at 16:44
4

How did you successfully introduce Slack and onboard your community?

Successfully? Oh, gee. That's hard. Here are a few things I've learned along the way/things I would do if I could try it again:

  1. Make sure the community actually needs Slack. I know you may use it for work/some side organization/elsewhere, and I do agree Slack is an amazing tool. But, if you could fix all of your organizational issues by splitting your email thread into two email threads, do that instead as it's a lot easier and a lot less frustrating for everyone.

    I am a bit "perfectionist" at times, so I sometimes see the "need" for Slack/Trello when there is not. Make sure that your organization is actually suffering measurably due to improper communication and that Slack is the right solution to fix it.

  2. Make sure the community realizes they need Slack (or another tool). I CANNOT overemphasize this step. Not an, "oh sure, whatever, we'll try it." Though you may be leading the process, everyone in your community will have to put in extra time and energy setting up accounts, downloading apps, getting used to the software, and figuring out all of Slack's features and quirks. If they do not see a need to switch from text/email/whatever to Slack, they will not put in the necessary time to actually LEARN how to use Slack and your onboarding efforts will fall short virtually every time.
  3. Make sure the community realizes that Slack is the best solution and that it is not "overkill." Since everyone is now convinced that you need a new way of communication, you can lead a short discussion (what this means depends on the type/structure of your community) about what to use, and you can bring up Slack and perhaps even demo it (if you have a Slack workspace for another community/for work/etc.).

Even if you have the authority to choose what communication method is used and you have already decided, walking through the steps (often times "pushing" the community to reach the conclusion that you want them to) makes them feel involved/informed and gives you helpful information on what people would like to see in the new platform. Even if it's not a "town hall" meeting, at least it convinces people to think about your organization's communication issues and may prevent some pushback.


Let's say everyone is on the same page, and it's just a matter of getting everyone on Slack. Here's what I'd do:

  1. Don't switch over cold turkey (or at least not initially). Set up a "Slack" day the week before where you spend 15 minutes showing everyone how to download the Slack clients and how to set up their accounts. Have everyone post in the #general channel and react to someone else's message, along with ping you to let you know that they successfully joined Slack (and that they know how to ping another member). Even if no "work" is being done, having people get familiar with the platform basics is helpful.
  2. When you are ready to fully switch over, make sure that everyone understands what Slack is supposed to be used for (versus email), and make sure that everyone is committed to making the migration work well for your community.
  3. After all is said and done, make sure that you (and other proponents of Slack) are very active on Slack, at least initially. If no one responds quickly to their Slack message, they will probably just try email next time.
1
  • This is very good advice.. Learnt a lot..Thanks.. – alpha_989 Dec 29 '17 at 17:11
2

@ anonymous-penguin -s advice is very good.. OP, you should follow these. We did follow a lot of these (not all), but looking back Slack/Discord wasn’t a good fit. I have been in 2 groups, where the transition didn’t go well, and caused more friction. We then went back to the original medium, and had to rebuild the momentum.

I'd like to know about your experiences on-boarding a community specifically related to Slack.

So, I will only address the above point and list some pros and cons of moving to Slack/Discord from my limited Experience:

Pros of moving to Slack/discord

  1. Team Size/Frequency of Communication: Very good for large teams, with high-frequency real-time communication requirements (and vice versa)
  2. UI: Very good and intuitive UI. Easy voice/video communication tools. People who use slack and traditional communication tools for density of communication, regularly always seem to prefer slack
  3. different types of communication: Ability to keep a running communication, which can be of the length of long emails, as well as small text chats. (Google Hangouts is primarily designed for small chat messages, because of limited window size)
  4. Collaboration: Ability to collaboratively edit comments, which could become a document (so you don’t need google docs etc)
  5. Community Controls: Better community controls that in Google Hangouts (Discord is better than Slack in this regard, but is primarily targeted right now to gaming communities)
  6. Personalization of the interface: Gets users more involved in the tool, thus they like it more (kind of like Vim, Emacs, Arch Linux etc.).
  7. Notification system: Provides gamified rewards, and could improve faster and more frequent communication
  8. Integration with existing systems: Very good integration with other services: A lot of my coder friends, or friends who manage large groups of coders overwhelmingly prefer slack. Further, Slack provides a lot of integrations, so if you know how to code and use these integrations they save a lot of time.
  9. Less chances of faun pa: Don’t need to resend an email, if you made a error
  10. Good for technologists, and people who have less history with existing systems: If people in your community like to tinker with technology or are younger in general, they will love it, because they don’t have long history with existing tools.

Cons of moving to Slack/discord

  1. Too many communication mediums: People are already on Email, Text, Whatsapp, Facebook.. (10 others), you may be adding another medium that they have to monitor
  2. May change frequency of communication: If you have frequent communication, slack is gamified to create a sense of urgency and respond immediately. This could increase frequency of communication, and cause more distraction for members, and people may come to resent it, at least initially. On the other hand, if members are not completely bought in, and are not on slack a lot, this will lead to communication breakdown.
  3. Unknown social expectations of when to respond to messages: For email, its socially accepted that everybody has received and read it, but Slack is not completely adopted. So, people may pretend that they haven’t received a communication, especially if it’s something that needs to be done for the interests of the group, but no necessarily for that individual. This might cause more lag in communication.
  4. ability to change sent messages without history: People can change their comments/messages, without a history. Unlike email, where you have a copy, in Slack/Discord you maynot have a copy to prove that somebody sent you a email.
  5. Could lead to a no-cycle: If you are the leader of a group, you sometimes have to ask members to do things, that are in the interests of the group, but not directly in the interests of that individual. It’s not a deal-breaker, as you don’t always know how people will react when you ask something from somebody, and it’s perfectly ok for somebody to say no or not respond if the ask is too high. You can ask for something later in another thread. If you are a purely online group, and use Email, you can use another thread later, for a smaller ask. If you use slack, you will only have 1 thread of communication, so you have to be more careful of such subtleties of communication.

Hope this helps you in making a good choice.

1

I had a similar situation getting my organization to use Teams (a Microsoft knockoff), and other tools. And the key, I’ve found are Hero Users.

Hero users are the people in a community that can change the direction it goes in terms of norms, culture and tools. Once you get one of these heroes to use what you want, network effects bring everyone else on board.

When I wanted centralized file management through Dropbox, I found the people whose sharing habits shaped the company — the CEO, an accountant, and so on. Once they used it, the people around them used it, and it rippled through the company. Now if you don’t have your files on Dropbox... there’s a shaming process 🤣

So to get everyone to use Teams, I started with the ones who emailed, messaged, and WhatsApped more than double the next person. It took about two or three hours before we had an 80% adoption.

The great thing about these heroes is that they are also a terrific test to see if the tool actually works. Not everything I’ve introduced had been a success. Any todo list or project management app is almost always dead on arrival. And the heroes were the places they failed first.

So go, find your overcommunicators, your gif monkeys, your chatterboxes. And get them on Slack first.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.