How to initiate meaningful conversation in Slack (communities)?

Hi IHers,

I am running a mid-size (~600 users) Slack community. However, the activity rate is pretty low. It's more like a news board where people post their offering or ask for help. It would love to see more meaningful conversations.
I really like Slack and I see similar shallow conversations in our company's #water-cooler / #off-work channels.

So I started wondering what might be the reasons behind this:
4 reasons why users might not participate in general purpose Slack channels:

😱 Stage fright
🎯Missing purpose & direction: What kind of conversations are appropriate / interesting for 600 people?
🏃Lack of personal commitment
⚡No immediacy / urge / focus: Slack channels are permanent => No urge or FOMO.

  • What is your experience?
  • Are there solutions?

Lately, I initiated a AMA (ask me anything) "Event". A rather small group of people had a fixed time span to post their questions. This was quite successful and people started to participate as I have hoped. So, are time-restricted, scheduled conversations a solution?

  1. 2

    Hi! I know one concept that works great is providing regular content and delivery to keep things fresh. This is what social media managers do, and they'll often use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to automate this fresh content delivery. I created https://qmux.io for this purpose. Would you be interested in signing up for the beta? I'd love to hear feedback on features that you would like to see. Shoot me an email at [email protected] and signup on the site if you are interested :)

  2. 1

    I'm in over 20 marketing slack communities. Some are very engaged, some are ghost towns. The active ones are where people can gain something. So to start, you'll have to help everyone out, until the community gains some traction. What's your group about?

    1. 1

      I totally agree with you. Why else would you join a community :D - but gain/learn/connect, The challenge is that post come in once in a while and I try to answer them (as good as I can). However, the conversations hardly take off and the post almost never relate to each other :P
      The AMA was the first time there where multiple people engaged at the same time :D

      That's why I thought about scheduling more events like that. Focus on a specific topic, time-restricted, scheduled => better conversations?

      Do you have experience with that?

      1. 2

        @came I think it comes down to having a good foundation for who you're bringing together + why. As you said the input differs a lot, it might be interesting to see if that's in order (also check out the community canvas or the lean community canvas by Noelle Flowers for a framework)

        If you're good on that, consider what types of things you can initiate yourself to drive engagement. It starts with you doing a lot of the manual work to bring value. Regarding some formats, you might want to check this free resource I created: https://n.shipright.co/engagement-recipes (AMA is actually one of them – and apparently that's working well for you! :D)

        Also, there seems to be this 90 9 1 rule, where it is said that 90% will 'lurk' in your community, 9% will engage with stuff posted, and 1% actively contributes new things. It's good to keep in the back of your mind.

      2. 1

        Yeah, having a time-restricted + scheduled event (a video meet for example) will boost your engagement IF the topic brings value to your members: explain what they will gain from participating.

      3. 1

        I'm currently seeing if I can ask Slack group owners to install my app to their workspace. That's of course benefitial to me, as it's free exposure. And those that installed it (it's a keyword notification app) are happy because their group has some extra value (latest posts about X get posted to a channel). So you might think what unique value your group can add, other than the people of course. AMAs are just one thing.

        But what I noticed is that the successful groups really help people make money. The most engaged group I've ever been in was about software in a certain category. Each company would have their entire team there. Or if it's a marketing group, the founders would provide free advice.

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