Looking to add another layer of engagement to your virtual event? Learn how to build a Slack community that keeps attendees engaged, connected, and offers new channels for deeper discussion.
One of the biggest challenges for event professionals pivoting to virtual events is finding opportunities to engage attendees. With the majority (80%) of event professionals saying attendee engagement is the most important KPI for success when building a virtual attendee experience, we believe it’s critical to experiment with new tools and programs that may not have been used for in-person event experiences.
That’s why during Bizzabo’s recent (Almost) IN-PERSON virtual event, we created a variety of ways for event attendees to engage, including an IN-PERSON Slack community. The response was overwhelmingly positive. If you’re exploring how to add a Slack community to your next virtual event, check out our top 10 tips below.
What Is Slack?
Before getting into the details of building a community, it’s important to understand that Slack is a communication tool. It allows internal teams, organizations, and virtual communities to collaborate through channels, group messaging, direct messaging, file sharing, and more.
Recently, we’ve seen an uptick in external facing Slack communities made for a variety of different industries like event marketing, data analysis, content marketing, and more. As the majority of the workforce acclimates to remote working, Slack communities have exploded in popularity by providing resources for learning, networking, and staying connected.
Looking for other more resources? Check out our top 10 tools for hosting a virtual event.
Launch a Slack Community For Your Virtual Event in 10 Steps
1. Determine Your Audience
Before diving into building a Slack workspace, determining a URL, and drumming up Slack #channels, you’ll want to determine the audience you’re looking to attract and engage.
First, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will this community only include event registrants and attendees?
- Will this community only include customers?
- Will this community include prospects?
For example, prior to the launch of the (Almost) IN-PERSON event, we decided to build a Slack community for all event registrants. This included both customers, prospective customers, and event speakers.
2. Establish a Code of Conduct and Assign Community Moderators
A critical step to building a successful Slack community for your virtual event is creating a community code of conduct. This can take many forms and can be as detailed or streamlined as you wish. Remember, the objective is to give community members a clear understanding on how to behave in the community, what not to do, and what the consequences are for violating the code of conduct.
You’ll also want to assign moderator and administrator roles to members of your team who can keep conversations flowing in the community and step in when needed.
For example, you can review the (Almost) IN-PERSON Slack Community Code of Conduct here. We also posted it in our Slack community so that it would be highly visible.
3. Determine How Community Members Will Join
Next, take a step back to determine what the welcome experience will look like for community members. Will you allow anybody with access to your Slack workspace to create a user account or will you require approval?
There are several ways people can join your Slack community:
- Through an email invitation
- Through a direct link to join a Slack workspace
- By building a form or workflow using a marketing automation platform
If you’re looking to create a gated Slack community, you may want to build a custom workflow through HubSpot or Marketo. This will enable you to vet each community member before allowing them to create a Slack account.
4. Create a Slack Workspace
Before creating a Slack workspace for your event community, you’ll want to determine if you need a free Slack workspace or a paid Slack workspace. However, if you’re on the fence, you can always start with a free plan and upgrade to paid as needed.
From our research, we’ve learned the major difference between a free and paid Slack workspace is the number of searchable messages.This means that only the most recent 10K messages are archived and searchable with a free plan.
If you currently have an internal Slack workspace, reach out to your Slack account manager or their support team to determine the best plan.
Once you have your Slack workspace, decide on a custom URL. For a Slack community that is related to your event, you’ll want to consider using the virtual event name (ex. in-person.slack.com) or the name of your event series.
5. Create Slack #Channels
After you’ve decided on your Slack plan and created a custom URL, you’ll want to prepare your workspace for members by adding unique channels.
Each Slack workspace comes with the default #general and #random channels, both of which can be deleted.
Some examples of public channels you can create include:
- #introductions channel
- #resources channel
- a channel dedicated to all conversations around your virtual event (ex. #almostinperson)
When creating public channels, keep in mind that too many channels can confuse users, while too few channels can make available channels noisy and disorganized. At Bizzabo, we decided to limit the number of available channels to seven as shown below:
If you’re looking for a way to offer exclusive content, you can also create private channels. These channels are only visible to the Slack users who are invited and can be curated, allowing you to offer a VIP experience to select attendees, speakers, or sponsors.
6. Leverage Slack Apps
Slack offers a variety of applications like polls, gifs, video chat, and more to make collaboration and communication easier. To get a better understanding of which apps to include in your Slack workspace, check out their Essential Apps.
For the (Almost) IN-PERSON Slack community, we used Donut, Polly, and Giphy to provide a variety of engagement options to users.
7. Run a Beta Community Launch
We highly recommend populating your workspace with conversations coordinated by your team or a select group of customers, event attendees, or partners. This will help you set the tone for your Slack community before launching it to your larger event audience.
To get the party started, we began a conversation in our #almostinperson Slack channel several days before the event:
If you’re planning to run a beta launch of your Slack community, set aside one to three weeks for beta members to read and send Slack messages to each other before opening the community to a wider audience.
8. Open Your Slack Workspace to Event Registrants
If you made it to this point with your Slack community, congrats! This is a HUGE achievement. Once your Slack community is ready with channels, apps, and starter conversations, you can begin inviting new members into the community.
To do this, plan on running a dedicated email campaign to your event registrants that includes the option to join Slack before or during your event. You can also build a landing page that gives event attendees more information about why the Slack community exists and the value it provides.
As an example, here is a screenshot of the (Almost) IN-PERSON Slack community registration page below:
9. Join the Conversation
As you get closer to your event, you’ll probably notice higher levels of engagement on Slack as community members start to comment on your virtual event sessions, speakers, and other attendee experiences in real time.
Don’t be shy! Have your internal team join the conversation by replying in threads, @messaging community members who have specific questions about your virtual event, or by adding a simple supportive emoji.
The rule of thumb for event organizers hosting a Slack community is to keep a light touch on moderation. Allow conversations to flow freely, adding a dash of encouragement when appropriate.
10. Grow Your Community
Keeping your Slack community engaged during your virtual event is incredibly exciting and rewarding. However, to keep the momentum going long after the event requires some time and attention. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your Slack community engaged post-event:
Host an AMA Series With Event Speakers
If your data shows that the event content was highly relevant to your event audience, you may want to consider running a short AMA series with your event speakers. Choose a channel where your AMA speakers can directly message your community members and answer questions live at a designated time and date. This will give Slack members access to exclusive content that will keep them engaged, while offering valuable information.
Highlight Highly Engaged Community Members
If you’ve invested in a paid Slack subscription, you can leverage robust analytics to understand who your most engaged community members are. You can then offer contests and prizes to members who participate in valuable conversations in different Slack channels, those who answer questions for other members, and folks who stay actively engaged for the longest amount of time.
Use Networking Tools Like Donut
Connect your workspace with apps like Donut, which pairs different Slack members together on a weekly basis using ice breakers that you can customize.
Continue Inviting New Members
If you hosted a stand-alone virtual event, consider opening Slack registrations to a broader audience like your customers or prospects to attract new users. If you’re hosting a virtual event series that is ongoing, continue to promote your Slack community before each event date to capture new event registrants.
Key Takeaways: Building A Slack Community
As event organizers continue to experiment with different ways to engage event attendees, consider the above steps to help you seamlessly launch a successful virtual event community on Slack.
Curious about how event leaders are reacting to COVID-19? Check out our groundbreaking Post COVID-19 Event Outlook Report to learn how the event industry is adapting their strategies to the new normal.