One of the great things the internet has provided us is a chance to meet like-minded people from all over the world. In the '90s and early 2000s, we had message boards where we could connect with others who shared similar passions. Looking back, they were both strange and revelatory all at once. There we were, sitting in front of a computer talking with people from all over the world who were just as obsessed with ballet, WWF wrestling, jazz, backpacking, writing code, or whatever, as we were. No matter what you were into, somewhere on the web there was a community of people who shared the same passion, and it made the world feel a little smaller and a lot more connected.
However, message boards were built for people, not profit. Once we had Web 2.0 tools like Facebook that could serve as a meetingplace and serve targeted ads, message boards began to fade into obscurity and Facebook groups reigned supreme. For the past several years, Facebook groups have been where you turned to find people who shared your passion, and overall, they’ve served us well.
But recently, Facebook groups have begun to give way to a new meeting place for connecting with people who share your interests—Slack. Slack has quickly become the go-to communication tool for the startup community since its launch in 2013, and perhaps your team uses it at work. But did you know that Slack is also one of the best ways to build a community online? It is, and it has brought people together to network, share interests, and learn new things.
Since Slack is a messaging service and not a social network, anybody can join. This makes it easy to build a community because you don’t have to create a new platform or develop a social media channel. Building a social media channel takes time to set up and maintain, even longer to grow, and you’re always going to be at the mercy of their algorithms. With Facebook, for example, groups often have to pay to promote or boost posts so they can gain visibility and more members.
Additionally, Slack makes information easily searchable for groups. Have you ever tried to track down a Facebook post in a group from a few months ago? It’s nearly impossible. With Slack, just search for a keyword and you’ll instantly be able to see every time that word was used.
But the single greatest reason why people are turning to Slack for building communities is because using Slack is just like having a conversation. In online forums or Facebook groups, most interactions typically take place by someone posing a question and other people responding. With Slack, interactions more closely resemble how we have conversations in real life, and we all crave those authentic types of interactions. Want proof? Just take a look at the conversation log of a Slack channel to see just how closely Slack conversations resemble how we talk to each other in real life.
Throughout the years we've always sought out people who shared our similar interests to talk about the things we love. And even though the location has changed over time, right now Slack is the best and easiest place to find other people who share your passion and interact with them as naturally as possible.