Best Community Platforms 2021 - Part I : πŸ’¬Chat Based Platforms - Slack vs Discord

Creator communities, learning communities and Brand communities are hot right now! The community has turned out to be the primary source to gather real-time feedback on products/content, to learn about upcoming trends in the industry and to gain loyal followers/users. Communicating with the users/followers through community helps build a stronger relationship than what social media could achieve. Where there's demand, multiple solutions will come up. We've seen a rise of community platforms - chat based as well as forum based ones. In this blog we talk about the two key chat based community players - Slack vs Discord. How do you know which one to go ahead with for your community?
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Pramod Rao
July 30, 2021

Online communities are on the rise!

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And rightly so, to battle the fatigue of working from home, missing out on networking opportunities that happen from offline events otherwise and a place to learn together with folks who share your passion or interests.

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Creator communities, learning communities and Brand communities are hot right now! The community has turned out to be the primary source to gather real-time feedback on products/content, to learn about upcoming trends in the industry and to gain loyal followers/users. Communicating with the users/followers through community helps build a stronger relationship than what social media could achieve.

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Where there's demand, multiple solutions will come up. We've seen a rise of community platforms - chat based as well as forum based ones. How do you know which one to go ahead with for your community?

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How do you pick a community platform? Here's how πŸ‘‡

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Define the Community Personas

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  • Community personas describe your ideal community member's identity. Who are you building the community for? Try to be as specific as possible in your answer e.g. I'm building a community for Indie hackers and solopreneurs who are building profitable businesses.

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Here are 3 steps to help you define your community persona:

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  • Have a short bio in mind: what is the professional background of your community members? Can it be summarized in one line?
  • Define Specifics: anything that adds more detail and helps you narrow down who your community members are. Location, professional role, industry expertise, etc.
  • User's expectations: articulate what the user wants to gain from the community and what would he/she be willing to share with the community. This will help you streamline the engagement rituals for your members, basis their personal choices.

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Identifying your community personas will help you streamline the content, engagement and networking events for your members, basis which you can pick a platform that facilitates all/most of your checklists.

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Solving Community Pain Points

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  • What are some of the most important day-to-day tasks you perform to accomplish your goals/objectives?
  • Do you face any difficulty in performing those activities or tasks?
  • How do you go about overcoming the difficulty?

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"The strongest communities are built around a pain or struggle that people feel shame around. Identify a pain that people are experiencing, and create a space where they're accepted because of that pain. Give them a place where they don't have to feel shame." - David Spinks

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Pick a platform that simplifies/automates tasks that lead to ultimately addressing your community member's pain points. Ex: If it's a community around Product Management and one of the major pain point of the members is access to PM leaders - pick a platform that helps facilitate easy video calls, networking sessions, AMAs, etc with these folks and also lets you archive these conversations in their content repository or integrates with a content management tool.

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Understanding community motivations and goals

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Why is it important to have a good understanding of your member's aspirations and goals?

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  • Helps you customize the community experience to help members be accountable to and help each other
  • Connect members to the right members or mentors
  • Depending on the patterns that emerge, it can help you design the community space and rituals to cater to the community's needs
  • Helps you track outcomes for each member and can act as a feedback loop

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Define the engagement rituals and content to be hared, basis this. It'll help you narrow down the tools/features you would want to see in your community platform.

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List down all tools you would need

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Once you have the wishlist of features/integrations with you, pick one of these top platforms that support your community the most πŸ‘‡

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Chat Based Platforms - Synchronous Communication

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1) Slack

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  • Slack is a workplace communication tool essentially for messaging and sharing files.
  • Slack also allows integrations with external tools to enable community management There are two methods of chat in Slack: channels (group chat), and direct message or DM (1:1 chat).
  • Slack makes all your tools work better by letting you integrate industry-leading software and custom apps right into Slack.
  • Few well known communities using Slack : Product School, The Product Folks, Creators of Product, Product-Led, Product Marketing Alliance, Future of SaaS, etc.

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Here's a video by Velocitize on how to use Slack for your online community:

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2) Discord

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  • Discord, a popular community tool, was originally made to give gamers a place to build communities and talk. Discord is built to allow members to message each other.
  • Each community is called a "server." You can chat/DM and also share videos, images, internet links, music, docs and more.
  • Few well known communities using Discord : Stoa School, Man Matters, Fampay, Hoezzay, The Internet Said So, etc.

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Here are some tips to create an engaging community on Discord

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Discord has gained popularity for it's voice channels! Here's a tutorial on how you can use voice channels for your community:

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Slack vs Discord - the biggest Question!

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Here are the features each offer, to help you pick between these two:

Slack Vs Discord

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There are few other chat based apps being used for communities. Check them out here.

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Explore other apps

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