The community onboarding checklist ✅ The Slack CM Newsletter Issue #5
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The Onboarding Checklist
Before we get to the list, let's talk about why onboarding is important.
Sure, it's your first impression but it's much more than that.
It's about turning your new members into experts of your community. It's about information.
The reason is simple. The more your member knows about your community, the more comfortable they'll feel, and the easier it will be for them to engage.
It's scary to be in a new environment. We don't want to immediately jump into conversations. What if my questions have already been asked? What if I'm supposed to speak in a certain way? What if I sound stupid?
Your onboarding process can help eliminate those worries. It can make the new member feel comfortable enough to start engaging.
Let's get to the checklist then.
#1 - Are you asking members to immediately introduce themselves?
Don't. Only the most extroverted and confident members will do that.
Writing an introduction for a community is like walking up to a stage and introducing yourself to a crowd of 500 strangers. It's difficult.
You need an easier first step for your new members.
A great alternative is sending them on to your most active/valuable channel.
Send them to the place in your community where they can get the most value. Allow them to learn more about your community before asking them to introduce themselves.
#2 - Do you have a 'fastest path to value'?
Just because someone decided to join your community, doesn't mean that they're bought in yet.
They're still exploring. They're still not sure that you're providing the value you promised.
A 'fastest path to value' helps you instantly show members that your community is worth the time and effort.
Your community's fastest path to value depends on the value your members are searching for.
Is it answers to technical questions? - Send them to your #help channel and let them see how quickly your members get answers to their most pressing questions.
Is it for industry insights? - Send them to your general channel and let them explore the interesting topics your members are debating.
Is it for networking? - Introduce them to another relevant member ASAP or show them how they can sign up for 1:1s with other members.
Whatever you do, have a fastest path to value.
#3 - Are you sending (at least) more than 1 welcome message?
A single message is not an onboarding flow. You need to have at least 2 onboarding messages.
Multiple messages help you spread out all the information you need to share. They also help you get your members back to your community after they've joined.
Getting someone to join your community isn't the difficult part. Making them come back is the real challenge.
Multiple onboarding messages help you with that.
To set up delayed onboarding messages with Zapier, you can follow this video that I created for Yurii (a fellow reader) a while back!
#4 - Is only 1 person saying hello?
Imagine going to a party and only the host welcomes you. That's okay, but it's definitely not enough to make you feel welcome yet.
What if your new members got a message from you and someone else on your team? How about getting a message from the community manager AND the very busy CEO?
That sounds pretty good, right?
It will make the new member know that there is more than 1 person who cares about them as a new community member.
You don’t need to ask your CEO to message everyone individually. They just have to set up a quick Zapier workflow that is connected to their Slack account.
#5 - Are you only using 1 channel of communication?
Don't send all of your onboarding messages via Slack. Your new members haven't developed the habit of opening your community every day yet.
Try to reach them in other places too with the goal of getting them back to your Slack workspace.
The easiest other channel apart from Slack is email.
Send them a nice email with some fun gifs. Trust me, it helps a lot.
#6 - Are you following up personally?
A personal touch from the community manager can make a member’s experience.
Have your automated onboarding flow, but also take the time to check in with new members personally.
Answer any questions they might have. Create the foundation for a relationship. Or just speak about their interests with them and find out what excites them.
Unless you have hundreds of new members per week, set aside some time for a personalized welcome.
#7 - Are you spreading out the amount of information?
No one has the time to read an onboarding message with 20 sentences, 8 bullet points, and 5 links.
Everyone's attention span is too short for that. Spread out your information. Make it digestible for your new members.
Send your most important information at the very beginning. Anything else can be sent later in your other onboarding messages.
#8 - Are your next steps obvious enough?
Here's a rule of thumb:
Every onboarding message should have 1 goal or 1 action item for your member.
Make that action item as obvious as possible.
Don't overwhelm your new member with 15 different steps they should take. Make it a single one, make it easy.
If you have multiple action items, you might confuse your member. They'll probably end up doing none of them.
This tip also applies to you, the community builder. Does each step in your onboarding flow have a clear purpose? In other words, do you know exactly why your onboarding flow looks the way it does?
Make sure that each step has 1 very clear purpose. It might sound obvious, but it often isn't.
#9 - Do you recognize that people are different?
Not every new member is the same. People will join your community for different reasons, and your onboarding message needs to recognise that.
There are two ways you can do that.
1 - Create different onboarding messages for different people.
Do your members fill out a form before they join your community?
Use that information to create more personalized onboarding flows.
An easy example is creating different onboarding flows for people based on their years of experience.
Less experienced members might be looking for ways to progress in their careers and learn more. Send them on to a channel with helpful tips.
More experienced members might want to give back. Show them how they can answer questions or even mentor some other members.
2 - A simpler way
The first approach can be a bit too much for smaller communities.
An easier way to do it is by adding a few bullet points to one of your welcome messages.
Here are some example messages :
Do you want to network? -> Here's our #networking channel.
Do you want to learn more about the industry? -> Here's the #insights channel.
Are you just looking around? -> Here's our #general channel with interesting conversations.
And that's all 🎉
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This week's goodbye message
So many of you have reached out to me via email or scheduled calls with me through my calendar link and it's the best feeling ever🥺
Speaking to other community managers about their challenges, their passions, and their ideas always reminds me that this industry and its people are the very best. We're actually making a difference y'all.
Here's a toast to us 🍞
See you in the next issue,
Kourosh - The Waves Guy🌊