So I was in the digital marketing industry as a regular marketer, and the industry was changing super-fast. I wanted to see what other people were doing, with new tools, strategies, analytics platforms, so I created a small Skype group with 6-7 people that I knew in the industry, and we’d just chat throughout the day, asking if people had seen X or Y or Z. And slowly more people brought their friends, their friends brought friends, other people posted about the Skype group, and it got up to 300 people in a Skype group, and for Skype, in one channel, you can’t mute it, it pops up on your screen. Some days we counted 1,000 messages being sent! So you’d have people saying I love the community, but I have to leave, because this is impossible! And I felt like I had to leave also, but I had to stay - we were at a turning point. 20-30 really chatty people having really interesting conversations, very different than any other community out there because it wasn’t crawl-able by Google - whatever we talked about stayed in there.
And it was all friends of friends, everyone had 3 connections within the community, so we were sharing really in-depth stuff. Things we’d discovered, and it wasn’t on Facebook or Reddit or Twitter. So I named this group “Online Geniuses” as a joke. And then that’s it. My email was filing up with people asking about getting in the Skype group, so I had to figure out what to do! Either I make it a community - it wasn’t making me any benefit, so I could turn it off and add the 10 people I vibe with the most into a WhatsApp group, or we could go back to having casual conversations, or I could find another platform, move everyone over, and let it continuously grow, and maybe one day it will get to 1,000 people in a few years.
So I started looking, I found Slack. And actually, interestingly enough, I thought I’d check it out, registering the domain onlinegeniuses.slack.com - so someone took it, and I figured out it was someone in my existing group! So I messaged this guy on Skype, and he said “Yea, I thought this might be a good platform” so he transferred it over to me. Everyone asked “What’s Slack?” when I said we were transferring over, and I said “To be honest, I think it’s like Skype, but we can handle notifications and make different channels and mute them, it’s all good.” You din’t have the option to turn off Skype, because if you logout, you can’t do anything else on the platform. So I moved it over and announced it, and right away the Skype chat died, and only 10 people moved to Slack, and it came true, but there was no engagement on either.
So I started messaging people, asking if they wanted to join Slack, and they said there were too many platforms, so I threw up a quick website called “Online Geniuses: Apply to Get In” - no more referral. And then with time, people started hearing about slack, they heard about this marketing community on Slack, we integrated different things, we added a newsletter, we started doing webinars and AMAs and roundtables, and formed into a really nice community.