Today, B2B communication is mostly centered in professional online communities, as they are a great way to expand the professional network, increase industry knowledge, and build a personal brand.
In this article, we are going to cover the most widely-used platforms for building communities where people can communicate for business purposes.
Slack is used by more than 750K organizations not only as a messaging app inside one team or company but as a communication tool with professionals around the world with more than 2000 communities.
To get the most of Slack, become a member of different communities. It will give you the opportunity to cover a number of your business needs. For example, If you want to get more skillful or find a business partner, join the communities dedicated to your business niche and entrepreneurship. If you want to launch a great service or product, go to the community with your target audience. Join the gamers community if you produce accessories for them or the HR community if you make software for HRs.
- Most of communities are free to join.
- A priceless sources of information, where professionals discuss their needs and pains. As the needs of professionals are often business needs, it is a good practice to follow communities in order to get information about your market and the place to fish for leads in B2B.
- Allows you to get inside industry knowledge through sessions where experts answer any questions the channel members have. It’s a great chance to get an up-close look into the lives of industry experts.
- Free plan gives you access to only 10,000 of the most recent messages in the community.
- It’s tricky to find an open community. Most of them are invite-only.
Discord is often called “Slack for gamers”, as it has a lot of features similar to Slack, but is used mostly in the gaming industry. The platform is a text/ audio chat service through the use of servers. Players can join a server specifically dedicated to a game. The server has channels by topic name, such as #FAQ, #rules, #admin, etc. Users can visit each channel individually or send a photo or message to multiple channels within a server by tagging them with channel hashtags.
According to Business of Apps, the platform has over 140 million active monthly users and 19 million active servers per week with 850 million messages sent every day.
Discord is a niche platform, so it won’t be useful for professionals from other industries unless gamers are their target audience. However, if you work in the gaming industry, it’s the ultimate place to connect. Because of Discord’s flexibility, it’s a great space for creators. Many streamers and public figures offer private channels that are only available to people who subscribe to their Patreon, which helps to generate new users.
- Most Discord services are completely free of chrage.
- Integrates with other tools like Webhooks, Twitch, YouTube, and Zapier.
- Great audio sync features
- Large servers. For example, you can host a live video chat with 25 people on a single server
- Ability to use bots.
- IP and protection from DDoS attacks and two-factor authentication to keep unauthorized users from accessing accounts.
- Has no threads, so conversations can get messy and off-topic.
- Limits on users and channels per server. For example, there can only be 500 channels on a server.
- Takes up a fair amount of RAM.
- Limits to file sizes. If you need to share an HD video, for example, such limitations may be frustrating.
With nearly 800 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, LinkedIn is one of the most widely used platforms for business communication. It’s fairly equally popular in North America (196 million users), Europe (198 million users), Asia (206 million users), and Latin America (114 million users) with only Middle East and Africa lagging behind (39 million users).
One of the platform features is groups. LinkedIn groups are a great way to network with people from your industry.
LinkedIn Groups is a dedicated space for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests. Currently, there are 2+ million active groups where members share expertise, seek advice, post, and view jobs, build a valuable community, and establish themselves as industry experts.
You can be a member of up to 50 LinkedIn groups, however, you can join an unlimited number of subgroups of the groups you are already a member of.
LinkedIn groups can be used in a variety of ways:
- Generate leads. It’s a good practice to make a list of potential customers to send personalized messages to prospects and see what they’re posting about (to understand their pain points).
- Find employees. People who thoughtfully answer questions related to their job are likely to be noticed by HRs.
- Gain influence quickly. You can do so by asking valuable questions and contributing regularly and consistently to multiple discussions.
- Get a quick feedback. A well-managed group is full of people whose opinion you value. If you ask direct, clearly-bounded questions, you’re likely to get honest answers.
- Receive valuable insights. If you have a difficult business problem to solve or need an external unbiased viewpoint, you can get professional opinions and advice.
- Has few barriers to join, allowing a range of members to engage.
- Enables a number of ways to send traffic, from adding the link in the group profile, adding the site RSS feed to sending messages, or adding it to the discussion.
- It is allowed to create up to 10 subgroups.
- It is free (unless you want to sponsor posts to drive growth).
- No approval process, so spammers may join. However, unlisted groups (that don’t appear in search results for non-group members) allow you to have more control in this area.
- Unlisted groups are difficult to grow as they are difficult to find. When people join an Unlisted group, they can see who else is part of the group but can’t see the posts.
- If you want to grow, you need to ‘sponsor’ a post to ask people to join your group.
Guild is another messaging platform for professional groups, networks, and communities. It is similar to LinkedIn as both platforms are designed specifically for professionals, free to join, allow creating user profiles, have groups to join, and ‘My Network’ section which shows who you are connected to.
However, Guild has its peculiarities. It is freemium SaaS and has communities that are run and controlled by the host/admins, which means not only custom branding but also access to the conversation, user, and engagement data of their members. Guild was first designed as a mobile/messaging app, so the experience is like a messaging app and optimised for mobile. LinkedIn is a broader platform, for example, e-learning and virtual events can be hosted there. Guild, in its turn, concentrates on conversations and networking.
- Allows companies to customize the platform with their own branding and imagery
- Free for unlimited groups and members
- GDPR compliant, to protect the privacy of you, and your members
- Community-first with a focus on quality and a real sense of belonging
- Low level of integration with other systems
- Medium level of admin management features
Currently, 430 million people around the world use Reddit — a massive collection of forums where people discuss everything. The platform has 130,000 active communities called subreddits dedicated to a particular topic.
Although Reddit is not dedicated to professional communication, people create subreddits to get tips on how to become the best manager or leader, find a job, provide or receive helpful advice and answers to any job-related questions you might have. Some career-related subreddits include:
Becoming an active member of a subreddit dedicated to your business line helps to
earn a reputation by posting expert comments to other people’s publications. Another way to become reputable is to participate in “Ask me anything” sessions — question and answer sessions with experts. Such sessions contribute to strengthening the personal brand and image of the company.
- The audience is diverse, so you can participate in conversations with people from any business line.
- Has the potential to help you create a niche for your business.
- Unmoderated, so it can be difficult to sort out all the mess and find valuable conversations.
Telegram is a general-purpose messaging app, which is often used as a primary communication means within teams for it convenience. The app has 55.2 million daily active users and each user can create channels, which can be private and public. There are a lot of public channels dedicated to professionals where they can do the same as in Slack — share ideas, post jobs, ask questions, etc.
Telegram open channels are much easier to reach but you get distracted by notifications from other channels or people unless you mute them. With Slack, when you switch to a workspace, you can only see channels and private conversations that are a part of it.
- Completely free
- Keeps your messages safe from the hacker attacks
- You can create secret chats that guarantee confidentiality of messaging since the information is not stored anywhere.
- A user can create only 10 public channels.
- Too distracting if you don’t mute channels or people.
Xing and Viadeo are other platforms that are a substitution to LinkedIn primarily for German-speaking and French speaking professionals respectively.
- Xing has 20 million members and 50,000 specialist groups. Although it is primarily DACH focused, the platform s used by people from over 200 countries.
- Viadeo has around 65 million users and lets you build relationships with new contacts, create a list of business partners, stay in touch and create business opportunities with french-speaking professionals.
One more platform to seek for advice and engage in a conversation with fellow professionals is Quora. It’s a forum where anyone can ask a question and discuss the topic. The Quora community votes on answers, either up or down. The answers with the most upvotes are highlighted and can be viewed the most.
Some of the platforms are more intended for building professional communities (Slack, Discord, Guild), others are more multi-purpose and communities is just one of their features (LinkedIn, Telegram, Reddit). All of them is a source of valuable information, however, if you don’t want to be distracted by ads or spammers, your go-to places are Slack, Guild, and Discord (for gaming professionals).
Professional online communities are not only a place for growing professional competence, but also the source of clients for B2B business.
The needs of businesses often coincide with the needs of professionals participating in community discussions. So, it’s a good practice to find clients directly in online communities. That’s what Leadguru helps you to do. It is an utomated lead generation and social selling platform for finding prospects in online communities from messaging apps like Slack, LinkedIn, Telegram, Discord, Quora, Twitter, Whatsapp and many others.