If you’ve stepped foot in a virtual office, you’ve probably come across Slack. It’s arguably one of the best tools for managing a team and organizing day-to-day office work. With dedicated channels, the option to bring your workspaces together, and integrated chats and huddles, Slack is an office heavyweight.
But Slack does have some limitations when you try to use it for anything other than managing a work team. And when people want to build different types of communities, they think of this familiar office friend.
The problem is that Slack really isn’t made for different uses. In the office, it’s not used for events or growing relationships between new coworkers. And when you look beyond the office for things like virtual communities, live events, or even building a following, Slack isn’t the best choice.
That’s why we’re going to introduce you to some amazing Slack alternatives to help you figure out what you need. There’s something here for everyone.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or ready to move an existing Slack community somewhere new, let’s go through some of the options.
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article...
What is Slack?
Slack is a virtual office chat and messaging service that was first released in 2013. It really came of age during the pandemic with the rise of remote work, and it was acquired by Salesforce in 2021.
Slack is a combination of conversations that can be organized by channels, chat-type functions, private groups, and a live conversation feature (huddles). It can be integrated with a lot of other software and it’s been the darling of the modern office – probably most comparable to Microsoft Teams, although Teams has grown much bigger in terms of market share. Slack has a free plan, which has made it popular as an online forum discussion tool beyond the workplace.
There are some great things about Slack, and these are the features that have made some potential community-leaders think about it as a possible home:
- It already has members. Slack has been a go-to option for a public community because it’s got the concept of members. This means that, unlike a hosted website, a Slack team has member accounts, permissions, and very light profiles that assume people work on the same team and already know each other.
- There are channels to organize content and conversations. For you as the admin, you can set up “channels” that your members can opt into and contribute to around a particular sub-topic.
- Chat is in real-time. Members can message each other individually, as groups, and via channels.
- It can pull in data and activity from other services. Slack’s “special sauce” is that it’s easy to pull in data feeds and set up automated messages–or “bots”–to interact with members.
- People are using it for work already. Most of all, Slack is familiar to people who want to join your public community because they are already using it for work.
For these reasons, many people with followings or simply a desire to start their own community have chosen to start on Slack.
Where Slack falls short
Unfortunately, while members might pick up Slack pretty quickly, there are countless examples where Slack’s limitations have crushed an otherwise high potential community. Why? Slack has a few notable limitations:
- It’s hard to get a full picture of the community. In Slack, there’s no central Activity Feed, so while it’s a little less noisy than a Facebook group (and doesn’t have the same problem with algorithms and a one-size-fits-all newsfeed), there’s no way to discover new people or content easily on Slack. It wasn’t designed for this, and unfortunately, it limits engagement and makes the job of the admin that much harder.
- Very light profiles limit points of connection. Slack’s light profiles don’t help members introduce themselves with a personal touch. Photos, interests, quotes, taglines—these show personality. They are what people need to virtually get to know each other and feel like they’re talking to real people, even though the community is virtual.
- Rich media and long-form content are impossible. If content is important to your community, you’re fighting an uphill battle trying to build it on Slack. In practice, this limitation means you must also have a website builder, blog, or some other place for your members to access your content.
- There are no polls, questions, or events to engage a community of strangers. Here’s the reality of a public community on Slack: People don’t know each other and they need icebreakers. To get strangers to build relationships with each other requires a central spot for people to congregate and contribute in ways they understand. This is why polls, questions, and events are essential to a public community.
- You can’t easily find members. In a Slack team, there’s no obvious or natural way to find other members. Member profiles are abbreviated and intended for people who already know each other. This is great for small teams, but a killer for a larger network of folks starting off as strangers.
The 6 best Slack alternatives
1. Mighty Networks
Designed for community and delivered under your own brand
If you’re looking for an alternative to Slack that lets you build and organize some amazing conversations, you’ve got to check out Mighty Networks.
Mighty Networks is a cultural software platform that blends community, chat, courses, content, and commerce. And Mighty's flexible Spaces let you build out things like live streaming, live events, awesome live or pre-recorded courses, chat, messaging, a forum, and more. Of course, many of these are features Slack doesn't have: live events, live streaming, and an amazing course platform. This makes Mighty Networks not only a great Slack alternative but a better place to build a robust community.
But there are a few key ways a Mighty Network is different than a Slack channel.
- A Mighty Network is designed to connect people who don’t know each other. With a custom Activity Feed and the option to add a“Welcome Section” for all new members, a “Featured Section” for all returning members, as well as a “Search and Discovery” page, to highlight what’s happening across your community, it’s got the features for strangers to become friends.
- Your community is delivered under your brand on a Mighty Network. You can use your own brand and domain for a Mighty Network, similar to how you’d set up a Wix or Squarespace website. While you’ll access your community on iOS and Android via the Mighty Networks apps, you’ll also have the option to upgrade to get your own mobile apps, too.
- A Mighty Network supports beautiful articles, polls, and questions. Unlike Slack, a Mighty Network supports beautiful long-form articles with photos, videos, files, and embedded features. You can also natively live stream in your Mighty Network, create group chats (or direct messages), and more.
- Awesome courses. If you decide you want to build a course, Mighty Networks has an awesome LMS built in.
- Easily sell memberships. On Slack, you have to set up subscriptions or payment on a website and then trigger an invite to your Slack team. It’s tricky. In contrast, on a Mighty Network, you can charge for membership to the Mighty Network or online courses and/or groups within a Mighty Network.
It all comes with an app customers love!
Mighty Networks isn’t made for managing the day-to-day of managing a team at a workplace – if you’re looking for a corporate alternative to Slack you’d be better to choose Microsoft Teams.
But it is the best in the business for running a community, and it was ranked #1 for community management by G2 this year.
You can try it free for 14 days and see for yourself.
Discord is almost a 1:1 comparison for Slack in terms of the features it gives – but it’s branded to a very different demographic. Discord was created for gaming, but in simple terms it does a lot of the same stuff Slack does. You can create channels, chat, invite members, and organize your conversations.
Discord has a sort of forum functionality too, in fact, that’s probably what it does best. It has customizable member roles and a space to have back and forth text conversations.
If you want to host some basic events, it also has the option to add a voice event, whether a small chat or a larger, stage event if you have the Stage mod. With Discord, you can stream video from a webcam or you can share your screen – although note that not all video with sound will work. These make for limited live streaming options, but you can connect Discord to YouTube or Twitch.
Discord really works best for a free community, and it’s perfect for what it was invented for – building free communities of gamers.
If you want to monetize your Discord community, you have to apply for the “Partner Program” to maybe be given the opportunity to sell plans – it’s not a guarantee. It you build your community on Discord and you decide you want to monetize, you’ll need to go somewhere else, or connect it to something like Patreon.
This makes Discord a good free alternative to the free Slack plan, but it’s not the best space to build a robust community.
3. Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups is a familiar option that’s delivered by the social media giant. It’s pretty easy to add a Facebook group using your existing credentials and account, and you can build a page and host discussions.
A Facebook group has a few things going for it. First of all, people know it. Many people have Facebook accounts (whether they use them or not) and the app works well. A Facebook group lets you do things like post and comment, and live stream. This can make Facebook groups a good, simple, and free community option and Slack alternative.
The downside to Facebook groups, that you’ll hear again and again from creators who’ve built with them, is that you inevitably hit an engagement wall.
It’s easy to get thousands of people into a free Facebook group. BUT they probably won’t be totally engaged. In fact, how many Facebook groups are you in right now that you haven’t looked at in years?
Here are a few more challenges of a Facebook group as an alternative to Slack.
- You’re fighting the algorithm: The Facebook algorithm combined with your members’ notification settings will determine whether they see anything from your group. That means you’re competing with cat videos, political rants, and their BFF’s vacay pictures.
- Some people are avoiding it: With the rise of privacy concerns, some people are avoiding Facebook groups altogether. You can’t build a group if members are afraid to join.
- It’s not made for channeled discussions: Finally, as an alternative to Slack, Facebook Groups isn’t built to do what Slack does. It doesn’t let you create and organize discussions or message members. All you get is a wall, and that’s not much to work with.
The other thing to think about with Facebook Groups is the features you might want for a community that even Slack doesn’t give you.
- Monetization: Facebook Groups recently added a membership feature that lets you monetize a group, but you’ll need at least 10,000 members to do it, making it out of reach for many creators.
- Events: Again, Facebook does give you a basic event option with live streaming. But it’s hardly a real place to build robust virtual events for your community.
All in all, Facebook’s biggest selling point as a Slack alternative is that it’s known and that it’s free. It might be a place to start if you’re willing to migrate your group to another community platform as it grows – but it’s not the best Slack alternative.
4. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is another Slack alternative that, like Discord, does a lot of the same stuff. It gives you an all-around platform that includes individual and group messaging like Slack. Just like Slack has huddles, Teams gives you options to do voice and video calls easily with people in your organization. It can also be integrated with calendar software (like Office) to create one-click meetings and event details, giving you a lot of functionality for everything from small meetings to larger events.
If you’re looking for a 1:1 alternative to Slack, especially if you’re running a business, Teams is probably it. In fact, Microsoft built it as a direct answer to Slack. It works great for navigating daily virtual office life – AND in person offices (since let’s be honest, people often message rather than stand up from their desk and walk across the room).
The place where Teams doesn’t work as well as a community builder is that it’s not as good for asynchronous content as Slack or the other alternatives here.
Here’s an example of what we mean. If you were trying to run a community on Teams and you only log on once a week, it would be almost impossible to get a sense of what’s actually happened in the past week. Since Teams doesn’t give you a forum-type organization for your content, you’d basically have to scroll up for miles to read a bunch of old message threads.
For this reason, beyond every other, Microsoft Teams is a good alternative to Slack, but not the best for building communities. We could add to this that you can’t charge for membership or add your own brand, but those are smaller details. The biggest issue is it’s really not made to grow an asynchronous community.
Telegram has rocketed to popularity over the past few years. It’s a combination of SMS and email and gives admins the ability to create huge channels and broadcast to unlimited audiences.
Telegram is great for top-down communication, making it a good Slack alternative for someone who’s looking to relay information instead of engaging. It would work great for, say, an influencer who wanted to broadcast out to thousands of fans at once. It also has monetization features, meaning that you can sell subscriptions to your members with the help of a third-party service. The apps are also great.
But if you’re looking for a community that builds actual multi-directional relationships, Telegram won’t do much for you. Only admins can publish content. Users can click links and answer polls, but it’s more of a broadcasting tool than a community one. However, there is one exception to this limitation. Telegram users can chat with others in the group via messaging. There’s just limited group-wide engagement.
Because of the limits of multi-directional engagement, Telegram is a good Slack alternative for broadcasting but not for community building.
For those living in North America, WhatsApp is around and people know it. But it doesn’t have the giant popularity it has in other parts of the world. In some countries, WhatsApp is the default messaging program.
WhatsApp integrates really well with your phone and social media contacts, letting you bring them together. It gives you features for chatting with individuals or small groups, and you can share text, pictures, and videos. The app also works really well and intuitively, probably part of it’s appeal as an SMS alternative. In fact, it feels a lot like SMS messaging mixed with Facebook Messenger.
WhatsApp is a good Slack alternative for a really small group that needs to message each other (like a friend or family group). It’s best when people already know each other.
Here’s what WhatsApp is not good for:
- Building group conversations: Like Teams, WhatsApp really isn’t made for hosting large group conversations that need a forum. It’s a messaging service.
- Monetization: WhatsApp isn’t really monetizable, meaning that you can’t sell memberships with it. And of course, it has none of the features of a proper community platform like courses and events. It’s a chat app, and that’s what it does best.
Want to try Mighty Networks?
If you’re looking for an alternative to Slack, we hope these options have you excited! Whether it’s running your business or broadcasting to your fans, there’s something here for everyone.
And if you’re ready to try building and monetizing an amazing online community, come check out Mighty Networks! It’s an all-in-one community platform that lets you bring people together, sell memberships and bundles, create online courses, build subgroups, live stream, and host amazing virtual events.