Slack as a social network

If you had to ask me which social network I’ve gotten the most value from, I’d say hands down it’s been Twitter. But I’d follow that up with, “when it was old Twitter.”

But with the intensity of our politics, bots, and failure to innovate I think people have been wishing for the early experience of Twitter in something new. Mostly something that provides value instead of spam, and encourages converstaions. 

The reality is that almost every popular social network out today, barring Quora, has hit a scale in which it’s difficult to not muddy the waters with spam, advertising, sales, and watered down content. I.e. Low value sharing.

When Slack was built, the premise was thought of as an email replacement for companies. A productivity tool.

But the elements on their own were heavily borrowed by social media.

The @ and the # are key elements of how slack functions. You can set status updates and share links in a feed. 

And, so in some weird way, Slack looks like one of first open source social networks. Open source meaning you can build your own social network with the tools they give you on their platform. 

If we’re looking at the traditional view of a “social network” with a network affect and a social graph, it doesnt fit. But it’s got the architecture that shows the face of a new type of social network. 

By creating a framework of interaction and messaging, feeds, channels, Giphy integrations and link sharing, anyone who’s interested can build their own dedicated eco-system within Slack. It’s akin to a forum.

While you can’t follow any one person directly, you can follow and mute channels, and join Slack groups which hold your interest. 

The real beauty of slack is it’s balance. In your group, you’ll see a healthy mix of all of these ingredients:

  • Link Sharing
  • Conversations
  • Help/Requests
  • Absurdities
  • Local-Trending topics
  • Serendipity

All of this without any advertising.

Of course, due to it’s mostly private-nature, the scale of a social network will likely never be hit and Slack as a social network will always be limited.

So, what’s next?

The social networks we see today are only one breed. Scale helps aggregate the best media, news and memes. But depth from micro-communities provides deeper value, connection, and attention. The pure speed and quantity of interactions is much more seamless. 

You might post to Twitter a few times a day max, but on Slack you may type out dozens if not hundreds of messages. AIM chat rooms on sterioids. 

A slack group can be built as a social-productivity platform. Something I believe LinkedIn would dream about. Wheter it’s graphic artists, programmers or science researchers, groups who are problem solving can now do so in real time with supportive groups, real time feedback and assistance.

Yes, we’ve achieved the phase of “online profiles.” These profiles let us share who we are and who we wish to be. 

But now it’s time to utilize our knowledge, resource, input and ideas collectively with a group of like minded individuals. 

I don’t think Slack will be the next social network.

But I do think the next social network will take cues from Slack. 



Slack List