Here's how I use Zapier to automate my community (while staying human)

September 26, 2020

Do not automate things that need human judgement.

But, when possible, automate. As we say at Zapier, "Don't be a robot, build the robot."Human judgement, or "manual" work, needs to stay at the center of any process.

Human Judgement at the center of automation


Here's how I automated the process of approving or denying new member requests to my Build Anything Slack Community.

I can't automate this decision. 

Instead, I use Zapier to automate around this decision.

I inform my decision by asking each applicant two questions:

  1. What are you hoping to learn from the community?
  2. How can you help others?


Here's how I use the first Zap to automate the confirmation and notification


Zap screenshot


Steps 1-4 of the automation run when someone submits the answers to both questions.

Step 1: The Trigger. My website sends an email into Zapier's Email Parser with the new submission. It takes the email address and answers and makes them mappable fields.

Step 2: The Confirmation. I then send the applicant an email letting them know I've received their request and to give me 24 hours to review.

Step 3-4: Record and Notify. I create a quick row in a Google Sheet to record the details and then I send myself an email with the answers to review.


My notification email is the center of the entire automation


More on how the notification email gives me secret powers in a second.


Finishing Zap 1: automating the invitation


Step 5: The Delay. Delay the invitation for 24 hours. This give me the time to review the submission via the notification. If their answers look good, I do nothing and the automation invites them after 24 hours.

Step 6-7: If the member already exists in Slack, stop the Zap. I do a quick search in Slack for the member in case they were added in some other way. Use a filter to only continue the Zap if they don't exist in Slack.

Step 8: The Invite. Send the Slack invite out!


Click here for a template of Zap 1


Zap 2: Skip the line


Zap screenshot

Sometimes I want to add a new member right away. Maybe it's someone I already know or their answers are fantastic and I want them in the community ASAP.

Remember that notification email that the first Zap sends me? Well, it has some special links in it.

One such link will trigger a second Zap. I call this second Zap, "Skip the Line."

Zap 2 will invite the member right away instead of having them wait 24 hours for the first Zap to finish.

I do this through Zapier's webhook trigger. Webhooks allow you to send data through a URL. All you do is click.

So, I created a catch trigger and copied the webhook URL it provides.

I used that webhook URL back in the notification email step in the first Zap.

Add a nifty "?email=" parameter to the end of the URL to send that information along, mapping the email address of the new member like this:

Mapping email address


After you click the webhook URL, Zap 2 triggers with the applicant's email address. It then invites them into the community. Boom!


I put everything I need in the notification email


I include as much information as possible about these Zaps in the notification email.

For instance, if an applicant's responses do not meet the community's standards, I need to delete their pending invitation.

I include a link to the Zapier task history item in the notification email. From the task history, I can delete the task so that the person never gets invited.

I can send a follow-up email from there if it's worth digging in a bit further.


These Zaps save me 15 minutes/applicant


Without this automation, the invitation process would be tedious.

Potential members wouldn't know if I received their submissions. I wouldn't have a central location for responses to the questions I ask. It would involve manually inviting members which is a few clicks and a copy/paste within Slack. It would be hard to invite members on mobile.

I use automation and no-code to make things easy, but never at the expense of human judgement. 


Happy building,


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