Slack has been all the rage for companies and employees over the last year, but now that 2015 is wrapping up it’s making headlines as one of the hottest startups of the year worth $2.8 billion, and it’s expected to see an even bigger reach in 2016. While it may have started as a tool employee’s use on their own, there are ways that you can bring Slack into your company officially and help improve communication and collaboration. Check out how it works below and how you can use it to your advantage.
The Basics: How Slack Works
Slack is actually considered a “messaging app” and is completely free to use. The idea behind Slack is to make communication easier between coworkers with a few advanced features to also improve collaboration (more on this in the last section). Below is a sample screenshot of the dashboard of Slack:
As you can see, it is structured similarly to a social mean stream while keeping tabs separated on the left-hand side. This means that each person will have a potentially different looking Slack dashboard based on the channels they are a part of or created. It offers three basic features:
- Channels. This helps you organize conversations within that Slack team in what they call “open channels.” When you make a channel, then everyone can see what is going on in that channel. This means it’s a good idea to create channels for different projects, topics, or a conversation between certain team members.
- Private Channels. This is the place where you want to include confidential information with just a few team members.
- Direct Messages. This works just like email. Reach one coworker quickly and directly. The screenshot above is showing a Direct Message.
In addition to the three basic features above, you also have a few advanced features to work with that can help take businesses to the next level:
- You can drag, drop, and share your files within Slack conversations. This includes images, PDFs, spreadsheets, etc. You can add comments, star to reach later, and search for these files.
- Paste the link for your Google Drive spreadsheets or Dropbox files and that document will then be in sync and searchable right away.
- Setup integration between Slack and your other apps so you don’t have to switch back and forth and so that you can get notifications within Slack. This makes it easy to use Slack as a one-stop platform.
Keeping things in sync is probably what Slack does best and why Slack is becoming so popular. Not only is everything archived and therefore searchable, but it’s also compatible with iOS and Android so you have the information with you wherever you go.
Getting Started with Slack
To get started you visit the website Slack.com and type in your email address. You are then sent through a series of webpages to get started that include:
- Name your team, which refers to the overall Slack account.
- You’re then given a custom URL that you and your coworkers will use to sign in to Slack.
- Pick a username so that coworkers recognize you.
- Look in your email to setup your password.
That’s all there is to it to get started. You will then be asked to send invitations to your coworkers so that they can be a part of your slack conversation. Once members get your email invitation and join, you can start talking and using the features mentioned above.
5 Ways to Use Slack to Improve Communication in Your Business
So it’s clear that Slack is all about communication, but how exactly you organize your Slack conversations/ channels can help you make sure you’re taking full advantage of the benefits. Consider some of the ways you can use the tool below:
Create a Channel for Blog Posts to Discuss Social Promotion
This is usually where businesses start. Sometimes it’s tough to get everyone in your company on the same page when it come to content, but even your IT professionals can benefit from sharing and knowing what’s happening with the blog. Use this Channel as a way to add links to most recent content that has been published and ask others to help promote on social. Because it can sync with Buffer, this makes it easy for the Channel owner to urge others to share right then and there.
Integrate Slack with Google Drive
By integrating Slack with Google Drive you can truly keep everything in one place. We use this as a way to keep track of the links we earn, which makes an SEO audit much easier. Because everyone can collaborate, it’s easier to make sure you cover all of your bases.
As discussed above, Google Drive isn’t the only app that you can sync with Slack, in fact far from it. Visit this link to see a list of all the apps that are compatible with the tool. They even break up the apps by category, so you have choices from Customer Support to File Management to HR, Productivity, Social, and much more.
Take Advantage of the Open API
This essentially means that Slack is made for developers. The tool makes it easy to add other tools to a developer’s user stream so you can use Slack for payroll, Intranet, advertising, structure management, and more.
Build a Referral Network
According to an Entrepreneur article, freelancers are among those who benefit most from using Slack because they can use it as a way to build referrals. They say that freelance workers make up about 34 percent of the workforce in the US, and 81 percent of freelancers refer work to fellow freelancers. On top of that, 52 percent hire fellow freelancers to collaborate on projects. This makes Slack the perfect place to organize this network and keep the freelance work flowing faster and easier than ever before.
Extra: What Are Slack Credits?
You’ll notice that when you sign up for Slack you can take a survey to earn Slack credits (usually $100). Although Slack is free and has an unlimited free option that is most popular, they do offer a paid option for $6.67 per user per month. This has features such as guest access, priority support, longer archives of messages, and more, which you can check out on their Pricing Page. If you choose to go for a premium package, Slack uses your credits toward your payment until they run out.
Does your company use Slack? What strategies does your company use to help keep things moving in the right direction? Let us know in the comment section below.