As Somer and I continue to expand our various brands (If you’ve been keeping count – We have 5 now! Chaos & Kiddos, The Studio Hampton Roads, The Hampton Roads Creative, Modern Femme Photography and The “CLICK” Series – yup, we’re insane.), we constantly struggle to keep pace with the different conversations, decisions and strategies we’ve had for the varying markets and platforms. Simply put, that’s a lot of market information to keep straight and it’s been nigh unto impossible to stay organized and focused. And then we discovered Slack. MIND. BLOWN. I couldn’t be more excited to show you how to use slack and why your business needs it. Like yesterday.
Slack is a powerhouse online tool that allows you to organize your business content and keep communication, files and activity all in one place. And that special one place is SEARCHABLE. For Somer and I, that meant ditching Facebook messenger for our daily chats, which meant eliminating scrolling and scrolling and scrolling (and scrolling!) through old messages to find links, decisions or to do lists we had created on the fly during a busy work day. Slack allows us to communicate within the tool (real time) and we can pop search terms in later that will pull old conversation history and remind us what was said. Major win.
Slack also allows us to create different “Channels” for our different brands. We keep our day to day chit chat in our “Direct Message” hot spot, but anything specifically business related (action items, relevant files, pending publications, event dates, etc.) goes into the appropriate channel. Each time a new piece of information is added in a channel, it highlights the channel so that when you sign into Slack, you can immediately see where to head for new updates. It also puts a lovely little “New Messages” line that keeps track of where you left off during your last visit to the site.
Now, onto my very favorite part! Besides the awesomeness that is being able to EDIT your comments and posts, your can STAR comments! And then SEARCH via your stars! For Somer and I, this has become our active to do list. While in conversation, if something gets identified as a task that I need to complete, I star it. Then when it comes time for me to devote a few hours to cranking out tasks, I search by my starred items and there it is! Once I complete the task, I can remove the star and it falls off of the list. YAY!!!!!!
Another amazing feature is the incredibly long list of third party app integration options. Rather than reinventing the wheel, you have tons of options to connect outside resources to Slack, bringing your important files right into the tool for one stop access for everything that keeps your business going. We have all of our logo files, ad files, PDF docs, resources, marketing pieces uploaded to Slack via third party Google Drive app integration. Adding those files to Slack was as easy as getting the Shareable Link from Google Drive and dropping it in a comment. Slack did the rest! We can also post Tweet links and have them show as a full preview and upload Dropbox documents. If we need to chat face to face, a simple entry of /gotomeeting launches the application IN Slack!
They’ve also created a nice little home base for your notes to yourself. Slackbot is your personal rep. They offer tips and tricks, recommendations and even follow simple commands and auto response directives! My personal favorite is the /remind me in <time> to <message> which allows me to set notifications like “Remind me on Tuesday” or “Remind me in 24 hours” to “call Somer” or “check on open inquiries.” SO COOL! There is also a whole SLEW of keyboard shortcuts and slash commands that can prompt actions and even formatting on the fly. I’m still familiarizing myself with all of the secret inside tricks.
Here is what it looks like when you upload files. Images get populated with previews, documents get formal names and attachment links. YouTube videos can be played right inside of Slack (no jumping off to a new window!) and URL links will show a preview. The tool really allows you to access multiple sites and storage files without ever leaving your home screen. No more 300 tabs open on your browser!
Lastly, a major big win for Slack is the easy accessibility. Your account is given a unique URL and each employee is given a unique username and login. Pop that URL into any browser, anywhere, sign in and you’re up and running. No more signing in remotely to your computer to keep up with the office while you’re on the go. You can also create a shortcut application on your Desktop via Chrome, and there is an iPhone and Mac application!
A few features that we don’t put to use, simply because we are a two-man operation:
1. You can tag people similar to Twitter (@somer_anne) and they’ll get a notification of a “Direct Mention” (and can SEARCH by DMs too!).
2. You can create “Private Groups” for private conversations between more than 2 people that don’t require a dedicated channel. For example, you have a company wide channel (that everyone can see), but a sales team private group (that only the sales account reps can see). Keep in mind, channels are in place for transparency. By nature, anyone who joins your Slack site can join the available channels and view what’s going on. This is great for open work environments where everyone is involved and the company believes in keeping its employees completely “in the know.”
I know this is a mega-long blog post, and I have to tell you, I feel like I’m only barely scraping the surface of what this program can do. They really paid attention to every detail. From personalizing your profile, contact information and even a fun picture, to creating a #random channel to encourage people to connect socially and professionally, they’ve created an avenue for companies to work seamlessly in collaboration and transparency, keeping an active, searchable history within reach at all times. Nothing gets lost, no one gets left out, no hunting for websites, information or other portals to sign in. I can’t imagine what our professional life would be like if Somer and I hadn’t discovered Slack. Especially as things are getting busier and busier, just in the short time we’ve implemented it, I can’t imagine how we would have managed our current workload with our old ways. Oh wait…a fun little tidbit for you. Slack is FREE!!!!!