What is Slack? Listen up and I’ll tell you.
Launch4Life is excited about a communication tool we’ve started using called Slack. What is Slack? It’s an awesome program for communicating and collaborating with team members.
What’s cool is that you don’t have to be a large corporation to use Slack. It’s effective for small businesses and even solopreneurs. Slack allows remote team members to work together. So whether you’re small team, or a one-person shop with a virtual assistant or a family member that helps you run your business, Slack is for you!
But let me back up and tell you why we began using Slack.
Our Slack Story
Launch4Life will soon be offering some new services. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on that. While we are implementing these new changes we found ourselves in need of a better way to communicate with our team.
While email may work great for Janet and I, we discovered that’s not the case with everyone else we work with. Who knew?
Instead, we learned that instead of email, others prefer to communicate via text. Ack!
The rationale is that email has way too many distractions. Email inboxes can get cluttered up with… too many emails. What’s great about instant messaging is that it’s quicker and much more focused.
Okay, while that may make sense for them, it doesn’t work for me. I prefer email because it lets me keep our communications organized and in one central place.
While I do love my iPhone, I save it for personal use. While I may occasionally use it to text a client, or check email on the go, it’s not my go-to device for business. I‘m “old school” and prefer using my laptop.
So, what do you do when you have team members with different needs?
You build a better mousetrap. You look for one tool that meets the needs of everyone on your team. Which is why we are excited about Slack.
What is Slack?
Slack is an instant messaging tool for communicating with your team.
First up, Slack works on all devices – smart phones, tablets, and computers. So, everyone on the team is happy. Hurray!
More important, Slack is way more than a chat room. It’s a dedicated workspace that allows us to collaborate. With Slack, we can share files, links, and so much more.
Your Slack Workspace
How Slack works is you set up a private workspace for your company. Your workspace is a secure and dedicated area on the Slack server that comes complete with it’s own custom URL. You can access your workspace from any digital device using your URL and logging in.
While you can have Slack open in an Internet browser tab, I found it better to download the free Slack app. I like to have Slack always running in the background. If you want to use Slack on a tablet or smart phone, visit the applicable app store and download the free app.
Inside your workspace you will set up different channels to stay organized. Think of these “channels” as you would think of folders on your computer. You then add people (i.e. members of your team) to those channels on a as needed basis. This helps you keep all the relevant information and people together in one place.
Public vs. Private Channels
Public channels are open to everyone on your entire team. When you first set up your Slack workspace you will have two public channels by default – #General and #Random. You have the option of renaming those channels and/or creating more. It’s your choice.
Whenever you type a message or share a file to a public channel, everyone on your team will see it. Also, all the contents of a public channel is searchable by everyone on your team. That way, if anyone on your team needs to find something they can search for it themselves in the archives. Sweet.
You can also create private channels within Slack. This is ideal for private conversations amongst select team members. Private channels are only open to invited team members. As a matter of fact, other people don’t even see those channels listed, so they won’t feel left out. The private channels you are a member of are distinct because they have a padlock next to the channel name.
You can also send any team member a one-off direct message. This is useful for when you want to send one, or even several people, a quick private message. I believe that you can send a direct message to up to 8 people at once. What I especially like is that Slack lets you know who is currently on-line and off-line.
The direct message feature is especially good for team members that don’t have access to a phone… as you can send and receive direct messages from any digital device.
Sharing Files & Links
So what is slack doing the best? Collaboration.
Slack makes it so easy to share files with team members. You can drag and drop files right into Slack. Easy peasy. The type of files you can share includes: documents, images, pdfs, videos, and audios.
You can even copy/paste internet links into Slack for your team to access. So if you see something of interest on the web that you’d like to share with your team, you can do so using Slack.
What’s great is that EVERYTHING you type or add to your Slack workspace is searchable. Finding messages, files, links, etc., is so simple. Simply type what you’re looking for into the search box… and voila it’s found.
Works Well With Others
The feature that sold me on using Slack was how well it works with other programs. At Launch4Life we use a whole host of online tools to run our business. From A to Z (Asana to Zoom) it looks like Slack works with every program we use. Awesome! The biggest integration bonus was Asana. If we had needed to give up Asana that would have been a deal breaker for me. By the way, if you are a big fan of Asana, check out this awesome article on how well they work together.
I am amazed at how many apps Slack plays nice with. In Slack’s integrations directory there were apps listed that I haven’t even heard of. Which makes this tech nerd girl very excited. There’s probably some cool toys for me to check out.
Your Own Little Slack Bot
If you ever need help using Slack, it’s nice to know you have a trusty slackbot to guide the way. Simply type a message into the direct message chat window and your bot will display the answer. How cool is that?
Customize Your Preferences
Slack allows you to customize your settings. There is even a Do Not Disturb setting that allow you to set your office hours. This means you won’t hear any bings or dings alerting you to new messages. This helps set boundaries around when you work and when you don’t.
Slack’s free plan is one of it’s best features. They offer a free forever plan that is very generous. A small business with simple needs may find they never need to upgrade. Kind of reminds me of both MailChimp and Asana.
- 10k Message Search
- 10 Integrations
- Two Factor Authentication
- One on One Voice and Video Calls 5GB of Total Storage
- Standard Support
So there you have it, that was my quick overview on what is Slack? I will report back in a few weeks and let y’all know how it’s going. In the meantime, below is a good video about what is slack and how it works.
To sign up for your own account, visit Slack on the web.