How We Use Slack (and Why You Should Too)

Slack is a new team-messaging tool with a tagline of, “be less busy.” It’s designed to make collaboration easier and faster – and it doesn’t disappoint!

Slack is so much more than an instant messenger. This single app brings together over 80 apps from all over the Internet into one easy-to-manage dashboard. No more bouncing back and forth between tools. Slack keeps your company’s intelligence in one place for free (unlimited users!)

We love using it and know you will too.

Team Communication Made Easy

Even without the 80+ tools that you can integrate, Slack is pretty powerful on its own. When you first set it up, you’ll be guided through a tutorial where you can:

  • Create channels (the areas where you’ll talk about each project)
  • Start direct Messages (where you an talk to people one on one)
  • Create private groups (only available to the people who are granted access, not your entire team)
  • Invite people with the click of a button

Once you’re in, here are some of the best ways to manage your day, tasks, and team within the app.

Star Important Items

Don’t let something important fall through the cracks. Star messages you want to remember.

You can also bring your most important channels or groups to the top of your list by starring them. This feature allows you to customize your dashboard in a single click.

Fast Reminders

Since I’m in Slack all day, I use this one all the time. Give yourself a private reminder by typing, “/remind me in 5 minutes” or “/remind me tomorrow at 8:00am to look for webinar invitation.” This is great for when you need to cancel a free trial to a website or remember to call someone back.

Search For Important Items

Looking for something specific? Search using the following example commands:

  • from:[insert person’s name]
  • in:[insert channel or group name]
  • has:link [optionally include part of the domain name or keyword]
  • before/after/during: yesterday/today/week/month/year/specific day/specific month

Slack also lets you combine these searches to really help you drill down to what you’re looking for. For example, if you were looking for the link to the Quarterly Report your team member posted last April, you could enter the following search: during: april has:link quarterly report.

Declutter Your Dashboard

Don’t overwhelm yourself with a cluttered sidebar. Hide channels, messages, or groups without unread activity by going to Preferences > Advanced Options > Channel List. This way, you only see what’s new and in need of your attention.

Learn the Shortcuts

There are plenty of shortcuts to make using Slack even faster and more efficient. Some of the ones you’ll want to know, learn, and ingrain in your brain include (these are my favorites):

  • Command + k for the Quick Switcher to jump to different channels or conversations
  • Command + f to search
  • @ + tab to autocomplete a person’s name
  • Up Arrow to easily edit your last message
  • Shift + Enter to move to a new line
  • Shift + Command + M to view your mentions
  • Shift + Command + S to view your starred items

These are just the ones we use regularly. If you want to see all of the keyboard shortcuts available to you, click Command + /.

Chat with the SlackBot

Do you forget your passwords regularly? Always seem to have the same question about what people like in their coffee order? Set up Slackbot to give you the answer at a moment’s notice.

To do this, go to slack.com/customize/slackbot and specify what you’d like Slackbot to say when asked a specific question.

Add Some Fun

Have some fun with your team by adding welcome messages and custom responses in Slackbot. Keep these strictly professional or liven them up with emojis that match your brand’s personality. It might seem silly, but doing this will make Slack even more enjoyable to use.

Integrate Everything

Do you use too many applications to manage your team’s communication? All that toggling between apps is a time and energy drain.

With Zapier integration, you can automate tasks between all the online services you use. This enables you to treat Slack like your company’s dashboard. Keep a pulse on what’s happening in your business by having Zapier and Slack pull the functions of multiple apps into one tool. We use this to track what’s happening across all our apps, making us more organized and nimble.

Here is the full list of integrations available through Slack. Some of the specific integrations we love include:

  • Asana
    • Turn off the barrage of email updates that can come from Asana task and activity alerts, and instead have Asana post them in Slack. And they make it easy – clicking on an alert in Slack will take you directly to the task or project in Asana.
  • Twitter
    • People are talking about you online, but are you listening? Slack tells you when you show up in social media so you can see what’s being said and respond. It’s like a conversation starter, only better.
  • Forms
    • Did someone just fill out a form on your website? Jump on each hot new lead when Slack notifies you it’s ready for you to review. You can act fast so you never miss an opportunity to land a new customer.
  • Customer Support
    • Slack integrates with other customer service applications, such as Zendesk and Desk.com. See all your new tickets in one place by creating a channel in Slack. If you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with incoming support tickets, keep the updates separate.
  • Connect Your Google Calendar
    • You can also connect Slack to a calendar and have it remind you about specific types of events, such as meetings or when a team member is out of the office.
  • Streamline Weekly To-Do Lists
    • Use “Schedule by Zapier” and connect Slack to remind your team about weekly tasks. For example, we use it to remind us to post a team member update each week explaining what we’re up to. It’s like building your own version of the progress report tool, iDoneThis.
    • We have it remind us an hour before our weekly team meeting begins, and include a link to our update form which we fill out each week.
  • Share Articles with Pocket
    • There’s a lot of great content out there. When you read something you know your team will love, share it through Slack using Pocket. When you save an article for later, use #Slack to post it to one of your channels.
  • Share Files
    • Have a video to send to your team to review? Want people to look over a your latest blog post? Share files using a variety of tools, such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Box. Whatever your team is already using, Slack will integrate it making your team’s communication faster and easier.

Has your company tried Slack yet? What’s your favorite feature?

If your team isn’t using Slack yet, click here to setup an account and receive a $100 credit towards your account!

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