5 different ways to use Slack

With 10 million users and growing, Slack has quickly become a fixture of the modern workplace. It’s evolved from a messaging app to the main communications hub for thousands of organizations. If you’re new to using Slack or looking to optimize your usage, take a look at these five different ways to use the messaging tool.

1. Organize by topic.

One simple way to level up your organization’s Slack use is to make naming conventions for related channels, says Jon Brodsky, the CEO of Finder U.S. He recommends all channels with the same topic should start with the same name or abbreviation. “It makes channels really easy to find when you’re scrolling through a massive list,” he says.

Also don’t be afraid to create new channels or spin-off channels. “Whenever we find ourselves talking about a topic consistently, we whip up a channel on that,” says Nick Sonnenberg, CEO of virtual assistant marketplace, Leverage. Creating channels for granular topics helps keep other channels on topic, and can provide a dedicated space for information for new team members or new hires.

2. Check in with your team.

Need a quick update on the status of a project or just want to check in on your team? With Slack, you can use polling apps to find out how things are going on a project. You can also program bots like Standuply to send direct messages to your team with questions like: “What did you do yesterday?” “What are you stuck on?” That’s especially useful if you work remotely from your team members or employees. “It helps you maintain workplace culture in a remote environment,” Sonnenberg says.

3. Go all in.

When it’s time to make the leap to Slack, don’t do it half-heartedly. Move your entire team to Slack all at once, says Sasha Dichter, Acumen’s Chief Innovation Officer. “You can start with one team, not with your whole organization. But it won’t work if half of your team is on Slack and the other half is on email.” After that, all internal communication should happen via Slack — only external communication should require email.

And don’t worry if there are some bumps at first — Dichter recommends giving Slack a three month trial period to smooth out any problems and make sure that it’s really a fit for your organization.

4. Keep it public.

“The most important thing we’ve learned about Slack is that conversations need to happen in public channels if they’ll be useful,” says Brodsky. It can be tempting to just DM people for quick questions or comments. But chances are, if you have a concern or issue, you’re not the only one. Having those conversations publically in an appropriate channel can save time, since that information is now easily accessible. (And if you’ve broken up your Slack channels into more manageable topics that are clearly named, the info will be easy to find).

There are exceptions, however. Channels relating to HR or financials should generally be set to private, given the sensitivity of the information. Use discretion (and some common sense) when deciding between public and private Slack messages.

5. Embrace third-party apps.

“You should integrate these third party apps into your Slack channels,” Sonnenberg says. “You don’t really need to leave Slack— with the right apps, you can make it so you’re aware of what’s going on all over the company.”

With an estimated 1,500 apps available to use on Slack, there’s an app for almost any function you can imagine. From productivity apps to email, file sharing to bots, there’s no shortage of apps that can help elevate your Slack experience and help everyone in your organization work more effectively.

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