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How To Use Slack in 2021

Are you new to Slack? Want to learn how to use it effectively in 2021? Then you are in the right place. If you don’t know, Slack has recently been acquired by Salesforce.

What is Slack? 

Slack is a communication tool for teams. It brings together people, data and apps on a single platform. Slack can be accessed using web browsers, mobile apps and desktop applications.  

While we all know Slack as a tool that replaces traditional email within organizations, here’s an interesting bit. In a presentation given by Peter Secor, VP of Engineering at Slack a year ago, he described Slack as a fusion of three products: 

  1. Messaging tool 
  2. Collaboration tool
  3. Your Search tool

And it is even more; it is now an entire culture ecosystem. In the next few sections, we will see how exactly you can use it to shape your culture, drive productivity and scale your business.

How is Slack different from an email?

Slack is very different from email. Email is slow, not user friendly and gets difficult if you have to collaborate. Slack on the other hand is real time, fast and helps you collaborate seamlessly. An email once sent can’t be undone, and your boss or client is definitely going to get that typo - with Slack, you can make any number of changes that you want to your sent messages. 

Messaging in 2021 is extremely intuitive, and using Slack as opposed to email makes it a lot more intuitive. When you use an email, you don’t know if the receiver is busy or away, unless they have set an email auto-responder - with Slack you can see if the person you are messaging is online and can see in real time when they are writing a message. 

Email? - You can do better, sign-up with Holopod’s Automated status management  to see how you can make your team’s life better. 

Is Slack for your team? 

Slack is right for pretty much any team out there. But if it helps, consider the following feature and see if they help your team:

  1. Private channels, message threads, shared channels for your team’s collaboration 
  2. Search through message archives and history to find information, files, etc with a powerful search feature that allows you to search by person, channel, file, etc.
  3. Apps and integrations that provide real time information, help your team collaborate in the right moment and take decisions without any hassle 

Those highlights alone should make a case for why Slack is the right communication platform for your team. 

How to use Slack? 

Basic Terminologies for using Slack:

  1. Workspace - Your own private setup of Slack where you onboard your team, share your file and where your organization lives. 
  2. Channel - A group messaging feature where you can add multiple team members. But unlike private group messaging, these channels, if not set to private, can be discovered and joined.

Getting Started With Slack

If you haven’t done so already, go to slack.com and create a Slack workspace. Once you create Slack workspace it’ll come with a few default channels that you can notice (#general & #random). While setting up Slack, you can configure your Slack to automatically add new workspace members to default Slack channels here, to do so follow this tutorial.  

Creating Slack Channels

Once you have created a Slack workspace and have setup your default Slack channels, you can create a new Slack channel by clicking on create a channel as shown in the image below:

We will create a #budget channel, and since the information inside is finance related, we will set it to be private. 

Once you click on create. You should see a new channel added in the list of your channels with a lock icon in front of it as you can see below: 

To use Slack channels effectively follow these Slack channel etiquette:

  1. Make sure you inform someone before adding them to a Slack channel 
  2. Whenever an information or discussion isn’t sensitive in nature, consider pushing it over Slack channels rather than private messages 
  3. Always have a channel description so that anyone who joins or want to join it knows what’s the purpose of this channel 
  4. Consider creating channels for each large project as it often gets difficult to discuss the same project on different team specific channels 

How to browse channels in Slack? 

For channels that aren’t private, you can click on the Browse option, which will open up these options. Select Browse channels here and it will open up all channels visible in your Slack workspace.

Click on a channel that you wish to join, and click on Join

Invite or add users to a Slack channel

To add someone to your Slack channel, go the top right and click on the icon with plus symbol on it (as shown in the image below)

It will open a menu like this

In the “Enter a name or email” field enter the person’s name or email. Also, notice the option for users to automatically be added to this channel if they join your Slack workspace. 

How to use Messaging on Slack?

You have three types of messaging options on Slack: 

  1. Direct messages 
  2. Threaded messages 
  3. Group messages 

To send a direct message, click on the name of the person whom you want to send a direct message. And a new direct message screen will load where you will be able to write and send a direct message. See the example of a private message sent direct to a user 

When any message has more than one reply it becomes a threaded message. For example, let’s add a response to a post on #general Slack channel. You can see what threaded messages look like in the screenshot below.

Most organized Slack workspaces emphasize the usage of threaded workspaces and it’s importance will be evident by looking at these two pieces of information: 

Conversation #1 - Threaded messages 

Holopod1: @devs I need access to DigitalOcean server. Can someone help me? 

  • Holopod3: @holopod can you add @holopod1 to DigitalOcean? 
  • Holopod: @holopod3 sure I’ll add @holopod1 now!
  • Holopod1: Thank you @holopod 

Conversation #2 - Messages without any thread

Holopod1: @devs I need access to DigitalOcean server. Can someone help me? 

Holopod2: @growth I need new resources. Can someone help me?

Holopod: Sure!

No one knows who Holopod actually responded to in conversation #2. It is a good example of why threaded messages are important to efficiently use Slack workspace.   

How to use Slack with Remote teams? 

Your Slack workspace won’t live up to its full potential unless you start using apps with it. Apps like Holopod make your Slack workspace perform in upwards of their potential. Here’s how Holopod makes your Slack workspace better:

  1. Smart calendar brings context to the Slack - Your Slack is updated to reflect your calendar 
  2. Automated Slack statuses - automate your slack status to reflect what your team is working on, if they are off, etc 
  3. Visualize activities to meaningfully break them down to understand how to help your team get the best out of their time

Let’s build a high performing team together - Sign-up on holopod.com