By now, you have most likely heard of Slack, the online communications platform that went public on the New York Stock Exchange on June 20, 2019.
But if you haven’t actually tried using Slack for your small business, you are missing out. First and foremost, it’s a great software to encourage collaboration with your team. While it won’t replace email, it could very likely cut down on unnecessary email streams and instead centralize a lot of your communications. And Slack goes far beyond just supporting internal communications.
The Main Benefits of Slack for Small Businesses
The main benefits of using Slack are to allow both public and private discussions inside your company. For example, the administrators of your Slack community can create public channels that anyone in the company can join, like a channel called Watercooler or Hangout for general banter, or a channel for upcoming company events.
You can also choose to create other company-approved channels that are specific to key topics or departments, such as marketing, sales or office procedures. And at your option, you can also others in the company to create new channels.
In addition, the individual users within Slack can message each other directly, either one-on-one or in groups of several people. This is extremely useful for creating ad hocs group discussions that can be followed over time.
Chatting on Slack is fast and easy, whether you are using the desktop or mobile versions. Each user can set his or her notification preferences and even specify when they are away from the office.
In addition to standard messaging, you can also use Slack’s built-in video calling feature.
A Central Hub for Internal Communications
Over time, Slack can become a central repository for useful company information of all kinds, including not only all text posts but any uploaded files such as PDFs. That means users can search for and instantly find a wealth of information in one place. Many companies consider Slack a version of their own Wiki for important company documents.
Integration With Dozens of Third-Party Apps
Slack also integrates with dozens of other software tools, meaning that you can bring information into Slack from other systems like your CRM or calendar—or conversely send information from Slack to another system like your project management software or Google Drive.
This can be a boon to keeping a real-time finger on the pulse of your business. For example, a few of the things I do is get instant notifications in Slack if anyone is on the Go For Launch website and engages with us using a chatbot we have installed. Another integration is using the calendar system Calendly; whenever anyone schedules a call or meeting with me, I am notified in Slack. A third integration I use is to get a notification when someone subscribes to the Go For Launch email newsletter. The three integrations alone ensure that I stay on top of important events and can respond quickly.
The possibilities to tie into other systems are endless, and in fact you can use Slack’s API to build your own if you don’t find what you need in the Slack App Directory.
Free and Paid Versions of Slack
The biggest dilemma most companies will face is whether to use the free or paid version of Slack.
The free version of Slack works great for many companies, although it limits you to basic features which include 10,000 searchable messages, 10 apps and integrations, 1-to-1 video calls and two-factor authentication.
The paid version, starting at about $7 per person per month, adds unlimited searching, unlimited app integrations and other advanced features such as the ability to provide guest access for others outside of your organization—or to share channels with other companies. If you find yourself hitting the ceiling on searches, or decide that you really need more than 10 integrations, then you’ll probably be able to justify upgrading to a premium version.
Want to Try Slack?
One way to try Slack and get a feel for its features is to join Learn Slack, a free community started and managed by Brandon Uttley. There, you can search for good apps to use with Slack, post a question to the more than 1,500 members or just experiment with the various messaging options.
But don’t just stop at joining Learn Slack! Another great benefit of using Slack is that there are hundreds of communities using it, most of which are free to join. Slofile is one of the best directories to find a community that matches your personal or professional interests.
Are You Using Slack For Your Small Business?
Does your business use Slack? Are you a fan, or are you on the fence about its effectiveness? Let me know by leaving me a comment.
Author’s Note: This post first appeared on Anchor.
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