Using Slack the smart way

slack logo

First thing’s first: a short contextualization of what Slack is. Slack is a real-time messaging platform, and, if the first thing that came to your mind when you read that sentence is “it’s just a chat”, then you really need to read this post carefully.

Slack goes beyond than just a regular chat; integrations with apps like Dropbox and Twitter (among others) make Slack an ideal e-mail replacement and a powerful tool for internal communications within a team.

Unfortunately, Slack is commonly used as a chat just like any other, and is sometimes seen as just a trendy app. That is when Slack ends up being meaningless, because that is not its core, so, in this post we are going to learn some tips and tricks of how to take advantage of the real power of Slack. There are too many tools that can make our daily life easier and we are just skipping all those awesome resources, just because we do not know how to use them properly. So, let’s start!

 

Slack Channels

Let’s imagine that we had a meeting with our team, and afterwards, someone has questions, or maybe a member of the team was not in the meeting and wants to know the details about it.

Asking our teammates about it via private message is not the right choice, instead of that, we should ask in a group channel (channels work in the same way as hashtags to filter by topics), and if we want to mention somebody specifically, we can also tag her/him and they will be notified.


In this way, we do not need to ask the same to one by one privately, but just asking once in the channel, the first of your colleagues who knows the answer, can reply.

 

“Quick Switcher”

Slack’s “Quick Switcher” is the fastest way to open any conversation. On Mac, it’s Cmd + K or Cmd + T. On Windows, it’s Ctrl + T or Ctrl + K. Quickly jump to go to any channel, group, or direct message. Type or use the arrow keys to navigate, then press return to select. It’s a glorious shortcut.

Starred messages

Every message, file and comment can be starred. Just add a star to anything you need to reply to or take action on. Afterwards, you can access your starred stuff, a list of everything you’ve marked as starred, ordered by time. Instant organization.

 

Slackbots

You can even have Slackbot respond with a fixed answer or a random choice.

For example, whenever someone asks something which is commonly asked, like “What is the Wi-Fi password?” the bot can automatically reply, so you do not need to care about those repetitive questions.

Slackbots can also be used as reminders, for instance, you could set up a Slackbot reminder like this: “Remind me about the meeting with Jenny tomorrow at 10:30 am”, and the Slackbot will be in charge of reminding you to do it.
The formula is  “/remind me to do [a thing] at [a certain time or date]”

 

Integrate services you’re already using

We have finally reached the best part of Slack: Integrations. This is what makes Slack so special and different than any other chat tool. In Slack you can integrate the tools you and your team use everyday, like Google Hangouts, Github, Jenkins and more, this lets you know what is your team doing and helps save time. These are some of our favorites at inQbation:

 

  • Bitbucket: You can integrate Bitbucket into any channel to post to a message when code is committed to any repository. This is great for development teams because you instantly know what your coworkers are working on and don’t risk messing up someone else’s work.
  • JIRA: This powerful issue tracker lets you post messages in Slack when an issue is created or reopened, and done or resolved.
  • StatusPage.io: When you use this integration, your team will get a message when a new change is made in your monitored tools and apps, alert everybody when your website is down and calm them down when it’s back up.

 

  • Google Drive and Dropbox: By integrating these services you can sync files in Slack and easily share them using the + (add) button in your messages.

 

There are many integrations you can use and if those are not enough you can even create your own using the Slack API or Webhooks. But let’s leave that for another post.