Slack Instant Messaging - The Basics | Part 1

Jeff Herbert | Web Consultant

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Slack is a highly successful instant messenger revolutionising team productivity and communication for businesses all around the world.  

Loaded with features, integration capabilities and team workspaces, Slack can massively reduce your teams reliance on slow email systems and enable live conversations between individuals and groups, send attachments, set reminders, share information and enhance company wide communications.  

Ideal for remote teams, local teams and those on the road between meetings, Slack’s cloud based services and near-flawless apps for iOS, Android and Windows will keep you connected, live and always within reach of your team.

Slack is the instant messaging platform used by the Four Pi team of digital managers, website developers, app developers and graphic designers for all their instant message communication requirements.

Four Pi CEO, Chris Long, has been working remotely for 10 years and has built a successful remote-first business - so he knows a thing or two about the best team productivity software and technology for remote teams, local teams and travelling team members.

In a recent Four Pi Facebook Live Video, Chris discussed the basics of the Slack instant messaging app and took questions from viewers on how instant messaging can boost team productivity - for all industries.

Between this article and Slack Instant Messaging - The Basics | Part 2, we’ll recap the basics of instant messaging platform and Pro Slack Tips that Chris discusses in his videos.

Slack: The Basics | Introduction

Slack is an instant chat system that has become extremely popular for businesses all around the world for a range of reasons that ultimately keep remote and local teams connected and productive:

Slack can be installed where you need it. Whether you’re an Apple Mac or Windows user, there is a native Slack app that can be installed onto desktops and laptops which is smooth, seamless and has great features built in.

Instal Slack on your mobile device. Slack is one of the best productivity apps on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play. For both iPhone and Android, the Slack app seamlessly integrates to other phone systems, has excellent notification settings and is always reliable.

Slack is cloud based. This means no matter where you are - on the road between jobs or meetings, in the office, working from home - your Slack will always be live, up to date and connected to your colleagues and instant chat channels.

It’s free to implement and give a try - more on Slack pricing is detailed further down the page.

Slack Chatbots. We won’t go too deep into Slack Chatbots today, but Slack offers bots to help you manage your daily tasks via conversation. The built in Slackbot can help with setting reminders amongst other things, you can learn more about the Slackbot on their website.

Slack: The Basics | Instant Chat

One of the best things about Slack instant messaging is the flexibility and robustness the easy-to-use platform brings to teams. Slack has the ability to connect individuals, teams, management, groups, themed channels and more.

One-on-one communication. Slack opens a direct line of instant message communication to individuals in your organisation. Instead of bothering the entire team with a quick query or discussion point, you can quickly send a private chat to a single team member at any time.

Group conversations - You can make chat groups of 3+ people and is ideal for broad communication to multiple team members. Slack can support as many group chats as you need, giving your business flexibility to make groups for individual teams, projects, company-wide announcements, team announcements, and much more.

Themed channels. Themed Slack channels are much like group channels though more related to specific tasks or projects that team members need to focus on. A good Slack best-practice is to restrict conversation in these channels to specifically the topic/project/client the channel is themed for.

Private Slack channels. You can make Slack channels private which means nobody else can join unless they are approved by an existing member. Private Slack channels are ideal for confidentiality between admins and management.

Slack does the basics extremely well. In addition to sending text, Slack can send video allowing users to watch video seamlessly. Sending documents, photos, links, file collaboration is also extremely quick, efficient and is stored in the cloud on the Slack platform.

Slack: The Basics | Speed

Given Slack is an ‘instant’ messaging platform, you’d assume speed is a critical feature for it to be useful - and it absolutely is! Incorporating Slack into your team provides a terrific alternative to the old ‘reply’ and ‘reply all’ email features which can add some serious time delays on your projects.

Going beyond the speed of which the text, links, image, etc appears on your screen or device, it allows teams to immediately respond, reduce wait times (like an email experience) and boost your teams productivity.

Four Pi collaborates in cloud based technologies. We use Google Suite which comes with 37 Google Drive Apps that we use to conduct business efficiently. Slack allows us to quickly share the document link to start collaborating within documents together and breaks down the productivity barriers other teams experience.

Send attachments quickly. Send your team, groups, channels and individual team members images, video, attachments quick and easy. Eliminate the delayed email process, or uploading an image to the intranet network - instant asset sharing is a key feature Slack offers businesses.

Seamless integrations across platforms. Communicate and share assets seamlessly between Apple, Windows, desktops, phones, laptops, iOS, Android, etc.

Slack: The Basics | Pricing

You’re only half way through the article and probably starting to realise how important Slack can be to your team - but how much does Slack cost?

It’s important to note that at the time of recording the Facebook Live Video, Chris went through the pricing as it stood at the time. It’ll be worth checking out the live prices of Slack on their website.

There is a FREE version of Slack. Trying the free version of Slack is the perfect place to start. The free version of Slack gets you 10,000 searchable past messages, 10 x apps/integrations, 1-to-1 video calls, two-factor authentication and access to Slack’s basic features. Depending on your business, you could even use the free version of Slack long term.

Slack’s Standard Tier pricing. ~$13 aud/user/month - might be the best Slack plan for you as a lot of businesses fall in this category. Your team can search through entire message histories, video calls for up to 5 people and collaborate with Slack users outside your organisation.

Slack’s Plus Tier pricing. ~$20 aud/user/month - provides you access to the advanced features, permissions and setups plus 24/7 support.  

Slack: The Basics | A Successful Platform

In March 2020, Slack reported they tipped over 12.5 million Daily Active Users using their platform with over 1 billion messages sent on a weekly basis. Even before the COVID pandemic forced industries to work remotely, Slack was proving to be a terrific instant message platform for productivity and workplace communication.

Tech add ons for Slack. You can connect all sorts of other software platforms to Slack, such as project management platforms. Four Pi has used project management systems called Jira and since connecting it to Slack our Four Pi team members get live updates on project progress and tasks (which eliminates the need to disrupt team members by asking for status updates).

Self serve/easy start. Slack makes it super-easy to adopt and implement. Anyone in an organisation can start a Slack without providing payment information or ABN/company details.

The assumed functionality in Slack is incredible. Slack’s built in features leave some competitors in their dust. Simple features like ‘edit message’, time stamps and automatic work statuses will be used without any thought put into it.

Self-sending files (file hosting). Slack allows you to send attachments such as documents, images and videos and stores them in your chat channel. The best thing is that you can send things to yourself - if you’re swapping between locations, computers, devices or mobile phones regularly then you’ll understand the value of getting files onto other devices quickly and easily.

Little or no upskilling needed with Slack. Most people can pick up and use Slack without upskilling thanks to our cultural use of message platforms, such as Facebook Messenger. The features are so seamless in Slack you’ll use them with little to no thought.

Slack is cross platform. Slack can be used on all desktop, devices and mobile devices - even if you use a Windows computer but use an iPhone you’ll experience no barriers when using Slack across platforms.

Google Play Slack App - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Slack&hl=en_AU

iPhone App Store - https://apps.apple.com/au/app/slack/id618783545

Mac App Store - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/slack/id803453959?mt=12

Windows Slack App - https://slack.com/intl/en-au/downloads/windows

Slack boosts team productivity for remote workers and local teams. Simplifies remote team collaboration and enhances local team communication.

What Next?

Slack Instant Messaging - The Basics | Part 2 is available to read at this link: https://4pi.com.au/blog/slack-instant-messaging-the-basics-part-2

This videos above are clips from a Facebook Live on the Four Pi Web & App Development Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/4piweb

Full Slack | The Basics video playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZrl9Ih8iMdzRVy5W4sJKtO7_PkKz1vRK

For more remote working tips and guidance you can follow the official Four Pi Web & App Development channels:

Web: https://4pi.com.au

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4piweb

Instagram: https://instagram.com/4piweb

Twitter: https://twitter.com/4piweb

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4pi-web-and-app-development

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