If you're like many Slack users out there, you may use Slack for Messaging... and that's about it. But discovering all the cool things Slack can do is like unwrapping presents on a holiday morning – each feature feels like a carefully chosen gift that helps make your life easier. Last year we highlighted apps connecting Salesforce and Slack in a similar blog post while this time around, the focus is entirely on the core features that Slack offers ( ...or will offer 👀 ).
🎁 So, how about joining us as we reveal 12 awesome functionalities that you might not know exist in Slack beyond messaging? Let's jump right in!
Many folks kick off their Slack journey by diving into direct messaging, and a lot of them end up sticking to it exclusively. Unfortunately, this narrow usage tends to equate Slack with something like iMessage, leaving users unintentionally missing out on other fantastic features highlighted here that often go unnoticed and untapped. While the messaging part is indeed valuable, it barely scratches the surface of the vast capabilities that Slack has to offer.
In the world of Slack, channels are where work happens, no matter the project. Think of channels as the cornerstone for collaboration and productivity. They're the go-to for teaming up, sharing info, and keeping everything on track. With Slack channels, it's not just about discussing efficiency and transparency—it's about putting them into action in real-time, revving up productivity, and making work life a whole lot smoother. Plus they provide a history of all the work that has been done on that project for anyone who comes in new to the team down the line and... in the future will be able to be summarized via AI ✨.
Are you looking to minimize the "noise" in your channels? Threads offer teams a way to engage in conversations in a more organized and streamlined manner. Instead of cluttering a conversation with message after message (think of the chaos of iMessage), you create a single parent message with a thread for additional discussion. This not only reduces noise but also ensures that only those involved in the thread receive notifications, as opposed to everyone in the channel getting notified if the conversation continued outside of the thread. Embracing threads is one of the top tips for maintaining good Slack etiquette! Your team will appreciate it!
Imagine you've initiated a fresh thread in a channel, discussing a topic with other channel members. However, the conversation demands a swift synchronous chat—enter the huddle! With one click, a huddle is spawned for the channel, enabling anyone to swiftly join in and address issues on the spot. What's more, huddles facilitate multiple screen sharing and live drawing, allowing teams to collaboratively review live content across various participants. Now, instead of waiting for a scheduled call days down the line, constrained by calendars, you can hop on for a few minutes to keep the work momentum going.
Now that you've become a pro at synchronous communications, let's explore a tool that empowers you with asynchronous communication—the clip! Much like Loom, this handy tool enables you to effortlessly record brief... clips (whether audio-only or video with screensharing) directly within Slack for easy sharing, all neatly hosted in Slack itself. With just a few clicks, you can record a message for your coworker, allowing them to listen or watch whenever it suits their schedule. To go the extra mile, combine this with ✨ Schedule Send and you have a truly powerful way to share messages and information with others asynchronously.
Meet a new addition this year—this feature lets you craft documentation right within Slack. Picture this: you have a #help channel, and you want everyone dropping by to be in the loop about its purpose, the person in charge, crucial links, and any other relevant details. Well, now you can whip up a channel canvas with all that info. Not only that, but you can also create standalone canvases—essentially, self-contained documentation hosted directly in Slack. Oh, and did I mention? You can embed other core Slack features like Clips, Workflows and even other Canvases directly into them.
Apps and Integrations
So you've caught wind that there's a way to connect it to all your systems for seamless work—welcome to the realm of apps and integrations. Explore the extensive Slack App Directory, where you'll discover a myriad of apps and integrations for the tools you're already using. Here's my tip: for any tool you use daily, (1) check the Slack App Directory for a corresponding app or (2) refer to the tool's website/documentation to explore other possible Slack integrations. In most cases, if you're paying for the external application and Slack, the Slack app or integration comes at no extra cost. This means you can handle and automate tasks in Slack without leaving the platform, updating external systems without any additional charges. It's a win-win, making everyone's lives smoother and more productive.
While this feature has been in play since 2018, it recently underwent a significant transformation, receiving a fresh set of robust out-of-the-box steps, platform connectors linking to external systems, additional templates, and enhancements to existing functionality (such as the types of fields on forms). Notably, the File Upload field type was recently introduced in the form step. These enhancements clearly aim to facilitate even more sophisticated automation, both internally within Slack and in the seamless coordination between Slack and various external systems using any of the now 30 platform connectors that are available.
Next Gen Platform
You can effortlessly create custom apps using Slack's new platform via the CLI within seconds thanks to the templates provided by Slack. The best part? These apps are hosted by Slack on their AWS instance, eliminating the need for you to handle infrastructure and hosting, as was required for Slack Bolt apps. You can even build databases directly from the CLI! Picture this scenario: you're working on a workflow, and you wish to integrate a custom step. Well, good news—in a short period of time you can create an app with custom steps that seamlessly plugs into workflow builder. Now, you can blend fully custom solutions with out-of-the-box functionality, empowering your users to accomplish tasks that were once deemed impossible.
In many companies, Slack often finds its place within just one team or, at most, across the entire internal organization. But guess what? There's a game-changer feature called Slack Connect that lets you use Slack externally with any other organization using Slack—completely free of charge. All you need to do is snag their email address, shoot them an invitation to connect (just like any social media tool), and voila! You can now engage with them in Slack either through a DM or channel. This fantastic feature works seamlessly for prospects, vendors, customers, clients—bye email!!
One of the recent enhancements to Slack takes the shape of a revamped user interface, aimed at making you more productive and focused. The beauty of this feature is that it requires no effort from you—just go ahead and use Slack! By the time you read this, if you were accustomed to the "old" UI, chances are you're now experiencing the new and improved version. The updated UI supports new features like Slack Sales Elevate and will soon add a place to access things like Slack Lists.
🔗 New UI
We've covered features reminiscent of Loom with Clips, Zoom with Huddles, and collaborative documentation akin to Confluence or Google Documents with Canvas. Now, envision a Project Management tool fully integrated into Slack, similar to platforms like Jira, Monday, Asana, ClickUp and others—introducing Slack Lists. Currently in its pilot phase, this feature empowers teams to create and manage task lists directly within Slack. Plus you can use Slack Lists with other features like Clips, Canvas and even Workflow Builder to automate notifications based on changes to list items. This eliminates the need of using and having to integrate with third-party project management tools; now, you can simply handle it all within Slack! And if you're currently using Later, you'll love lists as you can create whole lists from messages just for yourself but with much more functionality! So much power here!
*coming soon - 2024
Having absorbed all the information across all the other features and how they interact, you can begin to see the immense potential of AI for a company that consolidates all its data within this single tool. This will initially be manifesting as both channel and thread summaries along with augmented search capabilities, but the future prospects are boundless for AI in Slack. Imagine the possibilities! While encounters with this in real-world scenarios have been limited to conferences or webinars, my hope is to witness its implementation in the wild, ideally within my Slack, sometime in 2024. Link to sign up for the beta is below!
*coming soon - 2024
🔗 Slack AI