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How to Use Slack and Why Your Business Needs It

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How to Use Slack | Small Business Must-Have Tools
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As Somer and I continue to expand our various brands (If you’ve been keeping count – We have 5 now! Chaos & Kiddos, The Studio Hampton Roads, The Hampton Roads Creative, Modern Femme Photography and The “CLICK” Series – yup, we’re insane.), we constantly struggle to keep pace with the different conversations, decisions and strategies we’ve had for the varying markets and platforms. Simply put, that’s a lot of market information to keep straight and it’s been nigh unto impossible to stay organized and focused. And then we discovered Slack. MIND. BLOWN. I couldn’t be more excited to show you how to use slack and why your business needs it. Like yesterday.

How to Use Slack | Small Business Must-Have Tools

Slack is a powerhouse online tool that allows you to organize your business content and keep communication, files and activity all in one place. And that special one place is SEARCHABLE. For Somer and I, that meant ditching Facebook messenger for our daily chats, which meant eliminating scrolling and scrolling and scrolling (and scrolling!) through old messages to find links, decisions or to do lists we had created on the fly during a busy work day. Slack allows us to communicate within the tool (real time) and we can pop search terms in later that will pull old conversation history and remind us what was said. Major win.

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searchslackSlack also allows us to create different “Channels” for our different brands. We keep our day to day chit chat in our “Direct Message” hot spot, but anything specifically business related (action items, relevant files, pending publications, event dates, etc.) goes into the appropriate channel. Each time a new piece of information is added in a channel, it highlights the channel so that when you sign into Slack, you can immediately see where to head for new updates. It also puts a lovely little “New Messages” line that keeps track of where you left off during your last visit to the site.

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Now, onto my very favorite part! Besides the awesomeness that is being able to EDIT your comments and posts, your can STAR comments! And then SEARCH via your stars! For Somer and I, this has become our active to do list. While in conversation, if something gets identified as a task that I need to complete, I star it. Then when it comes time for me to devote a few hours to cranking out tasks, I search by my starred items and there it is! Once I complete the task, I can remove the star and it falls off of the list. YAY!!!!!!

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Another amazing feature is the incredibly long list of third party app integration options. Rather than reinventing the wheel, you have tons of options to connect outside resources to Slack, bringing your important files right into the tool for one stop access for everything that keeps your business going. We have all of our logo files, ad files, PDF docs, resources, marketing pieces uploaded to Slack via third party Google Drive app integration. Adding those files to Slack was as easy as getting the Shareable Link from Google Drive and dropping it in a comment. Slack did the rest! We can also post Tweet links and have them show as a full preview and upload Dropbox documents. If we need to chat face to face, a simple entry of /gotomeeting launches the application IN Slack!

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They’ve also created a nice little home base for your notes to yourself. Slackbot is your personal rep. They offer tips and tricks, recommendations and even follow simple commands and auto response directives! My personal favorite is the /remind me in <time> to <message>  which allows me to set notifications like “Remind me on Tuesday” or “Remind me in 24 hours” to “call Somer” or “check on open inquiries.” SO COOL! There is also a whole SLEW of keyboard shortcuts and slash commands that can prompt actions and even formatting on the fly. I’m still familiarizing myself with all of the secret inside tricks.

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Here is what it looks like when you upload files. Images get populated with previews, documents get formal names and attachment links. YouTube videos can be played right inside of Slack (no jumping off to a new window!) and URL links will show a preview. The tool really allows you to access multiple sites and storage files without ever leaving your home screen. No more 300 tabs open on your browser!

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Lastly, a major big win for Slack is the easy accessibility. Your account is given a unique URL and each employee is given a unique username and login. Pop that URL into any browser, anywhere, sign in and you’re up and running. No more signing in remotely to your computer to keep up with the office while you’re on the go. You can also create a shortcut application on your Desktop via Chrome, and there is an iPhone and Mac application!

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A few features that we don’t put to use, simply because we are a two-man operation:

1. You can tag people similar to Twitter (@somer_anne) and they’ll get a notification of a “Direct Mention”  (and can SEARCH by DMs too!).

2. You can create “Private Groups” for private conversations between more than 2 people that don’t require a dedicated channel. For example, you have a company wide channel (that everyone can see), but a sales team private group (that only the sales account reps can see). Keep in mind, channels are in place for transparency. By nature, anyone who joins your Slack site can join the available channels and view what’s going on. This is great for open work environments where everyone is involved and the company believes in keeping its employees completely “in the know.”

I know this is a mega-long blog post, and I have to tell you, I feel like I’m only barely scraping the surface of what this program can do. They really paid attention to every detail. From personalizing your profile, contact information and even a fun picture, to creating a #random channel to encourage people to connect socially and professionally, they’ve created an avenue for companies to work seamlessly in collaboration and transparency, keeping an active, searchable history within reach at all times. Nothing gets lost, no one gets left out, no hunting for websites, information or other portals to sign in. I can’t imagine what our professional life would be like if Somer and I hadn’t discovered Slack. Especially as things are getting busier and busier, just in the short time we’ve implemented it, I can’t imagine how we would have managed our current workload with our old ways. Oh wait…a fun little tidbit for you. Slack is FREE!!!!!

How to Use Slack | Small Business Must-Have Tools

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Echo

    January 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Katy! I pinned this!

  2. Dana

    January 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Fantastic article! I’m signing up now! 🙂

  3. Samantha @ Designer in Teal

    January 17, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    This sounds cool!! We just Trello at work but I may have to look into Slack 🙂 Stopping in from the VA bloggers link-up!

  4. Herchel S

    January 17, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    I am intrigued….and you must not sleep. How do you do it all!

  5. Kristen

    January 17, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    I have never heard of this – and I’m laughing at the name of the product because you can’t slack if you are using this! I am sending this to two small businesses that could benefit from this!

  6. Amber

    January 18, 2015 at 12:00 am

    This is such a great review Katy! I’ve worked with this one as well as Trello a little but I’m still on the fence as to which one I really like more.

  7. Becka

    January 18, 2015 at 7:54 am

    oh I like the idea of a personal message being send out when I set. I am always forgetting things. This seems really cool! 🙂

  8. Savanna

    January 18, 2015 at 8:20 am

    This is really cool! Very cool, and tons of features that definitely would make life easier!! Thanks for sharing love!

  9. m88

    January 19, 2015 at 6:28 am

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it
    is popping it up all over the web without my agreement.
    Do you know any methods to help stop content from being stolen? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  10. Jenny B @ Honey and Birch

    January 24, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    This sounds like a great tool! And one I can really use. Thank you for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.

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Blogging Resources

Social Media Scheduling 101: The Basics

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Social Media Scheduling | The Very Basics
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Why is social media scheduling important? 

Today’s culture, both personally and professionally, is driven by real time transparency. There are any of a million ways that we can interact with the world and share our life journeys, which has been the doorway to maintaining friendships, keeping family from afar close and celebrating life with like-minded individuals. But on the other hand, every time that phone blips that a new message has popped up, we’re driven by madness to look. It’s exhausting!!!! And ultimately incredibly time consuming. As a small business owner, the drive to build a following can be intoxicating and the pressure to be available to your clients 24/7 is crippling. How do you actually “do” your business if you’re always distracted by social media? Social media scheduling is the very best way to continue to curate and share content with your audience, while allowing yourself to focus on higher priorities in your personal and professional life.

If I schedule social media am I lying to my followers by “pretending” to be online when I’m not?

Any way that you can automate your workflow to save time and develop a routine, you are being true to yourself, your clients and most importantly, your family. The key is to appear to be accessible during high traffic times, but not actually be sitting there glued to your phone or computer hanging on every word uttered to the social media gods. Social media scheduling allows us to cater to multiple audiences at their individual peek times, gives us the opportunity to stay active and engaged while on the go and makes sure we have time to focus on what really counts.

Social Media Scheduling | The Very Basics

Where do I start?

I have two go-to programs that can work for even the most basic new learners (and have lots of advanced features for those in the know). And bonus…they’re FREE! What we’re moving towards is organized strategy. Social media scheduling allows you to develop a marketing strategy for your business and then execute it. You simple couldn’t do that properly on the fly and would get lost in the weeds. These next two tools can help put you on the path to a social media presence that translates to growth and long-term sustainability.

If you’re just digging into the social media behemoth, let’s put a simple tool to work for you while you get your bearings. Similar to how Instagram can cross post to Twitter and Facebook, Friends + Me can take your Google Plus posts and push them to several other platforms. I personally post to Google + and it carries over to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One action = 4 social media networks.

I’ll admit, this tool can be visually tricky and take a little getting used to if you’re heavy handed with links and tags. Once you get comfortable with how your posts will appear in the different feeds, you’ll tailor your original content to work across the board. It’s a fantastic way to save time by not having to manually cross-pollinate your content to each and every platform individually. It’s a great way for new learners to “phone it in” while you up your social media knowledge and a stellar way for a seasoned social media vet to knock out a task list for simple content shares.

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Hootsuite is the other tool I rely heavily on. In short, it’s a one-stop shop for me to manage all of my profiles on the various platforms that I use. In its most basic form, I schedule all Twitter activity (content sharing) in here or via their Hootlet (content curating).  I can tell you it’s really the Hootlet that is life changing. This little plugin is ridiculously awesome. It allows me to wrap up items of interest in a nice little box with a beautiful little bow instantly and schedule directly from my point of interest. I can open it up from any source and schedule a tweet/share from any of my accounts instantaneously without having to copy/paste links or images into Hootsuite itself. That save of a few clicks is amazing!!!

hootlet

Here’s a snap shot of my actual Hootsuite dashboard (Don’t freak out! I have a million accounts!):
hootsuite
I am able to jump in between accounts and platforms with the click of a tab, and I can schedule posts from the top bar to any of my accounts with just a few clicks. Admittedly, I pay for the Pro version because I work the account with my business partner and I am in love with the bulk tweet upload feature (I can schedule 350 tweets at once just by uploading a simple Excel file!). Instead of having 15 different internet tabs open for each of my feeds and profiles, I can have one program open that allows me to move among them without having to constantly sign in and out depending on which profile I want to use. Again, the goal is to save time by reducing clicks and hops all over the internet and to streamline your visibility to the information that matters most to you. Here are the profiles my business partner and I manage either completely or to some degree on Hootsuite:

 

– Twitter (8 different profiles)
– Google Plus (2 business profiles)
– Facebook (4 business pages and 1 personal profile)
– Facebook groups (2 community groups)
– Instagram (3 profiles)
– Stumble Upon (1 profile)
– LinkedIn (1 profile)

 

Can you imagine if I had to sign in and out of each of these accounts at various parts of my day in order to engage on all platforms?

 

So. How does this ultimately save time? Have I just traded time spent manually posting for time spent scheduling automation? The key here is to carve out time and stick to it. Don’t be scheduling all day! It defeats the purpose. Here are some quick rules to keep in mind:

  • Set a specific day each week (or even an hour each morning/night if that’s better for you) that is devoted to scheduling the next weeks’/days’ tweets/posts/etc. Make that a calendar time in your routine. Stick to it! I do all of my scheduling first thing in the morning. That way my social media profiles are working in the background while I am completing my normal business day and any activity can just be responsive.
  • Commit to a time each evening that the phone/computer gets put away. For example, clients at The Studio now know that our business booking hours are Monday – Friday from 8AM – 5PM. If they email us during that time, they expect a response. But if they email outside of that time, they know they’ll hear from us during the next business day. We’ve educated them and we’re training ourselves. Now, when that email dings with a new inquiry, I don’t look at it if it’s after hours. They know, and I know it will be there tomorrow.
  • Give yourself a break! Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok to take a break from time to time on social media. It’s ok to not post every meal, every night out, every stylish outfit. Let go of the pressure to perform. Focus on enjoying the interactions with people and sharing your heart. You’ll find it not only comes more naturally, but more purposefully. Be IN your life. 

Pin this to your Small Business Tips & Tricks Board or your Blogging Resources Board! Don’t have one? Follow me!

Did you like this post? Check out How to Create Hyper-Linked Email Signatures in Gmail!

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Blogging Resources

IBA Blog Conference – October 12-17, 2015

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IBA Blog Conference
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Mark your calendars!!! I have some very exciting news to share!!! The International Bloggers Association is hosting their very first IBA blog conference! The IBA Network-a-thon will be hosted online October 12th – 15th. Yup, that’s right! A virtual conference! You don’t have to worry about travel expenses, child care, vacation time or anything! Just you, me, the IBA, our computers and some amazingly awesome Google Plus Hangouts.

International Bloggers Association | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

Want to hear the very best news? The IBA blog conference is SUPER affordable. Only $10 for your ticket! Even more exciting? Use the code KATY to receive a special Chaos & Kiddos discount! You’ll get $5 off. 50% off! At that price, there’s no reason to miss out on what will be a fun week of networking, learning and blog sharing. The IBA blog conference will be a great opportunity to discover your tribe of blog supporters, learn new tips and tricks, and dig into blogging professionally. Don’t miss out! $5 is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee! Woot! Click on the big IBA right below or click on “Buy this on Selz” to grab your 50% off discount ticket now! Don’t forget to use the code KATY! See you in October!

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IBA Blogging Conference | Discount Code

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Blogging Resources

Twitter Tools to Increase Your Sanity

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When it comes to Twitter, automation equals sanity. Simple as that!

We all know that every business must have a solid social media presence. However, scheduling, monitoring and reporting on your feeds eats up crucial time that can be can better used running your business. Have no fear, there are an endless number of Twitter tools available to help you manage your profiles; saving you precious time and money by working behind the scenes while you stay front and center in your marketplace.

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Here are the strategic areas you want to concentrate on when engaging the Twittersphere:

Schedule it!

Keep those tweets coming without having to sit at your computer day and night. Tools such as HootSuite and Buffer are extremely popular. With multi-feed capacity, flexible layouts and a host of powerful features, these two behemoths will revolutionize how you approach social media across every platform, not just Twitter.

Keep it organized!

If you have multiple accounts, Twitter tools can help organize and implement your strategy.TweetDeck handles this perfectly. Get more involved with Sprout Social that includes CRM features, or SocialOomph to automate and keep corporate accounts clean and tidy. Nobody wants to click back and forth between a million tabs, or spend way too much time signing in and out of several profiles. Organize yourself with a “one-stop shop” approach!

Show off with pictures!

Grab them with graphics to go with your hot content. No time to source images or develop images of your own offline? Check out MavSocial to link to stock images and manage your digital assets as you compose your tweets.

What did they say?

In order to build engagement, you have to know what others are saying about you. Mentioncan monitor your Twitter mentions and even links through to other tools like Buffer. Twitter tools that are integration-friendly are always a win-win. Trends24 tracks the ever important hashtag and hot topics. Never miss an opportunity to keep an open dialogue with your customer base moving forward.

Flashback!

Remember that campaign from 2013? You need to be able to go back and search on what worked and what didn’t. Topsy lets you search all the way back to 2006 while TweetChat helps you keep up with your favorite hashtags and chat with others. Avoid making the same mistakes twice and repurpose successful campaigns for future growth.

Ready, Set, Grow!

Each time someone shares your content, your reach grows. Make it as easy for them as possible with links using Click to Tweet. Everybody loves the easy button!

Report it!

Being able to determine what works and what isn’t provides critical insight that translates to real growth and sustainability. SumAll and Twitonomy help break it down into specific actionable data that you can use to improve your reach in future campaigns.

There are plenty of options out there to help you manage Twitter and other social media platforms. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that works for you and letting them work for you. Which Twitter tools have been pivotal to maintaining your sanity and growing your business?

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