How DonorsChoose.org Uses Zapier to Streamline Meetings and Email Campaigns
How Small Businesses Use Infusionsoft by Keap and Zapier to Save Time—and Money
How Zapier and HubSpot Empower Businesses to Do More through Automation
New for Our Slack Integration: Turn Conversations into Action Items with the Zapier Slack Action
The Best Screen Sharing Software in 2019
New for Our Slack Integration: Include Files in Messages, Share File Data Outside Your Organization, and Trigger Off Attachments
New for Our Slack Integration: Set When Status Should Expire
Team Chat Apps Showdown: Slack vs. Microsoft Teams
The 12 Best Team Chat Apps for Your Company
It's the chat app that's taken the world by storm, the tool that's replacing email and IM and everything between. It's supposed to be just for business teams, but its free tier has become the new popular way to form an online community.
Slack wasn't the first team chat app, nor will it be the last—if anything, its popularity has plenty of other apps adding chat features to their latest versions. But as a chat tool built by the team that designed Flickr and then set out to build a game business, Slack is business collaboration tool that feels fun.
It starts with Slack's simple, playful design, with a bright (and customizable) color scheme, large icons, and customizable emoji (yup, you can upload your own emoji and use emoji to add a reaction—similar to a Facebook *Like*—to any post). A random quirky (and customizable) quote appears as its loading. Its design is basic, yet customizable with the colors you want.
All that leads you to Slack's core feature: team chat. You can peek at and join any public channel—or chat group—or could make your own channel. You can reply in a new message, or start a thread that links everything together in one conversation. Your standard random talk will likely go in #general, the default channel, while each team, interest group, and more will likely make their own channels. But since everything's public, you can feel free to see what other teams are up to, and can search through the entire archives of your whole company's conversations.
That is, unless they're private. Slack includes private channels and direct messages, ways to talk privately to groups or individuals respectively. Perhaps you need to plan a surprise birthday party, or just want to see if your coworker is feeling better today—direct messages are perfect for these, and messages here will only show up in your own searches. And if you're wondering what time it is for a teammate before getting in touch, just tap on their name for contact info, current time, and more—a great tool for remote teams.
There's also Slackbot, your friendly robotic sidekick in Slack. It'll ask you a few questions to help setup your account, then can be your personal notifications tool. You can use Slackbot with Zapier or other integrations to send you messages whenever anything happens—a new contact fills out your form, a new sale is made, when you're mentioned on your team blog, and much more.
So, you have a simple way to talk in groups or in private, something dozens of other tools—from email (with cc) to IM—have given for years. But its Slack's integrations that make it indispensable. Drag in a file, and odds are you can preview it in Slack. Or, share a Google Doc, YouTube video, Tweet and much more, and Slack will show a preview right along with your chats. You can even bring in apps, typing
/giphy to find a relevant gif or
/zoom to start a Zoom video chat. Or, you can star a message, and Zapier can send it to hundreds of other apps to help you start work right from chats.
It's not one thing that makes Slack so great. It's all the things it does, in one place, in an interface that makes it fun and easy to stay in touch. It's a team chat app that'll help you do more, together.
Learn how to build your own Slack Chat Bots to get more done right from chat.
Originally published December 23, 2015; updated April 25, 2018 with new screenshots, pricing, and features