It’s been years since many of us at Slack have received an email from an external partner, much less one with the subject line “FW: FW: FW.”
We collaborate with agencies, consultants, customers and more in the same way we do with internal teams: through channels and direct messages. Designed to replace email, Slack Connect extends channel-based messaging to everyone you work with—inside and outside your organization. Today any team can share a channel with up to 20 external partners.
Sharing a channel between organizations makes work faster and easier. We know firsthand. From connecting our leadership team with industry peers, to tightening the feedback loop between our product teams and customers, every team within our walls works with outside organizations in channels. And yours can too. Here are a few of our favorite recent success stories.
Exchanging ideas across the industry, amid a pandemic
As Covid-19 began to spread in early 2020, a group of tech leaders in the Bay Area, including our CEO, Stewart Butterfield, started an email chain about how their companies were responding to a developing pandemic. In April, we invited 14 of those companies—our neighbors in San Francisco’s South of Market district—to bring those conversations out of email and into a dedicated Slack channel.
The group consisted mostly of C-suite executives, who used the channel to share decisions on office closures and plans for pivoting to a fully remote workplace. Anytime people from a new company joined, they could scroll back and quickly catch up on past decisions (and the thinking behind them).
The relationships formed in this channel endure today, and it’s transitioned to a place where company peers discuss best practices. For example, CIOs are now using the channel to trade tips on different software their peers have evaluated.
Although we all dread the prospect of another emergency, it’s easy to imagine how you could replicate this kind of industry-wide knowledge sharing. For instance, you could quickly connect with every company in your building or those near your headquarters and use a channel to share news, answer questions and offer advice—or, better yet, support during uncertain times.
Gathering customers, and their product feedback, in a single channel
Slack Connect has changed how we gather feedback from our largest customers. Cases in point: the recent redesign of our desktop application, and the creation of Slack Connect itself.
In both projects, Slack product managers and marketers shared a dedicated Slack channel with champions from each invited company, who shared their feedback on the new interface before we released it more broadly. When issues arose, engineers were pulled in to discuss and address them directly with the champion.
Meanwhile, every organization could see each other’s feedback and chime in through message threads, sometimes even sharing ideas to mitigate the issues. These message threads allowed us to collect richer feedback in an organized way. Contrast this with working in email, where you might have eight similar responses, and the resulting conversations with each company are siloed in a lengthy email chain.
“We’ve used Slack Connect to build Slack Connect with our customers, gathering feedback about the product and the ways they’re using it with their external teams.”
We also created a couple of workflows using Workflow Builder in the channel. One automatically welcomed new members to the channel with a detailed list of rules and resources. The second provided a structured way of reporting bugs and issues through a form users could fill out from the shortcuts menu (accessed via the lightning bolt icon to the left of the message field).
Almost any company that builds products and runs beta tests with target accounts can use Slack Connect in this very same way—unlocking real-time customer feedback and faster iteration cycles.
Bringing marketing campaigns to life, and across companies
If you work in marketing, you’re probably familiar with the benefits of running campaigns with other companies to reach new audiences. While the potential payoff is high, planning can be tedious and time-consuming as organizations bring their own approaches and teams together. Imagine all the lengthy email chains with creative assets siloed in an individual’s email inbox, and if you weren’t cc’d on it, you’d miss out. Devising a co-marketing campaign completely over email can feel like pulling teeth while herding cats.
At Slack, we regularly work with our partners on initiatives like webinars, events and e-books. We create a channel per campaign where representatives from marketing and sales at each company align on messaging, upload marketing assets, discuss timelines, and so on. Collaborating in this way has strengthened our partner relationships and helped us scale our co-marketing efforts.
Situations like this are where Slack Connect shines. You can bring every partner company, outside agency, artist or freelancer together in a single channel to work together. Anytime someone is added to the project, they can scroll up to review plans, requirements and any active deadlines, along with the previous context and discussions around them.
More ideas to get your team started
There are many more situations where sharing a Slack channel with multiple organizations comes in handy. Here are a few:
Event planning: Even though most events have gone virtual, they still require lots of planning and coordination between multiple partners. From working with speakers on their content to handling attendee registration and tech support, collaborating is much easier when everyone can work together in the same channel.
Connect with subsidiary companies: For larger enterprises—especially those with companies acquired along the way that continue to operate independently—you can connect with all your subsidiaries in a single channel. For example, a media company uses Slack to share knowledge with people in similar roles within their wider organization. When an outage threat pops up in one place, the company uses Slack Connect to talk to stakeholders in each subsidiary.
Mergers and acquisitions: M&A deals are another area where multiple organizations, along with their legal and finance teams, have to work together to reach an often complex consensus. A single channel is ideal for all interested parties to work together without having to follow multiple complicated email threads, and when a decision requires face-to-face time, anyone in the channel can spin up a Zoom call in Slack.
Get started with Slack Connect
Slack Connect is available for all paid plans. The latest update lets you share a channel with up to 20 organizations, creating new ways to communicate, interact, and work on shared projects. That means more collaboration, more transparency and faster decision-making—all while lightening the load of everyone’s inboxes.