Slack has become the de-facto standard for communication inside a startup, but founders make the mistake that it just works. It doesn’t! Without a proper channel framework, employees would not know how to communicate, leading to ineffective communication, lack of visibility, and waste of time.
Over the four years of Epsagon, we crafted a Slack channel framework that worked great for us. Some of it was specific to our company, but most of them can be applied to any startup, benefiting it immediately. It’s the founders’ job to set the correct communication framework from day one.
- Avoid direct messages: whenever possible, try using a channel for communication on a topic rather than DM’ing someone or a group of people. Direct messages are tough to track and search and create a sense of secrecy instead of openness.
- Avoid private channels: similar to direct messages, if the topic is not confidential, we encourage discussing it in a public channel that shows employees topics are being discussed freely with high collaboration.
- Create & archive channels: if you wish to discuss a specific matter that the current channels don’t cover, don’t be afraid to create a new (preferably public) channel to discuss it. Similarly, when the channel is no longer needed, archive it.
These channels have a well-defined and easy-to-understand purpose, making employees’ life much easier when it comes to Slack communication.
If you don’t have any of these, start here.
- #sales: collaborate on how to close deals, auto-update on closed-won deals and their $$$ value from the CRM to celebrate them together.
- #marketing: update on activities such as PR, events, articles, and awards.
- #product: discuss product roadmap, features, and customer requests. You can discuss UX/UI topics here or in a separate, dedicated channel.
- #support: when a customer has a problem.
- #dev: where developers hang out.
Some of these might be new to you, but you will find them extremely helpful in streamlining internal communication.
- #competition: post updates about your competitors, such as fundraising, product updates, and differentiation.
- #product-announcements: new feature announcements by the product team make the sales teams happy and the developers proud.
- #share-content: no more wondering where to post work-related content! Anything that isn’t competition goes here.
- Deal-based Slack channels: whenever possible, create a shared Slack channel and invite the customer to add their people. Shared channels work amazingly well in solution selling, where multiple stakeholders are involved and provide fast technical support to the customer. In parallel, create an internal channel named #internal-[customer name], where only your team members share information about the deal.
Provide a pleasant or fun experience to employees.
- #wins: celebrate wins across the company - only happy stuff in this channel, so why wouldn’t you join it?
- #mentions: get notifications about mentions of your company online (or a competitor). We used Mention, which has a built-in Slack integration. It helped us discover lots of valuable information.
We used automation and particularly Zapier to push all sorts of updates to Slack, the top being:
- Mentions: as mentioned above.
- Demo requests: when a customer requests a demo, it can be pushed to #sales or a dedicated channel, making it visible to everyone.
- Deal updates from the CRM (we used Salesforce): deal creation, closed-won, or closed-lost, pushes an updated. These updates keep the entire team engaged on the commercial side.
- Product sign-ups: a valuable channel for keeping track of new users.
- Subscriptions: if your product supports self-service, this becomes a fun channel where everyone can see new paying customers.
Creating these channels from day one, even if the company is still tiny, will set the foundation for effective communication in Slack. Even if you already have many employees, it’s not too late! You can start improving your startup’s Slack communication today.