Slack Posts New Functionality

Slack is widely acknowledged as the enterprise real-time messaging (work chat) tool with the most traction, having passed the million daily user mark in June. It seems that the company is not content to stay boxed into the work chat category, however. Yesterday, Slack announced and released Posts 2.0, a feature that enables the rich authoring of blog posts and publishing them to targeted collections of people.
Since its launch, Slack has had this feature, called Posts, that lets people write content that far exceeds the length of a normal chat message. However, it was so clunky that few people used it, if they were aware of it at all. To create a Post, one was sent out of the Slack application to a web browser, where text was written using a very simple editor and then saved back to Slack as an entry in the conversation stream of a specific channel or group.
The new Posts 2.0 includes an inline text editor, which improves the experience in two ways. First, it keeps users inside the Slack app. Second, it lets them create rich text with formatting styles like headlines, bulleted lists and checkboxes. Beyond that, the new editor also acts on embedded URLs by automatically displaying graphics, showing previews of websites and expanding tweets.
Once written, Posts can still be shared with specific individuals, channels and groups, whose members can comment directly on the entry (as opposed to creating an chronologically-ordered entry in the Slack conversation stream). This is one of two places in Slack where properly threaded discussions are possible; Files is the other.
There is another important new feature in Posts 2.0 – the ability to save and access Posts in the Files section of the Slack application. So rather than having to scroll through or search the Slack conversation stream to view a specific Post again, it can be easily found in the Files repository. Additionally, if an author stars a Post in the editor or a reader does so in the conversation stream, it will show up in Slack’s Starred Items list. 

Cool, But Do Businesses Need This? 

With Posts 2.0, Slack has complemented existing features with new ones that, in combination, begin to move the application beyond being primarily a work chat tool. Slack has now effectively become a lightweight Web Content Management System that enables blogging (to a targeted audience), file storage and sharing and threaded discussion (around Posts and documents stored in Files only). It’s a lightweight people directory with profiles too. Oh, and it’s still a communication and collaboration tool.
This expansion of mission is fine, but it immediately raises the question that I previously asked and continue to pose about Slack. Why? Do work teams really need an alternative to existing corporate communication and information management applications that already satisfy the same use cases that Slack is addressing? How is Slack better than the status update, IM, blogging, file sharing, and discussion tools for communities (groups) that are bundled in the enterprise social software applications and platforms that organizations have already licensed and deployed?
In addition to the functional redundancy, one also wonders if Slack will ultimately lose its audience by becoming the opposite of what it was originally. The application’s strong initial appeal was the simplicity of its user experience. By adding more communication and collaboration features, Slack risks becoming a complex mess of functionality that few will care to use, especially on mobile devices.
On the other hand, Slack may intentionally de-emphasize its application in the future, positioning and going to market as a platform on which developers can create their own apps. We’ll see. Many already refer to Slack as a messaging-centric platform. Time will tell if that is indeed their market strategy for the long-haul, but, for now, Slack is beginning to look like yet another bloated application.

Yes, blog comments are still worth the effort

Writer-turned-venture-capitalist MG Siegler recently reignited a long-standing debate over whether blogs should have comments or not. Critics argue that comments are mostly noise and are a waste of time, but blogs that don’t have them risk being seen as just a soap-box for their authors.

Social Media Marketing: Is It All Just Hype?

I recently received an email advertising a webinar from HubSpot, an inbound marketing company. The subject line was provocative enough to get me to open it, and it got me thinking about all the hype we’ve seen over social media. Where is this thing going?

25+ Ways to Fill Your Social Media Calendar

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Citibank Red-faced After Censoring Fabulis

Citibank has admitted that a staffer blocked the bank account of gay-networking startup Fabulis and threatened to terminate the company’s account because of what it termed “objectionable content” on the Fabulis blog, but says it has now clarified its internal policies for Internet business accounts.

Just How Often Should You Blog?

Without question, blogging provides an effective way to market your business. And most folks know that, generally, the more frequently you blog, the higher your traffic. But does that mean you should follow the advice of many to create a new post every single day?

Did Citibank Block a Startup for Gay Content?

Jason Goldberg, co-founder of socialmedia.com and Jobster, says that Citibank blocked the bank account of his new startup Fabulis due to what the bank called “objectionable content” on the company’s blog. Could it have something to do with Fabulis being a social network for gay men?