Slack SMS: Should I use channels or threads?
Channels and threads are two of the main Slack organizational methods. In fact, Slack’s distinction between the two are part of what makes Slack so powerful and user friendly. When used correctly and deployed in the right use case scenarios, threads and channels make Slack an organized, efficient collaboration method. Unfortunately, not using them correctly can quickly lead to a Slack workspace that is cluttered, noisy, and time consuming to digest. Understanding Slack channels versus threads will help you personally, your team, and your company stay more organized and efficient.
Let’s dive into Slack threads versus channels.
Slack Channels vs Slack Threads
Slack channels are the mainstay of the Slack workspace. It’s the first way that Slack organizes ongoing conversations. Typically, companies set up a dedicated channel for each project, topic, or team (or a combination of all of those). In general, channels last for a long time, although they can be archived when no longer in use.
On the other hand, Slack threads are used to create organized discussions around specific messages. Threads are best used for short side conversations.
As Slack got more popular, one of the major problems was the sheer volume of messages in a channel. It made it difficult to track “important” messages, as conversations between one or two members would end up consuming a large portion of the feed. With threads, team members can discuss a specific item in detail, without cluttering the entire channel. It also keeps all relevant comments together and connected to the original parent comment.
Understanding and using threads and channels appropriately is key to having an effective Slack workspace. Without proper use, the Slack workspace becomes a jumble of unimportant messages, becoming mere noise. Employees spend more time scrolling than communicating.
When you use Clerk to enable business SMS in Slack, the distinction and proper use of threads versus channels becomes even more important. Since you’ve added another mode of communication, and therefore more total messages, to your Slack workspace, it’s critical to stay organized. This is especially true if you use SMS for customer or client communication. After all, it’s one thing to miss a message from a coworker… it’s a different story to miss a message from a customer.
Clerk supports sending and receiving SMS in Slack in both channels and threads. Here’s our best practice guide for using them.
When to use Slack SMS channels
Direct SMS channels was one of Clerk’s most recent, and biggest ever, updates. We knew that it would be a huge benefit for companies with repeat customers or ongoing clients. Direct SMS channels enable ongoing, one on one conversations with these contacts in their own dedicated channel. Just like how an internal team typically has its own dedicated channel, the “team” including the client can benefit from one as well. With Clerk, you can create a dedicated Clerk SMS channel, where every message sent in that channel will be sent as an SMS to the client.
In this method, any necessary internal team discussion will occur in threads (since all messages are sent as SMS to the external contact). The main channel conversation will all be SMS with the contact. As an example, if an account manager is responsible for the Slack channel with one of her major clients, but the client has a question about a specific product, the account manager may open a thread related to their SMS question to ask a customer support or product developer how to best reply.
Any business that uses Slack SMS for a small number of contacts will benefit from a Direct Slack SMS channel. It brings clarity and consistency to that contact’s communication, making it clear to anyone with access to that channel exactly what has been discussed. See how BoomPay uses Clerk’s SMS Slack channels to run their business.
When to use Slack SMS threads
SMS in threads is how Clerk started. When a new contact texts your business phone number for the first time, it will get posted to the main, shared Clerk channel. From there, a team member can have a text conversation in a thread connected to that first message.
SMS in threads is best used for companies that receive a large number of inbound SMS. Clearly, as the number of external contacts with SMS increases, the more difficult it becomes to maintain individual channels with each. The workspace will quickly get cluttered and overly complex. And if communication is minimal, it’s not worth having a dedicated channel for each contact.
For example, if you use Slack SMS for customer service, you will likely use Slack threads. Each inbound request can hit the customer service channel, and then your internal customer service team can triage the requests to provide support in threads, off of that original channel.
One of Clerk’s most popular use cases is for customer service, which is why the Clerk supports both threads and channels. You can read more about how one of our customers, Pawlicy, an online pet insurance advisor, uses Clerk with threads.
Send SMS from Slack Channels and Threads
Slack SMS is an incredible tool that can ramp up your employee productivity and your profitability. From sales to marketing to customer service and more, Clerk opens up new ways of thinking about external communication. Text messaging is the best way to get in front of people, and with Clerk, you can harness the power of text messaging right inside the Slack workspace you’re already using.