Best Practices for Using TOK Slack

You may have heard that Together Oklahoma does a lot of internal communication on an internet platform called Slack.  Here is a detailed business explanation of Slack and here is the Slack official video tour. Below I’ll briefly explain how and why we use it for TOK and how you can best engage with this tool.

Why do we use Slack?

  • Together Oklahoma members are spread out all over the state and Slack lets us have real time conversations with each other so we can become a state-wide team.
  • Slack lifts the burden of too many emails, confusing email chains, leaving people out of a conversation, and/or including people who don’t want to be included.
  • We can search old conversations, pin links to other platforms like google docs, and have conversations about what is happening at the Capitol in real time.
  • The legislature moves fast and during session we need to be able to have a conversation with each other about bills and strategy without trying to keep up with a million different emails.
  • In Slack, you choose how much you engage with a topic and how often you get notifications or to not get notifications at all.
  • There is a lot more that Slack can do but you don’t have to know all the bells and whistles to find it useful.

How TOK Slack is set up:

Once a Together Oklahoma member fills out the new membership form they will receive an invitation to join Slack. In Slack we have different channels set up for different teams, different topics, AND a few that are for both a specific topic for a specific team.

Example 1.

Let’s look at three channels. There is a channel for TOK OKC called tok_okc, a channel for state-wide events committee coordination called events, and a channel for OKC specific events coordination called okc_events.

  • That way people who want to PLAN the events in OKC can talk about event details in okc_events.
  • Those same OKC events team members can CONNECT to other TOK members state-wide to stay consistent with any state-wide themes or ask questions about best practices in events
  • TOK OKC members can then PROMOTE their event and answer questions about the event in tok_okc.
  • People who don’t want to plan events can be in just the tok_okc channel and not get caught up in the planning details or state-wide connections and theme coordination.

Example 2.

Someone who joins Slack from Oklahoma House of Representatives legislative district 78 and Oklahoma State Senate legislative district 39, both in Tulsa, will be added to the following channels as soon as we see that they’ve accepted the email invitation to join. 

  • statewidetok
  • advocate_self_care
  • tok_tulsa
  • h78_blancett
  • s39_rader

Sure enough, statewidetok is where we talk about things that have an impact on us all and advocate_self_care is where we share tips and encouragement to, as one friend put it, “fill our own tea cup so we can serve others from the saucer.” Based on Example 1, you’ve probably guessed that tok_tulsa is where we promote Tulsa area non-partisan events large and small and talk about things that impact the area and the chapter. Each and every Oklahoman has two state legislative districts, and I consider these two channels some of the most important for you as an advocate.  The person in Example 2 has not only rights as a citizen but also responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is finding the right ways for them as an individual to influence h78_blancett and s39_rader. We can influence not just the legislators themselves but also their fellow citizens with whom they share these districts.  I’ve written a lot more about district teams here. 

Is this starting to make sense? I like to say that Slack is one of those places “where the magic happens” because it is both a little out of our comfort zone and it has great potential for improving the way we do democracy.

Other useful things about Slack:

  • We can send private messages to other TOK members in Slack so we don’t have to ask our fellow chapter or district teammates for their private contact information.  If you have a question that could be answered by any number of people in one group, it might be better to use the group than private message.
  • Slack messages can be searched by keyword, and users can also set up very specific notifications to stay on top of certain conversations by keyword as well.
  • Some channels are private and others are public.  For example legislator_convos and capitol_updates are open to everyone for statewide conversations.  Each legislative district channel is open to only the people in that district, and a few members of TOK leadership, so we don’t all get overwhelmed with too many channels.
  • Google docs and TOK Wiki channels can be integrated with Slack and pinned in the sidebar so you can always find the resources you need.  (more about this soon) 

Best practices in Slack:

Pick a recognizable name– When you first join Slack make sure to set your name to something people can recognize as you.  It may automatically set you as the first part of your email and I probably don’t know cucumberLady5000 from triceratopsBalloon.  Common first names are tricky too.  At last count we had 10 members named Emily and 4 of them have last names that start with the letter G.

Download the Slack App for your phone or tablet if possible– It can be mighty convenient to have your whole team with you on the go. I know some folks only use it on their mobile device because they easily notice their notifications. I alternate between my phone and my laptop because my old lady hands like using a full keyboard and because it is easier to see the useful info on the sidebars of my larger screen.

Keep your posts brief and to the point– We want to catch what you are saying and I’ve found that when folks write more than a paragraph most other members won’t read it. (Yes, I know I should take my own advice.)

Check out the other channels– There are quite a few open channels that may interest you.  You can check them out by clicking the little CHANNELS on the left sidebar in Slack.

Don’t be shy about asking for help– The legislative process is complicated, advocacy takes some work, and we are all new to Slack, so if you have a question, chances are other people have that question too!