Why Huntsville United is taking up Slack

As Huntsville United grows we’re working to engage more members, make collaboration more effective and manage our messaging. We’ve had members express their desire to contribute, but because of family and work demands they can’t attend meetings – we’ve created a way for those members to become involved and work to make Huntsville City Schools better.

While Facebook groups are popular and convenient for private/closed community communication, Facebook groups aren’t the only option and in Huntsville United’s case isn’t the best option.

The problems with Facebook groups and why we’re moving to Slack for our private collaborations

Buried Threads – The biggest limitation is that Facebook Group discussions are linear and not searchable. With only one vertical stream of conversation, in a matter of hours a thread can disappear from sight, making it difficult to have ongoing threaded conversation and one can’t return to the discussion to reference valuable shared information to collaborate on projects.

Limited Direct Messaging – Huntsville United’s members come from widely varying circles and most often are not Facebook friends with others in a group. Unless members are Facebook friends, a direct message has be be approved by the recipient. Often the recipient never sees the message.

Privacy and Security – There simply is no way for members to have private and confidential conversations within a Facebook group.

Facebook Noise – Most organizations set up a Facebook group because people are already on Facebook and it’s easy. However, Facebook provides constant distractions, and a group is just one of many notifications that a member might get.

The Facebook group’s metrics show a high engagement by a small set of members. Separating our collaboration efforts from Facebook’s noise can lead to higher engagement and more effective communication and collaboration efforts.

So with all of this in mind, Huntsville United is moving our collaborations and online meetings to Slack.


So what is Slack?

What members will find using Slack as a team collaboration and communication tool:

  • It’s easy to use – Most members who use a smart phone for communication can use Slack. It’s very similar to most instant messaging apps. We can use it as a desktop app, a website or as a mobile app.
  • Threaded and searchable conversations – We can create as many channels as we need. Each committee or issue, topic or action item will have its own channel that can be searched forre levant information. No more lost information in buried threads.
  • Direct messages – We can communicate privately with other members of Huntville United.
  • Private channels – We can set up private channels for specific projects and teams to allow for confidentiality.
  • Search functionality – We can search for resources, documents and previous communications. Searches can be across all channels or within a specific channel.
  • Unread and topic specific channel notifications – New conversations and topic specific notifications.
  • Document sharing – We can upload and share documents, pictures and video. All searchable so members can find the information they need.
  • Multiple Slack accounts – Members can participate in multiple Slack teams/groups all in once place and easy to access. Slack is a growing enterprise app and we’re certain members will find other Slack teams to participate in.

How do we get started?

The Huntsville United Slack team is set up and ready for your input – ready for us to get to work. As we use the tool, the features and capabilities will quickly become apparent.

If you are interested in creating real world change in Huntsville City Schools, look for the Get Involved form throughout the site and Join Our Team. Once you accept the Slack invite please take a few minutes to review the introduction and get started materials – it’s easy to use but if you still have questions, post a note to the z-slack-help channel and someone will answer your questions.

If you want a hands-on introduction, we are planning sessions to get members comfortable with the Slack tool. Look for those soon.

What about the Facebook groups?

Huntsville United uses this website, our Facebook page and its Twitter account to accurately communicate its message. While members of Huntsville United do participate in many of the Facebook groups, Huntsville United is not associated with any Facebook group. We encourage all to actively contribute and participate in the many groups and forums including Let’s Talk – HCS Community Forum, Uplifting Huntsville City Schools, Positive Change for HCS-Count Me In and others.

Huntsville United’s purpose is to foster public understanding of the issues and the current state of Huntsville City Schools. While we have diverse backgrounds, experiences, issues and goals, we’re united in our efforts to make Huntsville City Schools better.

And while our members often have differing views, we agree on the goal of creating opportunities for parents, students, teachers and the community to have an effective voice in determining Huntsville City Schools policy and funding decisions.

If you have any questions or concerns let us know.