Slacking Off

January 28, 2016 by 2 Comments | Category Our work

First things first – we have to apologise for the relative radio silence. We’ve been ‘slacking off’ a bit, but hopefully our latest post is worth the wait.

We’ve recently been trying out Slack as a tool to help us manage our work and declutter our inboxes. It’s a handy and versatile tool, used by large companies like eBay, Sony and Yelp, and also by in the public sector with the Australian cabinet reportedly using it. The US government’s digital wing, 18F, has even developed a
bot for Slack that they use as part of their induction process for new starts. Closer to home, although we couldn’t attend, we followed the all the chat around UK GovCamp chat on their slack channel.

For some, the idea of using instant chat for work might sound counter-intuitive, but I’ve found it to really work. I’m often working in a different office from the rest of my team and it’s brilliant for those little thoughts or queries that just need a short answer to be resolved.

It can also integrate with several other services like Google Docs/Calendar, project management stuff like Asana or Trello and tons of other handy apps.

But one of the best added benefits of the tool is the social media integration. Despite our team’s name, our twitter account isn’t as busy as you might expect. We set up a nifty IFTTT recipe to automatically tweet about new consultations, but in terms original content, we’re a bit threadbare. Having had a wee think about why this was the case, I realised that we spend most of the time logged in to our personal accounts. We all use our personal accounts for work-related things, so it makes sense. But the prospect of logging out, logging in to our DE account, composing a tweet, then logging out and relogging into our personal accounts seems pretty arduous.


I noticed that Slack had a Twitter app and thought it might be helpful if we could use Twitter from within Slack. Unfortunately, the app only allows you to see notifications – not to actually tweet. I set about seeing if there was any way to further integrate the two. I figured if we could tweet directly from Slack it would remove several barriers to regular tweeting and engagement.

Fortunately, I found a brilliant guide to doing just that. Basically, you can use a little piece of nodejs code by the fine folks at Smooch, and put it on the cloud hosting platform Heroku. You then set up a slash command (in our case, we use ‘/tweet’) which alerts Slack that any characters which follow should be sent to your twitter account, via the aforementioned code hosted on Heroku.

It’s never going to be as fully featured as the native twitter app, but you can be a little sophisticated with it too. For example, you can reply to users, favourite a tweet and @mention a specific user. You can also play around with permissions so that only certain users can use the twitter function.

Anyway, if you use slack and social media, hopefully you’ll find this helpful! I think that this kind of platform has a strong future in both public and private sector work. There’s already a strong conversation about how government will adapt this new type of working. Everyone agrees we need to break down silos – is Slack the way to achieve this? We liked this quote by Ben Proctor

How do you feel about it?

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  • project igi 3 download says:

    An fascinating discussion may be worth comment.

  • Jono Ellis says:

    We’re big fans of Slack over at the team but I think there’s even more we could do. It could almost replace email… we’re not there yet! I’m loving your work integrating Slack and Twitter.

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