The importance of Slack
In 2017, we ran a number of events. At the time, we discussed whether or not we should collect e-mail addresses. I felt that there was not much point in doing this, so I have now collected the messages that I sent to members of the management team at the time.
We do not really look at e-mails very much, do we?
I believe that Slack will become increasingly more important in the future. Among groups of technical people, there have recently been many that have created their own Slack channels. I believe that this usage is likely to grow even more.
Up until now, the main technique used was to ask people to sign up for a mailing list. However, communication styles have now started to change, so much so that an increasing number of technical people do not even tend to use e-mail in the first place, opting instead for chat-based communication or Slack channels. I have no doubt that whether you have a Slack account or not will become an increasingly important point in the future. In fact, it will become akin to the olden day technique of collecting e-mail addresses.
What is the Japanese online community ecosystem like?
In gatherings of technical people, many tend to use Twitter, and some even dislike Facebook. Facebook allows you to use your real name to become friends with people, so some kind of box is required for grouping together people who share the same interests or goals.
In the end, this leaves only two options:
- Hold discussions by linking with one another using hashtags on Twitter.
- Join the same Slack channel.
Although option 1 is generally quite satisfactory, Slack is essential for pushing information while maintaining continuity. Slack has expanded to Japan, and it has been made officially available in Japanese, so it is clear that its use in the Japanese market will grow just like in the United States. TV commercials and advertisements on taxis have also started to be displayed around the country. The 2018 version of “let’s collect e-mail addresses starting from now” has already begun.
The history of chat services
Let’s take a look back at the history of chat services.
Have you heard of IRC (Internet Relay Chat)? IRC is a chat service that anybody can use for free, which allows users to communicate using a text-only screen. The Open Source Community still uses IRC to communicate with each other. And, of course, bitcoin also has its IRC channel. The group chat service Campfire was created as an IRC service that can be used by anyone, and not only by PC geeks. The creators of Ruby on Rails, 37signals (currently Basecamp), have become well known as the developers of a user-friendly chat service.
Then, HipChat appeared in the market as a rival to Campfire, but neither managed to seize the market significantly to create any form of upheaval within chat culture. However, this was indeed a testament to the existence of a market for business chat services. Unlike personal chat services such as Skype, the key point is that the management of information is a role that is held by a manager (for example, a company). With personal Skype accounts, if an employee were to leave a company, taking with him any chat history linked to their account, the company would be unable to do any management of confidential information. This issue made it indispensable for group chat services to be made available in business. In Japan, ChatWork is a company that is managing to sell this point and grows successfully in the market.
Why has Slack grown so suddenly?
At a glance, Slack is the only service that has managed to become extremely successful when competing against other similar services. Similarly, the late-starter ChatWork has also fought a great battle, with discussions taking place in the last few years as to why Slack has managed to win, even though it is basically a paid-for service.
One of the reasons for its success is said to lie in its user interface. Slack offers a simple and user-friendly design, with speakers’ icons showing people’s photos, etc., making it easy for users, old and new, to become acquainted with it. Slack has always been an IRC with a user-friendly user interface; however, it has been easy enough to use to merit adopting it as an infrastructure to replace e-mail. This fact has become more important, and also more difficult than it could possibly have been imagined.
Other leading services were never bad, but I personally felt that as a chat service, the sexiness of Slack’s interface was truly outstanding. This was also related to the speed with which it would support various devices. The company worked at great speed to optimize its use on various end-user devices, such as smartphones and tablets, something that could not be said of its competitors. Achieving this is actually extremely difficult.
In addition, Slack’s great scalability has helped the diffusion of the service. For the type of people that would install Slack first and try using it within their team, the fact that it allows you to do a variety of hacks was an important element for converting them into product evangelists.
The importance of chat services in the ICO era
Slack groups are now increasingly being created within the ICO world. Recently, many people have started using Telegram. When building communication channels to generate business, in the past it used to be important to send out e-newsletters and collect e-mail addresses. Then it was all about collecting followers on Twitter, and now this has changed into services such as Slack and Telegram. Making people gather in public Slack channels will become increasingly more important for growing the number of fans of a company.
Slack is normally used for in-house communications; however, it does become much more effective when you create project chat rooms where people can get together and communicate with one another. This is effective due to Slack’s ability to send push notifications. E-newsletters need to be actively read by users, and information on Twitter tends to pass by along the timeline. However, Slack channels send users a little message notification that simply pops up on the screen. An extremely high percentage of users tend to open up LINE coupon messages, and this is because of its push notifications. A few years ago, Karaage-kun coupons were sent out to users, causing a large number of high school students to pour into the stores, but one reason for this phenomenon is because everyone has been infected with “the disease that makes you feel restless unless you turn an unread message into an already-read message.” This really works. It is a very serious illness. Leaving something in an unread state is just sheer agony, isn’t it? Although, sometimes you do see some brave souls with a large number of unread notifications.
When information is pushed to Slack, everyone looks at it. Hence, increasing the number of people in a Slack channel is able to generate value in the future. Although you can do this using LINE groups, this would end up being used primarily by people in Japan. Also, LINE users cannot really expect to have bidirectional and proactive communications among the people in the group.
The importance of business chat will increase in 2018
Currently, Slack is used primarily by geeks, business people, and startups. However, as Slack commercials have started to be shown in Japanese taxis and the like, more generic companies are also likely to start using it soon. ChatWork also aims to do a public offering and increase its user base. Based on this amount of competition, I believe that the number of users of business chat services will increase rapidly this year, almost in the same way as virtual currencies. Hence, by having top-ranking Slack channels now, you can expect them to have a great effect in the future. People will not join one hundred or two hundred Slack channels. This was the same as with e-newsletters; as soon as people signed up to 10 or 20 newsletters, they started deleting them all. In this sense, it is also worthwhile to increase the number of subscribers on Slack now. This is likely to help increase a company or project’s exposure in the future.
Of course, Slacks’ methods and functionality are still to be established, and how much it will be used in the future is still unknown. However, as its costs are not high, I would strongly recommend using Slack. I believe that if you were to operate your business while gathering information about the number of customers, number of registrations, number of communications, and the like, Slack is likely to become a great asset in all projects.