A successful business needs great people, ideas, and work ethic in order to achieve its goals. However, all of these elements don’t add up if you don’t have the correct tools reach optimum effectiveness. At Queen City Media we use several different platforms to plan and manage tasks, communicate amongst team members, and create an overall collaborative atmosphere within our business. We also have a robust set of marketing tools that we use daily.
Slack is a quickly-growing communication startup that launched in August 2013. Slack is great as a one-on-one direct messaging system between team members, as well as a place for group discussion.
You can create different rooms (called ‘Channels’ by Slack) to keep discussion topics separate. For instance, we have a channel called ‘#sales’, which logically contains the majority of our sales discussion. At the same time, because we tend to maintain a social atmosphere within the company, we have a ‘#sports’ channel, which keeps all of the casual sports talk from becoming a distraction. The separation of topics keeps our thoughts on one subject linear and free of clutter an unproductive tangents.
You can also create channels that automatically feed information taken from different applications. We have a #twitter channel, which automatically updates the team on the mentions and notifications at @qcmny. We also use #work, which compiles any updates or changes to tasks created on Asana, a collaborative task management software that I will discuss in the next section. Jeseph, our web designer, also uses a dedicated Slack channel to monitor uptime for our client websites.
Asana provides a fairly aggressive statement as their company’s mission: “Asana’s mission is to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.” I’m not sure if I can speak on behalf of humanity, but for Queen City Media, Asana is the perfect application for collaborative task management.
Asana is free for up to 15 people regardless of the amount of projects and space used, rather than similar software like Basecamp, which charges for projects and space. There are additional features that you can pay for that provide you with additional privacy and administrative controls, but we’ve found that, at this time, the free version of the software includes everything that QCM needs.
One thing about Asana that makes my life easier is its simplicity. When I’m using task management software, the act of creating and tracking tasks should not be a task in itself. Creating, checking off, and deleting tasks is easy and intuitive. The three-column view of Asana is very easy to use and keeps everything on the same page, so you don’t have to constantly skip from page to page to see tasks (this sounds like a minor element designed for impatient people, but it is quite helpful for an efficient workflow).
Asana also has somewhere between 30 and 40 keyboard shortcuts, which in all honesty, I am still in the process of learning. However, when I do, switching between tasks will only get easier.
As I mentioned easier, Asana also integrates with Slack, our intra-business communication medium. The combination of these two software platforms has been excellent for the growth of our business, as well as the connectedness of our team members. It also integrates well with iCal and Google Calendar, which is something that other task managers that we tried lacked. Some linked with one or the other, but Asana was the first platform that we found that linked seamlessly with both.
Because Queen City Media manages several Twitter accounts, TweetDeck has become a powerful tool for our company. TweetDeck is a social media dashboard (created by Twitter) that displays just about anything you’d like to about your various accounts while remaining logged in to all of them. You can use it to display any account’s feed, mentions, direct messages, as well any lists or the current trending topics. You can also tweet, retweet, and favorite other tweets from any of your accounts.
Tweetdeck is useful for account managers who also have personal Twitter accounts, so that they can separate their accounts, but also view them all in the same space. For instance, I have a personal Twitter account, but I’m also one of several people who manages the Queen City Media account, as well as an account for a local Buffalo blog that I write and edit for. With TweetDeck, my business, personal and side interests can all be managed within one browser.
A new feature of TweetDeck is collaborative scheduled tweets, which allows you to view all scheduled tweets from anybody who co-manages an account with you. By seeing whatever is already scheduled, there isn’t any confusion about what is going to be tweeted in the future so there is no crossover content. If you are interested in learning more, we recently detailed some actionable ways that TweetDeck can be used to grow your audience on Twitter.
We’re constantly looking for ways to be more efficient at Queen City Media. Not mentioned in this article (because it deserves its own article) is that we use Google Drive for file sharing and collaborative document creation. What does your team use to improve workplace efficiency?