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  2. How to keep your team chat app from becoming a distraction

How to keep your team chat app from becoming a distraction

Brandi Gratis

Brandi Gratis

April 21, 2017

It’s easy for team chat apps to get out of hand. Depending on the size of your company and how active your teams are in your chat app, notifications can start to hit you every minute of every day if you’re not careful.

To keep things streamlined, we’ve put together some best practices for setting up and using Typetalk. Don’t let your chat app become another work distraction.

Creating topics

Naming topics

Come up with a system for creating/naming topics, so it’s easy to find what you need.

For example, if your company has multiple products, you may want to start all product related topics with the product’s name.


  • Typetalk – Support
  • Cacoo – Feedback
  • Backlog – Website


Your individual team likely has multiple focuses/projects going on, so start each of your team’s topics with your team name followed by the focus.


  • Marketing – Social Media
  • Marketing – Email
  • Marketing – Events


For transparency, you may want to give each of your teams their own Announcements topic, so they can update the entire company whenever they achieve a major milestone, or conversely, push back a deadline.


  • Marketing Announcements
  • Sales Announcements
  • Dev Announcements
  • Company Announcements


Not every person in your company needs to be invited to every Typetalk topic.
*However, you can do this in Typetalk if you want, and simply un-favorite the topics for which you don’t want notifications.

It’s better to have a few broad topics that everyone joins, like

  • Announcements topics,
  • Support topics, and
  • fun topics for non-work-related conversations.

(We have a topic called ‘Coffeeshop’ for more lighthearted conversation. People can share whatever interesting/funny/wacky things they want.)

For the rest of your topics, keep your invitees more focused.

  • Only invite your development team to the dev topic.
  • Only invite your marketing team to the marketing topic.
  • For cross-functional projects (i.e. building a new website) that require input from UX, design, marketing, dev, and more, create a topic for it! Invite everyone who will be contributing to that particular project.

The idea is to make sure everyone has a means of sharing and extracting useful information from every other team without getting bogged down by each other’s day-to-day discussions.

Managing Conversations

Keeping things on-topic

You can assign a topic description to every topic within Typetalk. Be specific about what the topic is about and what it’s not.

Adding Topic Descriptions
Example of a topic description

If you notice a conversation starting to switch gears, don’t hesitate to call it out!

Say, “Hey Amy and Steve, this conversation would be better suited for the Typetalk Support topic. Would you mind migrating it over there?” You can always share a message from one topic to another as a link.

As much as people hate receiving notifications they think are irrelevant or off-topic, they also hate realizing they’re the ones blasting others with them. People will gladly take their conversation to a more appropriate topic when asked politely.


Mentions are crucial for getting the attention you need from the right people and giving everyone else a break.

Using the tag ‘@all‘ will mention all members within a topic. ‘@here‘ will mention only those members who are currently online.

To mention individuals, type the ‘@’ symbol into your Typetalk message box. A list of topic members will pop up. You can then search for the name of the person you want to mention. Add as many people as you’d like, and each will get a direct notification to read your comment.

Mentions keep messages more direct. It lets people know exactly when they need to pay attention, and when they can relax and catch up on reading later in the day.

If you’re not mentioned in a message, you can still read any message sent in a chat topic you’re a member of; however, you’ll be notified in different ways:

On desktop

If you’re mentioned directly (whether through @all, @here, or @yourname), you’ll see a numbered app badge in your dock indicating how many unread mentions you have.

Unread mentions and/or DMs.
Unread mentions and/or DMs.

If your Favorite topics have unread messages (but you aren’t mentioned directly), you’ll see a dot.

Unread messages in your favorite topics.
Unread messages in your favorite topics.

On mobile

You’ll only see a badge for direct mentions. For messages you’re not mentioned in, you’ll need to open the app and view your list of topics to see the number of unread messages available.

Favorite topics

If you’ve joined to a topic that you’ll only use if you have a direct question, consider removing it from your Favorite topics.

In Typetalk, you’ll see that you have two topic lists: ‘All’ and ‘Favorite.’ You can flip between the two easily.

For things like say, a help topic that you would only engage in if you had a direct question (and you’re not a part of the team that answers these questions, of course), you can probably remove that from your favorite topics.

You’ll still have access to the chat topic and all messages sent to it. But you’ll have to switch to ‘All’ to find it. By removing it from your Favorite topics, you won’t be distracted by the growing number of unread messages on the side that likely have nothing to do with you. (If they do, people can always mention you to get your attention.)


After a few days, weeks, or months of conversations, you’ll likely find yourself remembering a message you want to retrieve, but not sure how to go about it.

If you can remember who sent it, a few keywords, or if it had an attachment, Typetalk’s search filter is helpful for narrowing down messages so that you can find the right one.

But there’s a better way to group messages for future use, and they’re called ‘talks.’

You can select messages within a topic relevant to a certain subject (maybe an event, website, client, or campaign), and group them with a ‘#Talk Name.’

Add messages to talks by either typing ‘#’ and selecting the talk before you send your message, or by checking the box next to your messages and selecting ‘Add 1 message to’ from your top menu.

To create a new talk, check the box next to your message and, again, select ‘Add 1 message to’ from your top menu. Then, type your Talk Name into the ‘Add a new talk’ box.

When you’re in a topic and want to look at all the messages related to ‘#Typetalk Icons’ or ‘#Meetups,’ simply select that Talk from the top menu of your topic.

Direct Messages

If you’re asking someone something more confidential or sensitive in nature, send them a Direct Message. DM’s go straight to the person you need without any other prying eyes.

Also, if you simply have a question that is completely irrelevant to anyone else but you and this person (and won’t be needed by anyone else on your team, ever), by all means, send it in a direct message. Your team will always be thankful for having fewer messages to read that day.


It’s important to know when you need to tune it all out.

Maybe you need to focus on writing a long piece of content, and notifications keep making you lose track of your thoughts.

Maybe you’re heading into a meeting, and you don’t want notifications popping up on either your laptop or phone as you’re giving a presentation.

No matter what the case is, everyone needs to step away now and then.

With the ‘Do Not Disturb‘ feature in Typetalk, you can schedule times of the day where you don’t get notifications. (I turn my DND on between 8 PM – 8 AM, so I’m more committed to unplugging and unwinding while I’m at home.)

You can also do set your DND manually. I suggest sending out a message over Typetalk first saying: “Hey everyone, I’m going to focus for the next hour on creating this presentation. Turning my DND on in 5 min. Will be available again after that. Thanks!”

That way people know you’re not available for the next little bit, but they have the opportunity to ask you anything urgent before you go stealth.

Final Thoughts

Chat apps are the solution every team still relying on email needs. It keeps every conversation transparent, organized, archived, on topic, easily retrievable, and searchable. And when used thoughtfully, they can bring your team together for deeper collaboration.

With these couple of guidelines—and a few keyboard shortcuts—your team will become master communicators in no time.

Searching for the right team chat app?

Check out Typetalk, a team communication tool for sharing in real-time.



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