In 2014, our team at Doist tried Slack. We were looking for a virtual workspace where our remote team could collaborate more easily, and Slack’s real-time chat seemed promising.
At first, we made some progress: We brainstormed, asked questions and arrived at a few decisions. But when we tried to collaborate on projects, Slack felt disorganized, even a bit chaotic:
- It was hard to find specific conversations a day later (much less a week or a month). We wasted time searching for important decisions, ideas, and files
- Our team felt like we had to be online 24/7 so we wouldn’t miss anything. We were chained to Slack and couldn’t find the time to focus
- As a remote team, we couldn’t make decisions together. Our North American team would be sleeping while those in Europe and Asia were online, and vice versa
We needed to stay digitally connected, but without the jumbled conversations and always-on distractions. That’s why we built Twist: a calmer, more organized place to work together.
If your team is feeling distracted and overwhelmed by real-time chat, use this guide to make the jump from Slack without losing the hard-earned momentum and culture you’ve built along the way.
Get familiar with Twist
If you’re totally new to Twist, this overview of how Twist works is a great place to start:
The easiest way to learn about Twist is to try it. Sign up at twist.com and follow along with the instructions to create your first team in minutes. Feel free to invite a few teammates to try it out with you, but keep it small so you can pre-plan a warm welcome for the rest of your team later.
Once you’re signed up, you can play around with Twist and see how things work at your own pace. For more suggestions on what to try, read the getting started for new team admins guide.
Learn how threads keep you more organized
When teams switch from Slack to Twist, it’s most often because they had trouble finding important conversations. “When did we make that decision?” “Who was in that chat?” “Where’s the link you shared?” In Slack’s free-for-all chatroom, conversations are jumbled on top of one another and you end up scrolling for minutes to track down what someone said.
By contrast, Twist uses threaded conversations, or threads, around a given topic. Threads are longer, thoughtful discussions that you can track down later by their title.
With threads, your conversations become a searchable library of team knowledge.
Everyone has one central place where they can find decisions, files, and ideas — days, weeks, or even years later.
Make Twist feel like home by adding familiar content
Once your Twist is up and running, you’ll want to set things up for an easy transition from Slack.
Bring your Slack channels over to Twist
Like Slack, conversations in Twist are organized into channels around broad topics. Most of your teamwork will take place in threads inside these channels, so it’s important to keep them well organized for your incoming team.
To make Twist feel familiar for those coming from Slack, you can import your Slack channels in just a few steps. There are three key benefits:
- Your team will already have an idea of what channels are for what types of conversation.
- Your team will be able to look up old Slack conversations within Twist.
- You’ll save the time of recreating all your channels in Twist one by one.
During the import process, you’ll get an opportunity to choose which Slack channels you’d like to import, and after you’re finished you’ll have those same channels in Twist. Each channel will include a thread that contains the channel’s chat history.
Remember that not every channel needs to be ported over to Twist. Use this opportunity to determine which Slack channels are unused or redundant, and leave them behind.
Recreate your Slack channels in Twist
If you’re looking for a cleaner start, create new channels based on your important Slack channels instead of importing them. Simply click on the + next to your Channels header on the left and click New Channel:
By creating a new channel instead of importing the old one, you can reset the team’s expectations. Add a welcome thread to your new channel to discuss the new plan.
Create new channels that suit your team
Once you’re done bringing your Slack channels over to Twist, figure out if you need to add a few more. For instance, at Doist we use a combination of team channels and project channels:
Team channels: Do your teams work closely together? Create team channels so they can collaborate regularly in a dedicated space.
Project channels: Are there projects always on the go? Create a channel for each one so people can get all the information they need in one place.
Every team is different, so experiment with channels to see what works best. For example, you could try employee onboarding, sales leads, account management, and more. At Doist, we have a few recreational channels as well dedicated to health, music, and gaming.
Every Twist also has a #General channel that includes everyone by default. This is where people swap stories, share baby pictures, make team-wide announcements, and where you’ll post a welcome thread for people just arriving to Twist.
Greet newcomers with a welcome thread
Nothing is lonelier than showing up to an empty Twist. If you skipped the step to create a welcome thread during the sign-up process, now’s the time to greet your team and make sure everyone gets welcomed at the door.
Begin by clicking Start a new thread at the top of your #General channel. Then give it a name and start the conversation.
Liven up and organize your post with headers, bullets, links, images and more. It makes things easier to read and demonstrates what kind of formatting is possible.
Once you’re done, hit Post thread and it will be published in the #General channel for your teammates to read.
Continue your Slack conversations in Twist threads
Your team probably has a few pressing topics they’re discussing in Slack. Start threads for each of those conversations in the appropriate channel in Twist so they can pick up where they left off.
That’s it — your Twist is all set. Now you can make a plan to invite the team.
Let your team know about the change in advance
Not everyone likes change, so give your team some advance notice that you want to give Twist a shot. They’ll probably have questions, so here are some key advantages you can share with them:
- Key conversations won’t get buried: As our team has grown, Slack has become chaotic — discussions scroll by too fast and people can’t keep up. Twist uses threads instead of chat to keep everything organized by topic so anyone can catch up and jump in at any time.
- Find past conversations more quickly: Every thread has a name so we can quickly find the conversation we’re looking for and use it to make more informed decisions.
- Less notification overload: We can now notify just the people who need to see a given thread instead of always pinging everyone in the channel.
- Calmer communication: There’s less pressure to always be online. Twist doesn’t have a green light presence indicator so we can disconnect to do focused work and respond on our own schedules.
- More thoughtful communication: Threads are longer posts so we can express our ideas with more depth and clarity and can continue the discussion over days rather than minutes.
Twist day 🌪🕺 Invite your team
The day has arrived and it’s time to bring your team over to Twist! If you’re writing your own invitation email, include a custom invite link so people can sign up by just clicking the link. You can even drop the link right into Slack.
To find your custom invite link, go to the Team tab, click on Invite people, and click on Get invite link:
If you want some inspiration, take a look at our email template for introducing Twist to your team. Remember to include a link to your welcome thread in the email, so people get a chance to say hello and react with an emoji or two 🎉👏.
If you don’t want to write a custom email, you can send invites directly from Twist and they’ll receive a standard invitation email.
Learn to work together without distractions
As people get familiar with Twist, help your team resist the bad habit of over-communication. Specifically, teach your team to only notify the right people when posting and replying to threads.
Notify only the right people
For every thread or reply you post, you can decide whose Inbox you’re going to ring. Simply choose who you’d like to Notify above the comment composer:
Let’s say you want to tell Julia, your team’s designer, that you like her idea. Simply add a comment to the thread and choose to notify only her. She’ll see the thread in her Inbox, but nobody else will be notified. Anyone else in the channel will be able to see your comment whenever they read through the thread.
Keep your Inbox organized
The Inbox is your home base, where you can see every thread in Twist that matters to you. Whenever someone notifies you, it shows up in your Inbox.
Once your team gets used to the Inbox, people will naturally learn to notify only the right people on threads — that’s what keeps everyone’s Inbox organized and reduces distractions.
Get someone’s attention with mentions
Let’s say you need to get the attention of your project manager Antonia because she needs to make a decision. Just mention her by typing “@Antonia” in your comment:
The next time Antonia logs in to check her Inbox, she’ll see your comment at the top of her list with a blue @ icon to the left indicating she’s been mentioned. When she clicks the comment, she’ll immediately jump to where she’s been mentioned in the thread and can take action from there.
Break the real-time addiction and other bad habits
A team that’s used to real-time chat may go through a bit of withdrawal from the always-on culture. Fortunately, Twist also has messages — private one-on-one or group conversations that are useful for quick answers, short back-and-forths, and just generally goofing around.
In fact, some people may prefer using messages instead of threads because it feels similar to real-time Slack. The problem is that by only using messages, they don’t contribute to the growing knowledge base that your team is building as they collaborate in threads.
If a team member falls back to using messages, try sharing a link to a Twist thread that covers the same topic. The same goes if someone keeps switching back to Slack itself: Share a link to a relevant thread where they can continue the conversation in Twist.
Teach your team some Twist best practices
As your team grows into Twist, keep up the momentum by sharing some best practices. Better yet, use them yourself and lead by example.
- Keep track of important conversation by starring threads. Whenever someone posts a comment in a starred thread, your Starred section will be updated.
- Share a conversation with someone (or save it for later) by copying the link to a thread and pasting it wherever you need to: In another thread, a Google Doc, a Todoist task, or anywhere.
- When you want to respond with a little extra something, send a gif.
- Take the time to write a thoughtful response. You can write a draft, take a break and come back later to edit and post it – Twist automatically saves your drafts.
- Do some deep work by snoozing your notifications.
- Truly disconnect by setting time off. People will see that you’re away and your notifications are snoozed (so you can literally snooze).
Bring your apps with you by using Twist integrations
You and your team may have built up useful workflows in Slack that you don’t want to leave behind. That’s not a problem. You can bring them over to Twist in two ways: with integration platforms like Zapier or through native Twist integrations.
Connect any of your apps to Twist using Zapier
Zapier is the bridge that helps you connect Twist to other apps. Whether you have a workflow that uses sales dashboards, documents, calendars, or more, you’ll be able to replicate it in Twist by using Zapier’s 1000+ “Zap” integrations.
Here are a few useful workflows you can try:
- Whenever a Google Calendar event approaches, start a new thread. Review any last minute details with your team.
- Every time you get a new Mailchimp subscriber, add a comment to a thread. Stay on the pulse of your subscriber growth without leaving Twist.
- Whenever someone updates a file in a shared Google Drive folder, post a comment to a thread. Make sure everyone sees every update on a high profile document.
These Zaps are just the tip of the iceberg:
Quickly connect your apps to Twist with native integrations
In addition to Zapier, there’s a growing number of native integrations built right into Twist, from video chat to Giphy. Here are a few you can try:
- Add a thread to Todoist with one click. Learn all about how to use Twist and Todoist together.
- Start a video chat right in a thread or message using /appearin. Simply type “/appearin roomname” and a link to the video chat appears.
- Keep track of a Github project in Twist. Github commits are automatically posted as comments in a Twist thread so everyone stays up to date.
Explore all the available Twist integrations to find your favorites.
Finally, as you review which integrations to install, you might ask yourself which integrations are serving your team well and which are just creating more noise.
“One of my initial hesitations when we left Slack was that we would miss out on the amazing ecosystem of apps that have built integrations into the tool. However, I haven’t missed a single one. What I’ve realized is that I want a single place for communication with the humans in our team.”
-Richard Burton on switching from Twist to Slack
Since we started with Twist, our team has grown calmer, more organized, and more productive. As you begin to migrate your team, we hope you’ll also experience the benefits of deep work and thoughtful communication.