Instant messaging platforms are more popular than ever. With the rise of instant messaging giants like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, we can only expect more intense communication via texting.
Moreover, instant messaging platforms are taking over business communication as well. Lean and user-friendly messaging solutions have taken over telephone, faxing, and emailing. They enable teams to communicate and collaborate more successfully, even in a hybrid work environment.
What is instant messaging?
Instant messaging or IM is an exchange of real-time or asynchronous messages over an autonomous app or an embedded chat within another app. It is the most popular form of consumer communication in the world, and it's taking over business and workplace communication.
For digital workplaces, instant messaging platforms are essential. They're used for communication and collaboration among employees that work remotely, thus making work easier and faster.
We also find instant messaging platforms under terms such as:
- real time messaging app
- team communication app
- team chat
- asynchronous messaging tool
- communication platform.
Although instant messaging platforms are first and foremost used for asynchronous communication, the best of them feature calling and video conferencing. That way, they truly embody the meaning of a communication platform.
The business instant messaging market was heavily influenced by its consumer-oriented counterpart. By mimicking features of most popular messaging apps, business messaging solutions were able to provide an organic communication experience to their customers. This has numerous benefits for workplace cohesion, culture, and success of the collaboration.
Best instant messaging platforms for business
Instant messaging platforms that are business-oriented usually cater to organizations that want user-friendly communication solutions. There is a wide variety of instant messaging platforms for small, medium, and enterprise businesses. Some of them even have free versions, and are perfect for trying out on a smaller team before implementing it company-wide.
Here are our top five picks of instant messaging platforms that help teams share knowledge, exchange ideas, and align on joint projects.
Yes, this is us, let us have this one! 😉
Rocket.Chat is a rising star among instant messaging platforms for business. Besides our focus on seamless user experience, we are considered to be one of the most secure collaboration tools for businesses due to our security features.
Also, Rocket.Chat has been a remote-first company since its inception, so our features and functionalities come from our own experience as a remote team.
When it comes to instant messaging itself, we support numerous ways of communicating with your colleagues: in teams, discussions, threads, and channels. Since Rocket.Chat is also an open-sourced project, every company can customize the chat according to their own preferences, too!
Here's why Rocket.Chat stands out:
- 150+ integrations for a seamless collaboration experience
- highly customizable chat due to an open-source architecture
- can be self-hosted on-premise for advanced security.
2. MS Teams
MS Teams is probably one of the most popular business instant messaging platforms out there. It is mostly catering to enterprise businesses that use the rest of the Microsoft products - the existing Microsoft users can get MS Teams for free.
Who is MS Teams best for?
- large organizations with an existing MS 365 package in place
- companies with complex employee hierarchy that want to enable cross-functional collaboration
- organizations with standard enterprise security policies.
However, MS Teams is not as flexible as other solutions. It has limited group and channel options, and setting it up is sometimes more complex than it should be. Security-minded organizations in the EU should consider MS Teams alternatives due to recent MS 365 ban in Germany for alleged GDPR non-compliance.
At one moment, Slack was almost synonymous with business instant messaging. This real-time messaging tool was one of the first platforms to revolutionize the way we communicate in the workplace. Its ease of use and flexibility helped it achieve such a status.
Even though Slack is a great instant messaging platform, it doesn’t compare well to its competitors when it comes to data security. Thus, we see more and more Slack competitors increase their market share.
What made Slack the go-to solution for instant messaging at work?
- superb UI/UX
- sending messages directly, create groups, threads, channels, and more
- the ability to join chat-based community groups outside of the organization, usually based on professional interests.
RingCentral is a popular communication tool for contact centers that also provides an instant messaging platform for coworkers. It combines video calling, chat, tasks, file sharing, and event scheduling. Its users praise it for helping them be more productive.
RingCentral also supports third-party integrations, making it easy for teams that already use a different instant messaging platform to adopt it.
What makes RingCentral great for instant messaging?
- great video and audio calling features
- centralized communication with customers, partners, and team members
- numerous integrations for an optimized workflow.
Flock is an instant messaging platform meant to ease collaboration among team members. With features oriented towards increasing productivity, it enables users to stay focused on their tasks: that's why it's one of the most popular remote work chat apps there.
Moreover, third-party integrations allow Flock users to streamline their everyday work and connect all of their favorite apps to this real-time messaging tool.
How Flock makes instant messaging easy:
- integrated project management tools
- useful features like polls, voice messages, and contact syncing
- easy to search and retrieve conversations.
📚 Want more? Here's our detailed list of best work chat apps for businesses.
Most popular consumer-oriented instant messaging platforms
Most business instant messaging platforms draw inspiration from their consumer-oriented counterparts. The most popular instant messaging platforms that we list here have hundreds of millions of users across the globe.
📚 Before you start with the list, check out our article on encrypted messaging apps. As security is becoming a more popular aspect of consumer communication, these solutions are becoming more popular!
WhatsApp is the most used instant messaging platform in the world. Its popularity spans across different markets and it is currently used by more than 2 billion people.
It was the first instant messaging solution to popularize encryption, although some experts are questioning its security since it was acquired by Facebook.
Exchanging instant messages via WhatsApp is easy, and the tool is very user-friendly. However, people should be careful not to exchange business-related information via WhatsApp or other consumer-oriented instant messaging platforms: learn why using WhatsApp for employee communication is not the best idea.
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging platform that grew popularity through its ‘parent product’ – Facebook itself. Nevertheless, it is now used by more than a billion people worldwide. It provides real-time messaging as well as sending over audio, video, and other rich media files.
Since it's a popular chat solution, we added it to our omnichannel portfolio, so you can manage conversations from Messenger within Rocket.Chat.
WeChat is the most popular instant messaging platform in China. However, it is not named “China’s super app” for nothing: it features numerous functionalities like video conferencing, video games, and banking.
📚 You can learn more about WeChat and other consumer-oriented chat apps in this article.
Telegram is an instant messaging solution whose priorities are speed and security. As such, it can often be found on the lists of highly secure instant messaging platforms. It is popular throughout the world, without prevalence in a country or a region.
QQ, also called Tencent QQ, is another Chinese messaging solution that also supports numerous functionalities. For example, it is used for listening to music, shopping, games, microblogging, watching movies, and others.
Why is instant messaging good for business?
In some companies, having an instant messaging solution comes as a given. Others, however, still rely on other methods of communication and lag behind their technologically advanced peers.
There are many benefits to instant messaging platforms for businesses. For one, they embody best practices of team communication. Here is a more detailed breakdown.
Fostering team collaboration
Collaboration is essential for businesses nowadays. According to employees themselves, lack of collaboration is one of the main reasons for workplace failures.
Moreover, any organization that aims to further develop its business must know the true power of team collaboration. Not only is it crucial for innovation, but it ensures that the outcome of projects is of the highest quality.
Instant messaging platforms enable employees to communicate and collaborate effortlessly, thus shortening the time spent on finding crucial information and working on it. For example, research shows that productivity rises by 25% in organizations whose employees are well connected.
Enhancing employee engagement
When communicating is easy, employees’ work is more interconnected. Thus, employees engage each other in their work. Instant messaging platforms sometimes also feature bots that ask them different questions and engage them to give praise or answer random questions, which makes employees more engaged
Connecting remote coworkers
Instant messaging makes it easier for remote coworkers to connect and collaborate. Asynchronous messaging can help them keep on top of their tasks AND feel as a part of the company even though they work in different locations and across different time zones.
📚 It's also useful to create separate chat rooms for private interests and hobbies so remote coworkers can connect on non-work topics on the same company instant messaging tool.
Strengthening company culture
With an instant messaging platform for business, it’s easy to create channels with different topics and let the discussion take place. Research shows that employees who are happy with the quality of their workplace relationships tend to be more attached to the organization.
In other words, instant messaging platforms are a great way to connect your employees on business and non-business topics. This can do wonders for your company culture, which is challenging to maintain in a remote setting, and it can help optimize employee retention.
Giving employees the tools for the future of work
As the generations that will soon comprise a huge majority of the total workforce, you could say that Millennials and Gen Z should have their say about workplace communication. The major trend we see in workplace communication among younger generations is their preference for instant messaging over other communication means.
Instant messaging platforms are seen as a more natural communication hub for Millennials and Gen Z. Check out which other collaboration software could help your company get the best out of collaborative best practices.
Here are some stats to support our claims on benefits of instant messaging:
Surprising instant messaging statistics
- Over three billion people actively use instant messaging apps.
- Engaging via instant messages makes brands more preferrable according to 67% respondents in the EU.
- 49% of workers say that collaboration with colleagues is made better with the use of instant messaging.
- 75% of Millennials would rather exchange instant messages than talk on the phone. Why? 76% prefer texting because it allows them to check messages in their own time. 63% of Millennials consider instant messaging less distracting than phone calls.
- 82% of employees would prefer all their communication centralized within a single app.
- 77% of workers see ease of use as a top priority in an instant messaging app.
- 70% of employees believe that the biggest benefit of instant messaging over email is faster response times.
How to choose the right instant messaging platform for your organization
There are numerous business instant messaging platforms on the market today. It is not always easy to choose the solution best suited for your business. So, what features and functionalities of instant messaging solutions are worth focusing on?
First of all, it would be great if your instant messaging platform could support other communication functionalities besides texting. For example, look for solutions that support video calls and conferencing, too.
Moreover, data protection and security should be a huge factor when acquiring an instant messaging platform for your business. Data privacy is more important to customers than ever, but it is also more vulnerable due to a dispersed workforce.
Furthermore, data breaches are costly in terms of money and time it takes to fix them. Therefore, security is one of the most important aspects of instant messaging platforms and should be a guiding principle in your purchasing decision.
Here are a couple of resources to help you out with choosing the best instant messaging solution:
Secure collaboration with Rocket.Chat
So, what sets Rocket.Chat apart from other real-time instant messaging platforms?
Well, we do everything all the other apps do.. Except exposing your data.
Our security bundle is one of the strongest on the market, and data protection is continuously our #1 priority. Get in touch with our team to check how Rocket.Chat marries collaboration best practices with highest data security standards!
Frequently asked questions about <anything>
What is an instant message?
What is the most popular instant messaging service?
Are instant messages private?
What is the difference between instant messaging and texting?
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- Supports compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and more
- Highly secure and flexible
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