What is instant messaging?
Instant messaging, also known as IM or IMing, is real-time contact between two or more people using internet-ready devices, including computers, mobile phones and tablets. Employees use IM to collaborate on projects, ask quick queries and stay organised. It has been used to replace in-person and phone call conversations and is often utilised as a secondary form of communication.
As a small business owner, you may wonder whether it is beneficial to use instant messaging for your internal communications or whether it is too complicated to add something new to the mix. But, after all, easy connections are key to allowing your business operations to run smoothly and efficiently, and IMing unlocks the door to speedy messaging. IMing could be the key to helping your business improve its communication flow and keep your team connected.
Instant messaging in business is at an all-time high and is expected to continuously grow. In 2019, the number of worldwide IM accounts total over 7.0 billion. This figure is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 6% over the next four years. It is anticipated to reach over 8.9 billion by the end of 2023.
Another study states that 42% of online customers prefer instant messaging for business matters, compared to 29% of those who prefer email or 16% who opted for social media. It is clear that IMing is a popular method of internal communication and will continue to grow rapidly.
How does instant messenger for business work?
Primarily, IM has been designed so that employees can send and receive short-form messages, in real-time, for group discussions or one-to-one conversations.
For instant messaging to work as intended, all participants need to be online to provide prompt communication among employees. But saying that, the great thing about instant messaging is that you can use or download the application on most internet-ready devices, including mobile phones, tablets and computers. As most of us carry our mobile devices wherever we go, people can receive instant messages, even when those people are away from their computers.
Instant messaging features
In addition to instant messaging, users can also complete a wide range of other tasks within the app, such as voice and video calls. Here we explain some of the most popular actions that employees take when using IM in business:
- Sharing files and links: Sending work files, project drafts and notes. IM apps allow users to share and save files into the app, organising work and projects in one place. You can also send quick links and help guides to those in need without explaining where to find important information online.
- Creating conference calls: Most instant messaging apps have the option to make voice and video calls, as well as schedule meetings.
- Image transfer: Users can instantly send images, voice and video using IM apps.
- Status and availability: An instant messaging app provides the option of selecting your availability so that other users can see if you are online or offline. Some apps allow people to set an away message and provide details about their availability. Using the status updates helps you to update others if you are readily available, on holiday, at work, in a meeting and more. Many apps also indicate in real-time when a user is typing.
- Group chats: Create multiple group messages among employees so that you can have team conversations without picking up the phone or meeting in person. Group chats are perfect for discussions within departments, projects and teams.
Email vs instant messaging
Both email and an instant messaging app achieve the same thing - to send a message to another party over the internet. While both these forms of communication are initially the same, there are reasons to choose one messaging platform over the other for specific projects and tasks.
Having both messaging platforms for your internal communications comes with many benefits. It sets apart the more formal messages from quick notes you want to send your team members. The following explains a bit more clearly the most common reasons users choose to email or IM:
Email: Email provides a certain level of formality that instant messaging tools do not. Email is not usually used for a casual chat or quick questions, so this communication option is most commonly used for scheduling interviews, formal discussions, sending contracts and managing disciplinaries. Organising emails are generally straightforward, so if you are sending important information, it’s usually much easier to track and manage.
Instant messaging: This method of communication is not the most formal way of talking with your coworkers, so it is normally used for quick updates and queries. Instant messaging apps come with more features than email, so it is most effective for multitasking and getting the job done (e.g. having a meeting to corroborate with team members while sharing files over message).
What are the benefits of instant messaging for business?
Instant messaging is an essential tool as it allows business operations to run smoothly and efficiently. As long as your employees are tunnel-visioned on work projects and are not distracted while using IM apps, this form of contact has many benefits to boost company growth. Here we want to highlight the advantages of adding instant messaging to your internal communication strategy.
Helps to connect employees
With 71% of employees working either fully remotely or part-time as a result of the pandemic, it can help facilitate prompt conversations and allows people to share information quickly without the long-winded process of drafting up an email or engaging in a lengthy phone call to gain a quick response to your query. Whether you have people working remotely or under one roof, it helps connect your employees as it provides real-time, instant updates on necessary information.
As well as better connecting your employees, instant messaging encourages a friendly environment among colleagues. Those kinds of connection-building conversations over instant messaging platforms help team members improve work relationships and boost company morale.
Aids in speedy issue resolution
Quick responses to resolve pressing issues, what more could you wish for? During a crisis, you want nothing more than a quick solution to ensure business options keep running smoothly. With IM, you can do just that. Messages are seen, dealt with and resolved much faster when using real-time communication services. Just sending a simple thumbs-up emoji can help resolve issues promptly.
One survey showed that 66 per cent of participants identified quick resolution of simple questions. It shows that by implementing an instant internal communication app into your business, your employees are likely to get the answers they need more quickly.
Convenient, easy to use and prompt, instant messaging in the workplace boosts productivity and increases efficiency. Instant messaging saves time because it is what it is – instant communication. One study showed that 21 per cent of workers who used instant messages had a moderate or significant improvement in productivity. The same study stated that 75 per cent of participants found that there is decreased call and email volume.
Instant messaging not only allows prompt feedback from team members and immediate access to shared files, but it also aids in decreasing opportunities for miscommunication.
Popular instant messaging platforms for business
There are many business instant messaging apps designed for company internal communications. Connect to your inner teams with our top instant messaging apps for coworkers.
3CX: 3CX has its own internal messaging app that allows your teams to discuss customer issues with the team over chat or calls. It has the option to set up video conferencing or group chat for the whole team or company-wide meetings and assign discussions. You can also link your 3CX phone system to your Microsoft Teams to make calls from Teams and use it as a chat system. This app is free with 3CX StartUP with no per-user per-month pricing.
Horizon Collaborate: This instant messaging application is fully integrated with the award-winning Gamma Horizon cloud telephony service. Adding Horizon Collaborate instant messaging will add the benefit of business telephony features alongside collaboration tools such as video conferencing and instant messenger. You can also link your Gamma Horizon phone system to your Microsoft Teams to make calls from Teams and use it as a chat system.
Slack: This popular messaging app holds around 10 million daily users. Slack allows users to create private channels to streamline internal business communications and partner with external companies. According to the latest estimates, 32% of employees named Slack as one of the best tools that improved their productivity.
Microsoft Teams: The most popular messaging app in the business world, Microsoft Teams holds approximately 13 million daily users. With the integration of Microsoft 365, there is no need to leave the app and complete your work tasks within the same software.
Are you ready to add messaging apps to your communications? Contact T2k today
Instant messaging has an exceptionally beneficial impact on a company’s internal communications. It’s safe to say that it makes communications easier and more efficient. We would even go as far as saying it makes for a more successful business.
If you are yet to implement instant messaging into your business communications, then get in contact with T2k today. With communication systems such as 3CX and Gamma Horizon, your business operations will become smoother and more streamlined.
Our expert advisers can help you to find the best instant messaging apps for your business. For a jargon-free conversation about IM and communication systems, contact us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the risks of instant messaging in the workplace?
Although instant messaging has a wide range of outstanding benefits, there are some drawbacks to implementing this method of communication in your business practices. Instant messages can be potentially distracting. Important queries are also less organised with the clutter within the thread, including one-liners or context-less messages.
To avoid these issues, we recommend putting systems in place so that your employees will not become distracted by messages. We also suggest creating different groups for various projects, issues or questions.
Is instant messaging secure?
Because instant messaging is conducted on a public network, it is less secure than other methods of communication. If the conversation or group chat is public to company employees, anyone could jump into the discussion and read the messages. The great news is that there are ways businesses can customise security methods in their instant messaging system. Talk to your provider to find out how you can protect your sensitive data.
What is the difference between instant messaging and texting?
Both texting and instant messaging involve sending messages in real time. However, these communication methods are different.
Text messaging is the exchange of messages using cellular networks which is completed using a mobile device. Cellular companies control the cost and message limits of communicating using text messages.
Instant messaging is conducted over the internet and does not have to be completed using a phone. IM apps often require users to communicate using the same application (for example, you cannot send a message on Whatsapp Business or Google Chat to someone in the Facebook Messenger app).
Why do people prefer instant messaging apps?
Many employees prefer instant messaging because it is quick, efficient and easy to use as most actions are completed in just a few clicks. Many claims that email is less productive as some employees struggle to write formal emails. But with instant messaging, you can speak freely without having to craft a carefully formulated and proofed note.