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5 of the best instant messaging apps for SMBs

Whether it’s for clients, employees or project collaboration, small business owners need an instant messaging app that’s dependable and affordable. Here are five of the top instant message apps for your business. All are user-friendly and packed with options.

And some are even free.

“New communications tools are on the rise, including instant messaging applications. Forty-three percent of respondents said they used these tools at work. Not surprisingly, instant messaging is widely popular in the tech industry, where 71% percent of employees rely on the application. In international companies, it’s used by 62% of the workforce.” – ReportLinker

Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts is a dependable instant messaging app that’s free to use and doesn’t require installation. For those already using Gmail, there isn’t even any setup. You can launch it straight from your inbox.

It’s akin to text messaging where the messages don’t disappear just because someone isn’t there to answer and you can see if someone is online and if your message has been read.

Slack

Slack offers a paid and free version.

With the paid version, you get unlimited users, up to 10 third-party integrations, 5GB of cloud storage, one-to-one video and voice calls, and up to 10K in message archives. Slack organizes conversations into user-created channels. These make organization super easy once you’re used to it, but there is a bit of a learning curve for some.

Skype for Business

Skype for Business costs a modest monthly fee—or if you subscribe to the Office 365 Business Premium package, then Skype for Business is already included in your cost.

It offers everything you get with Skype such as video, chat and voice. All of it comes with easy navigation and a clean interface.

Spark

Spark was created with small businesses in mind.

For example, one unique feature is it can be linked to the company server. Employees can then access it with the same ID and password they use to access email. That’s gives you an extra layer of security.

It runs smoothly in the background and offers built-in support for group chat, telephony integration, and features like in-line spell check, group chat room bookmarks and tabbed conversations.

HipChat

HipChat is an easy-to-use chat app that also offers collaboration tools. Its features include one-on-one instant messaging, group chat rooms, file sharing, screen sharing and video conferencing. It also integrates with various third-party apps like Facebook, Dropbox, Google Apps and Salesforce.

Basically, it’s likely to work well with your company’s way of communicating, no matter what other tools you use.

“Perhaps the most important is the conversation-structuring of thematic-specific exchanges as they occur in real time—a much more natural and efficient way of communicating compared to the ex post assembling of buried, disparate threads of emails.” – Forbes

Instant messaging is a must

Real-time conversation is a game-changer. In fact, with the influx of millennial workers, having instant messaging is a must. It keeps your small business relevant. Employees, clients and partner businesses will all expect you to have some kind of instant messaging solution.

Whether it’s VoIP or unified communications keeping you connected, we recommend contacting your managed IT services provider for the help picking a solution and getting it set up. With top-notch IT support from day one, you’re a lot more likely to get the best performance out of an IM app.

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