Instant Messaging for Business: An Ultimate Guide

Live chat allows us to get the needed data much faster, it’s generally a more engaging way to talk that suits the needs of those working in dynamic environments. Popular software allows businesses to connect wherever they are.

Instant Messaging for Business

Business apps for exchanging messages aren’t just handy in avoiding embarrassing situations, but they can be a powerful social tool that drives productivity, boosts internal collaborative spirit, and increases employee morale and engagement.

That’s why we decided to explore the benefits of an instant messenger and other web products and services for business, providing an in-depth overview of why your team should use it to drive success.

Benefits of Instant Messaging in the Workplace

First, let’s talk about the advantages of these platforms for businesses, and why your team should consider using them on a daily basis.

It connects staff members regardless of their location.

The digital era expanded marketing possibilities of sharing content on social media and the web, but it also allowed businesses to attract and hire talent regardless of their location. Instead of limiting themselves to one specific geographical area, companies can now hire the perfect talent that matches their services, needs, and preferences across the globe.

Having solutions that allow teams to communicate easily on screen is extremely important when employees are physically apart. Popular conferencing platforms aim to close the gap physical distance has brought and enable employees to stay connected, engaged, and productive, even when they’re miles apart, via video calls, messenger software, conferencing solutions, and other products.

It promotes collaboration spirit.

It’s easy to know what your coworkers think when you’re in the office. They show it with their tone of voice, gesticulation, and the words they say. However, collaboration becomes a challenge in the remote setting when you're not on a video call.

Professional tools help remote teams gather at one central spot and exchange work-related ideas and thoughts that drive success and marketing innovation. It allows teams to interact both in group and private chats, enabling them to stay informed on the things that matter, such as deadlines or task assignments. This further increases the team’s transparency and allows teammates to get to know each other better.

It supports other forms of communicating.

Instant messaging apps aren’t useful just in cases where employees work remotely. In the office, it can serve as a complementary way of internal communication. For example, imagine you’re in a meeting, and a coworker needs to tell you something urgently. They can just send you a message via your private chat or Flock, and you can look at your convenience. Furthermore, you can use these services as a personal notebook. Most chats allow you to send yourself text and pictures, which is useful in times when you need to write down something quickly and ensure you remember it.

It boosts employee engagement.

It’s a well-known fact that open dialogue creates a path for a more engaged, dedicated, and motivated team since it promotes more informal and friendlier conversations. When they have several ways to communicate, team members can also engage in informal conversations that can help them get to know each other better. When they comprehend their colleague's drive, employees are more likely to collaborate with each other in a more effective way, which can then result in a positive impact on their productivity and engagement.

chat is better than email

Better than email

Email is considered to be the king of corporate communication, and it’s not going to become obsolete anytime soon. Email is reliable, and we trust that our messages will be delivered and formatted to the purpose. However, going through emails to find the information you need can prove to be cumbersome. On the other hand, live chat allows us to get the information we need much faster, it’s generally a more engaging way to exchange information that suits the needs of those working in dynamic environments.

Furthermore, chat apps are easier to scroll through. Most of them offer a search feature, which allows users to effortlessly find the information they need.

Chats also allow people to build relationships more effectively since texts are more dynamic than email and usually more informal than email, which allows people to relax much faster.

Disadvantages of instant messaging

Although it comes with a wide variety of perks, business communication tools come with their pros and cons. Here, we’re going to provide you with a brief overview of their main drawbacks.

It can be a distraction.

Real-time messages can be burdening at times, especially if you don’t set clear boundaries about how you prefer to correspond via chat. People usually expect immediate answers when they send a message, especially if they can see you’re online on the chat. Responding to each and every message, especially if they aren’t work-related, can distract us from our regular work duties, which can, in turn, take a toll on our productivity.

It’s not good for any type of conversation.

Exchanging texts comes in handy when you need fast information and when getting this information doesn’t require a lengthy response. Furthermore, chatting isn’t good if you need to discuss something that involves a larger number of people, given that texts can be misplaced and some members might not see all the relevant information.

Likelihood of misunderstandings.

One possible negative effect of texting is the lack of non-verbal cues. When we exchange messages online, we miss out on an important part of human interaction, which can open room for a different interpretation. When we communicate in person, we can hear the tone of voice, see gestures, and get a better sense of what people we’re communicating with are trying to tell us. Video calls can somewhat make up for these shortcomings. However, instant messaging inevitably puts a barrier between us and requires strong levels of interpersonal skills to get our message across without fearing misunderstandings.

Furthermore, if used excessively between participants, it can lead to the displacement of essential information. If team members use the chat option excessively, they can clog the chat, which makes it harder to find essential information needed for the project to be finished. That said, users should be wary about how they use it, ensuring the essential information always reaches the right person.

Learn more

Dr. Nicholas Emler, a British psychologist, has argued that up to 80% of average conversations consist of gossip. He claims that gossiping is an essential part of our humanity.

Instant messaging etiquette tips.

Now, when we went over the biggest benefits and drawbacks of business communication tools, we should see what rules to follow when communicating via chat.

Start with a short greeting.

A good way to open a conversation over instant chat would be with a simple “hi” or “hello”, following up with a question about whether the user is available for chat or when it’s the best time to contact them. The online signal doesn't necessarily mean they’re ready and available for conversation, and you should always ensure to double-check with them.

Keep it short.

Chatting, although convenient and fast, isn’t good for every type of message. For instance, if you need to write a lengthy message that would take some time to answer, it’s better to write an email instead. Generally, send short and clear texts via the chat platform.

Be careful with abbreviations.

We grew to use a lot of abbreviations with texting. However, unlike chatting on Facebook or Whatsapp, where we usually communicate with peers, using abbreviations can confuse some people, and it might not be appropriate in a business environment. Generally, it’s only acceptable to use abbreviations that are widely known, otherwise, just write a full sentence. 

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Respect working hours.

No, it's not acceptable to contact your employees and coworkers when work is done. Firstly, nothing is on fire. Whatever the issue is, it can surely wait until tomorrow. If there are some burning issues like a hacker attack, your website being down, or your sales being blocked for some reason, generating massive losses, someone should intervene immediately. However, the person in charge of these emergencies should be aware they're on call 24/7 and paid adequately for it. So, unless the house is burning down, there is no need to bother people while they're enjoying their free time. This also goes for their days off!

Don’t SHOUT.

We all get upset at work sometimes. Someone fails to do their job properly, someone else is late, putting us into trouble, etc. It's all normal. What's not normal is venting through angry texts, usually written in caps lock. When people see messages written in big letters, they get upset too! They perceive it as if someone is shouting at them, which is not acceptable in the workplace in any form. Remember, if you've left the caps lock button on accidentally, it's common to apologize to the person you're talking to.

Keep your humor in check.

It’s easy to joke while you’re among your group of friends, as you know them better, you share the same interests, and you’re more likely to be the same age and have the same cultural background. However, humor isn't a universal thing, and it should be practiced with caution, especially if we work in a diverse workplace. That said, tone down your humor to a minimum while chatting at your workplace to prevent misunderstandings and offending someone.

Be wary of how you’re ending the conversation.

We've grown accustomed to communicating in a written form rather than face-to-face. This means we don't get visual cues on how the other person feels or how they react to what we say. We've evolved to read between the lines and emojis. Here's a simple example; can you feel the difference between these three ways to wrap up a conversation?

• Alright!
• Alright 🚀
• Alright.

If you're not the emoji or smiley type, your friends will know how to read your texts properly. However, be mindful of how you message strangers because some might think something's wrong, others that you're angry at them, and others could conclude you're just rude.

Learn more

Chatting, although convenient and fast, isn’t good for every type of message. If you need to write a lengthy message that would take some time to answer, it’s better to write an email instead.

Use your status.

Most people want the information they need instantly. When we see that the person we messaged is online but still fails to respond to our messages promptly, we might feel frustrated. On the other hand, the person on the other end of the screen might become anxious about not responding to the message right away and end up multitasking.

A good way to give yourself some time and room to work, connect, and communicate with your coworkers and clients is to use the statuses, which will notify the people from your organization about your availability and give you room to finish more pressing tasks.

Discuss one thing at a time.

Given the nature of instant communication software, it’s very easy to end up discussing three or four different things via messenger. However, clumping up the conversation with text and files can only lead to confusion and misinterpretation. With that being said, to make online chat work to your advantage, always answer one question at a time and finish each topic before starting another one.

Re-read before responding.

Instant messaging is dynamic and quick, which is probably its biggest benefit but also one of its major liabilities. While chatting, we might be tempted to respond fast without carefully checking what the other user wants from us. To avoid confusion and be more effective, re-read messages, ensuring you understand what others are sharing and give back the right information.

Group messages

Group chats around people that need to know the information you're sharing. Having too many people in the chat, who aren't necessarily affected by the things you want to say, can just cause confusion.

Another good tip would be to use reactions instead of words to messages (when it's appropriate) to decrease the number of irrelevant messages in a chat and allow an undisturbed flow of essential information. So, instead of "ok" or "me too", you can either react with a thumbs up or a plus sign.



Let’s break down the main characteristics of communicating synchronously:

• Usually happens in real-time
• All chat members are engaged simultaneously just as in video calls
• Useful when we need an answer to a question immediately
• Falls short when teams operate in multiple time zones
• Can be damaging to productivity



On the other hand, communicating asynchronously means:

• Not all parties must participate simultaneously
• It works best when immediacy isn’t required
• Everyone can read and respond at their convenience
• There’s more time to craft a message
• It isn’t as effective in times of crisis

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Wrapping it up.

Finally, we can see why instant messaging for business is important. It allows remote businesses and teams to work as if they’re in the office and helps them engage with each other in a quick way, collaborate, and be more productive. However, it isn’t perfect, and it comes with its own set of risks and liabilities we should be wary about.

We tried to provide you with an in-depth guide, the benefits and drawbacks of business communication, but also tips to make it work to your advantage.

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Instant Messaging Cheat Sheet

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