For small businesses and startups, instant messaging services are important for project collaboration and communication, especially when you are working with freelancers, remote employees, traveling clients, or on projects that need immediate attention. Below are the top five free instant messaging applications for small businesses that wont set you back financially.
Google+Hangouts – With the reputable name of Google, it’s easy to see why Hangouts is one of the top apps for instant messaging. Hangouts is an extension of Google Plus. It requires a Google Mail (Gmail) account and works the same with Androids, Apple devices, and computers. Because it’s easy and free to set up a Google+ account from your Gmail, which many of your employees might already use, Hangouts requires virtually no installation. Much like Gtalk, users can see when people are online and when they’ve read your messages. One big difference is that it’s more akin to text messaging, in that the conversation won’t end if you’re offline, the message will be waiting for you when you return, much like a text.
Adium – Adium is an open source instant messaging system for Mac OS X, so if any of your remote employees or clients are PC users, this would not be the best service for your business.This is a multi-protocol chat client, so it conveniently supports Gtalk, AIM,Yahoo Messenger and dozens of other services, allowing you to chat with coworkers, no matter what service they are using. Adium also provides complete address book integration and combined contacts, so each name represents the person instead of individual accounts.
Spark – Spark is designed specifically for business use and works great with small companies. Configured to allow businesses to link it to their servers, Spark enables employees to access it with their company passwords and IDs as they would their email, so it offers a little more security and privacy. It’s also fast and runs smoothly, without interfering with other programs that might be open on your computer.
Jabber – Jabber is another open source application, and while it functions much like Gtalk, it can also be customized based on specific needs and desires. Like Adium, it supports other messaging systems under the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) open source software. Your business’s IT department can also control it so that you won’t have to rely on a third-party source for technical support.
Yahoo Messenger – Yahoo! Messenger was originally created for more casual chatting between online peers. However, Yahoo! is highly adaptable to business environments. It has an easily customizable design, as well as video and voice options, and advanced privacy settings. It incorporates text messaging through your smartphone and also allows you to share large files and photos up to 2GB, in real time.