Why would you want group chat tools for small companies?
If a company is small enough surely all communication can be done through meetings or by email.
However, collaboration in any team is difficult, and even in small businesses the use of email, telephone calls and meetings can be difficult and time-consuming.
Therefore, the argument for group chat tools for small companies is the same as for teams in large corporations; it makes you more efficient and more effective.
The great news for small businesses is that most chat tools offer a basic plan that is free for small businesses.
This means that the potential return on your investment is only needed regarding the time taken to choose the right tool.
Here we make it easy for you to choose by presenting some of the best tools on the market and the benefits they offer you.
The Best Communication Tools For Companies
Tool 1: Slack
Slack is an app that is designed to organise messages and allow transparency of communication between team members.
The platform is organised into channels and threads.
You can set up a series of private channels that you invite specified people to view, therefore setting up permissions and access rights that are often helpful when protecting company data.
There is a general channel open to all where there can be social chat or incidental messages. Then, there is the option to set up threads, which allows you to organise conversations and make them easy to search for in the future.
The option to direct message people is present too, and there is the @ symbol used, which leads individuals to look at a specific message.
This @ function also ensures a push notification is sent to the person on their phone if the app is downloaded, or on their desktop.
Slack becomes more than just a chat tool when you take into consideration the integrations with third-party platforms such as Google Docs and Trello.
This then draws Slack into being an active all-around collaboration tool.
Tool 2: Campfire
Campfire is part of the Basecamp project management platform. It is an instant messaging app.
If used within Basecamp the suggestion is that this is a more informal, instant means of chatting, while the message board is used for the posting of more corporate information.
However, there is the option to download the app as a standalone tool on your desktop, tablet or phone.
Within Campfire, you can set up password-protected chat rooms, to which you can invite team members.
Within these chat rooms, you can share files and see live previews of the files. There are also some impressive extras that make Campfire a standout app.
There is the chance to hold conference calls and receive chat transcripts. There are also add-ons to a lot of Mac and Windows software, which can make Campfire the complete collaboration app.
Tool 3: Google Hangouts
It sounds like Google Hangouts ought to be a social app for conversation between friends.
However, the integration of Hangouts with the G Suite productivity applications makes this a business focused platform. You can now collaborate on documents, with permissions set by an administrator.
You can filter chat rooms by people, files, links and keywords. You can also take part in video chats with up to 30 people in Hangout Meets.
With the level of integration with Google docs, this is the app to use if you rely on that service for much of your collaborative document production.
Tool 4: Flowdock
This is not only a chat tool but also a platform for managing your email.
It is a means of organising communication within one application.
There are places within the software where individuals can talk privately, there is group chat, and then there are threads that can be followed.
The team email allows for emails about a project to be shared by everyone, with all able to respond. This makes customer support that much easier.
There are @ mentions which trigger push notifications, as well as hashtags that can help with search functions in the future.
Tool 5: HipChat
Don’t be put off by the name; this is not a social media app.
It’s a well-designed chat application that is excellent for use in company communications.
There is one-to-one instant messaging, chat rooms, file sharing, screen sharing and video conferencing.
In this way, HitChat is the most complete communication tool available, which is particularly easy to use.
There are lots of options with HipChat. You can integrate the app with many of the major third-party apps including Facebook, Dropbox, Google Apps and Salesforce.
A company can also choose to use the web browser app, accessible everywhere, or download the software for an extra charge so that it is available on your server.
This cost and the cost of IT infrastructure might not be ideal for small businesses but proves that this app can scale with your company.
Tool 6: Stride
Stride aims to compete directly with Slack but offers an almost identical service to HipChat.
This is no surprise, as Stride comes from the same developers as HipChat. It gives hosted video and meeting functionality but also includes task assignment and decision tracking – making this more a project management tool that just a chat tool.
The free app offers limited message history and some ability to add guests to video chats.
However, if you want to create a place where a long history of decisions is stored, you are going to have to pay the $3 a month subscription.
Tool 7: Skype
Skype is the well-known internet communication tool, used primarily for video or audio conferencing socially.
However, it is also a useful business tool with a free service for a small number of users. There is also the option for instant message chat and group chat.
The service can be a little volatile, and the file sharing option is for only smaller files – unless you pay for the service.
Tool 8: Microsoft Teams
This is a useful option for those businesses that subscribe to Office 365.
This means that Microsoft Teams is a tool for a chat but also a means of participating in real-time collaboration using the productivity tools that come as part of the suite.
The functions included are chat, meetings, motes, planner, and more. The app looks a lot like Slack, and the threaded conversations are a standard feature for organising the discussions you hold with colleagues.
Tool 9: Do
Do is a little different.
It is a meeting aid, as well as a means of holding online meetings.
The point of this tool is to make meetings purposeful by offering functions for creating agendas, keeping minutes, tracking the progress of action points and setting follow up tasks.
This material then becomes searchable, meaning that it is easy to keep team members accountable to action points allocated to them.
An added bonus is Insight. This analysis tool helps you to work out how much time and money is spent holding meetings, so you can assess if the meetings you hold are value for money.
Tool 10: Yammer
Yammer looks for all the world like Facebook but without being open to the broader world and the potential for social media privacy issues.
It is not necessarily meant for work-based discussion but more a means of team building for groups. However, the is a great place for creating a company intranet that is accessible everywhere.
Users create profiles, set status updates, can offer likes and comments. However, there is also a private message function and group chat. You can upload files, photos and relevant documents.
The basic plan is free, and it can be a versatile communication tool that goes beyond just chat.
However, if you want the advanced support and security, then you need to pay $3 a month subscription.
Emails and meetings are generally a waste of time and money in today’s internet driven world.
Team communication is easier than ever with this massive range of chat tools. The one that you choose depends entirely on the needs you have.
Most tools office instant messaging and threaded group chat that can be searched for future reference. The better apps offer password protected or permission protected rooms where selected team members can share and view sensitive data.
Anything beyond these chat functions is a bonus.
It is helpful if the platform offers video and audio conferencing, so you don’t have to download a separate application, and if these conferencing functions allow for screen sharing.
It is also useful if there is integration with file sharing and collaborative productivity software – such as Google Docs and Office 365.
Finally, the option to set tasks, follow-up and notifications are useful and will mean that the app can go some way to be a project management tool.
Whichever of these ten group chat tools for small businesses you choose they are going to offer higher effectivity and efficiency.
Check some other essential collaboration tools for businesses to make your team even better!