8 Best Free Instant Messaging Apps for Business

Launching a business can be a challenge for a number of reasons. One of the most common issues is the cash crunch. There is not enough cash and more often than not, founders and their teams have to get innovative to reduce cost and find free or cheap tools, apps, and software to get things done. One app that everything startup needs is a communication app or a messaging app. 

While you can use services WhatsApp Web, Facebook Messenger, Telegram or WeChat, etc to communicate with your. In this article, we’ll focus on Instant Messaging Apps for internal chat only. Also, note that because we are looking at free plans, certain features that are available in premium plans won’t be considered even though they are there in the pros and cons. Let’s begin.

Also Read: 8 Best Free Remote Access Software for Freelancers and Small Business

Instant Messaging Apps for Business

1. Hangouts

Google Hangouts is available in two flavors. One is the free version that is available for all and one is part of GSuite, a business suite consisting of popular Google apps for businesses. Hangouts is available on the web, iOS, and Android. Most Google services don’t have desktop clients. You can group chat with up to 150 people and a video conference with up to 10.

You can attach files from Google Drive and Dropbox easily and filter or search chat based on text, file, and people. For someone reason, Google has released a separate product called Hangouts Meet which is just a video conferencing app with a single difference. Here, you can video chat with up to 30 people.

Hangouts also support bots which you can use to automate certain tasks like schedule meetings, send automated messages, and more. Hangouts is free to use if you are a GSuite user, you pay according to the plan you are subscribed to.

Pros:

  • Freemium
  • Group chat with up to 150
  • Video call up to 10 or 30
  • Cloud storage support
  • Bots support

Cons:

  • No 3rd party app support
  • No native client for desktop
  • Can’t create channels inside groups

Get Hangouts

2. Skype

Microsoft Skype is probably the first commercially successful messaging and VoIP calling app that was widely adopted by the masses. Like Hangouts, Skype has limited support for apps outside of Microsoft’s ecosystem. You can make group video calls with up to 50 people, share files from OneDrive or other Microsoft Office 365 apps, and attach up to 300MB files.

Microsoft recently added support for call recording (audio and video) and call sharing features making it suitable for meetings. Discussing something sensitive? Use Private Conversations to deploy end-to-end encryption. Another nifty feature is voice and text translator. We all have remote workers from different parts of the world.

Pros:

  • Freemium
  • Group chat with up to 600
  • Video call up to 50 people
  • Supports Office 365
  • Cross-platform

Cons:

  • Limited 3rd party app support
  • Can’t create channels in groups

Get Skype

Also Read: 10 Best Project Management Tools for Small Business

3. Workplace

Facebook Workplace is relatively a new product, however, has been seeing some good traction. That said, a lot of people do not like the idea of using Facebook for their business due to privacy and date scandals that are synonymous with the social media giant. The free plan comes with live video streaming, 25MB file attachment limit, video calling for up to 50 people and though there is no set number for group chats, users claim it to be 5000 which is generous.

Workplace, like Hangouts, lacks desktop clients and relies solely of web and mobile apps. There is support for 3rd party apps but not in the free plan.

Pros:

  • Video call up to 50
  • Group chat with up to 5000
  • 25MB file attachment
  • Video streaming

Cons:

  • No 3rd party app support
  • No desktop client
  • Delegating tasks and finding them a chore
  • No support for channels
  • Data privacy history of Facebook

Get Workplace

4. Teams

Microsoft Teams is another instant messaging app for small and large business owners but it is different from Skype, and much more productivity-centered. For example, you can take notes, create channels for different team members, and a planner. It is hard to miss the similarity between Teams and Slack and that is not a bad thing. Slack forever changed the way businesses communicated with each other.

The free plan of Teams is not linked to Office 365 so you can test it out until your startup grows into something more solid. You can work with 300 employees with no limit on messages (search too) and it supports group video calls. Microsoft doesn’t mention how many participants for video calls in the free version though but seeing how generous they were with other features, it should be good.

Pros:

  • Supports channels
  • Notes and planner
  • Cross-platform
  • 10GB shared storage (2GB per user max)
  • Supports MS Office apps
  • 140+ 3rd party apps
  • Group chat with 300 users
  • Screen sharing
  • Supports bots
  • Invite guests

Cons:

  • None

Get Teams

Also Read: 7 Best Accounting Software for Small Business (Free and Paid)

5. Slack

We use Slack at TechWiser

Slack, one of the best free instant messaging apps for small business, forever changed the way internal communication takes place within both small and big companies. A scalable solution that simply works and spawned other apps like Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace and more. 

One thing that Slack does really well is searching for old conversation and files logs (search up to 10K messages in the free plan). This may not look like a big deal, starting off, but we use this feature a lot on TechWiser. Another thing that makes Slack better than its competition is ‘Notifications customization’. You can customize notification preference for each channel as well as mobile and desktop app. 

Slack only allows 10 third-party app integration in the free plan and you cannot search and access more than 10,000 messages. In Microsoft teams, there are no such limits. Slack also restricts group calls and allows only 1-on-1 audio and video calls. Finally, you get 5GB storage in the free plan. Though Slack mentions on their page that there is no user limit, one user found the hard way that you can’t add more than 8000 users. There is no set number though!

Despite these limitations, Slack is still one of the best solutions around and Teams only beats it on paper. And oh, Slack also supports bots.

Pros:

  • 5GB storage
  • Up to 10 third party app integration
  • Supports bots
  • Cross-platform
  • 10,000 message viewable/searchable
  • Supports channels
  • 8000 users per team

Cons:

  • No group audio or video calling
  • Limited messages function

Get Slack

6. Troop Messenger

Troop Messenger is a new player with a robust offering in terms of messaging apps for small business owners. Troop Messenger is making a name for its security standards. Some notable features include fingerprint scanner, server-side-encryption (SSE), 4-digit pin, and activity monitor. This is not to say that Teams, Slack, and others are not taking security seriously, but Troop is just deploying a few additional measures, which is always welcome.

The free plan is pretty limited with group chat limited to 5 members, no video or audio calling, free storage up to 50GB, and unlimited search. Then why did we mentioned Troop Messenger here? This is because in case you want to scale your business and need a pro plan, Troop pricing begins at $1 per user which is lower than everyone else. An important consideration if you are serious about your startup/business.

Pros:

  • 50GB Storage
  • Group chat with 5 members
  • Add up to 50 users
  • Cross-platform
  • Unlimited searchable/viewable messages
  • Invite guests
  • Supports channels
  • Cheapest plans

Cons:

  • No video/audio calling
  • No 3rd party app support yet

Get Troop Messenger

7. Chatwork

Do you work with multiple teams at the same time? For example, there is your internal team that helps you manage your business, and there is an external team like suppliers, labors, and so on. So how do you manage multiple teams within a single interface? Enter Chatwork.

You begin by creating a chat ID and use it to join group chats that are neatly organized in the sidebar. A simple way to keep in touch with everyone across all teams and locations. The free plan supports one-to-one video calling with up to 14 group chats. You can build chatbots using Zapier.

Pros:

  • Manage multiple teams in one UI
  • Supports bots via Zapier
  • 1-on-1 video calls
  • 5GB storage
  • All messages searchable/viewable
  • Cross-platform

Cons:

  • No group calls

Download Chatwork

8. Flock

One of the challenges of running a business is making decisions, and another challenge is to collect feedback from the team on the call you are about to make. Flock was created with that thought in mind. You begin with creating a team and then communicate with them via text, files, and audio/video calls. Finally, there is a polling option that you can use to collect feedback. You then create a to-do list of everything that needs to be done and assign them to employees.

The free version of Flock comes with unlimited users, 10,000 searchable messages (just like in Slack) and ability to make chat bots using Zapier.

Pros:

  • 10GB storage
  • 10,000 searchable/viewable messages
  • Unlimited users
  • All native apps like notes, polls, to-do lists,
  • Up to 20 users & 20 mins group video calls
  • 3rd party app support unlimited
  • Cross-platform

Cons:

  • Limited mins in the group video call

Get Flock

Closing words: Instant Messaging Apps for Business

Every business is unique and depending on your needs, how you run your business, and how large your team is, you can go for a business messaging app. For most users, I would suggest to go for Microsoft Teams, especially if you are part of the Office 365 suite, Slack for pretty much everyone else, and Flock for those who depend on team feedback a lot.

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