Group chat is a secure way of enabling teams to share information and ideas in real-time.
It’s a place where employees can talk and collaborate without distractions, so they can resolve any problems that pop up without interrupting their workflows.
While group chat for consumers has been around for some time, it’s only in recent years that businesses have woken up to their full potential. The business group chat apps market is now seeing significant growth as the demand for unified communication (UC) software booms.
What is a group chat?
The group chat allows employees to send instant messages between multiple participants in an organisation, enabling them to converse privately and securely.
Benefits of group chat in your business
Group chat is a dynamic form of communication that doesn’t slow the flow of information like email or office memos. It can benefit companies in various ways—especially when there’s a need to make rapid decisions.
It’s also an effective way of keeping records of decision-making points within conversations in rapidly changing situations.
Group chat offers the following benefits:
- Reduces the need for face-to-face meetings that can undermine a company’s productivity. The group chat allows participants to resolve points of disagreement that might otherwise have necessitated setting up and managing a formal meeting.
- Group chat enables a more natural flow of information. Traditional forms of communication can suppress a natural back and forth flow of conversation. Group chat encourages participation in conversations in real-time. This can lead to an improved quality of information shared.
- Important information can be shared instantly, which offers big benefits to companies that work in fast-moving industries. Critical knowledge can be quickly disseminated in real-time, emphasising responding and coordinating responses in an agile way.
- Group chat increases camaraderie amongst co-workers. By increasing employee engagement, group chat could help to reduce staff turnover.
What to look for in a group chat app
Not all group chat apps are created equal. Some key features to look out for, however, include:
1. Chat history
Chat histories enable you to look back at past conversations and track down relevant information. This offers the potential to boost efficiencies, and in some cases, may even help you archive electronic communications for legal reasons.
2. Ability to broadcast messages
This means you can send information to select groups and hone messages, so they resonate with them. This is a more efficient way to share important team updates or announcements that are time-sensitive.
3. Share files
Sharing files should be easy using click and drag, making collaboration between team members easy.
4. Ease of navigation
Apps should be a piece of cake to get to grips with, with clear user interfaces and keyboard shortcuts to enable users to move quickly between channels.
5. Search and filtering functionality
Teams should be able to access past conversations for relevant information quickly.
6. Organise conversations
Not every discussion needs to involve the whole team, so choosing a chat app that organises conversations so some members can join or not join should be a priority.
Best group chat apps for teams
When it comes to apps for teams, you’ll want one that delivers on communication, collaboration, and control. Here are some top team group chat apps to pick up the slack where other comms channels fall:
Best all-around apps
1. RingCentral: Helps teams chat, work, and meet securely
RingCentral is a one-stop communication app for businesses with many useful features to boost teamwork, including group chat.
Teams can stay on the same page effortlessly with dedicated threads for projects and topics and can message anyone, anywhere—including customers and partners by inviting them to converse in real-time.
Users can chat one to one via voice or video within multiple shared chat spaces and screen share, so everyone is kept in the loop. All data is archivable and easily retrievable, too, so teams can keep track of notes and files that can be found via keywords or by filters.
With RingCentral’s app, users can assign tasks with task management features and switch to telephone calls from any chat—or flip to a video meeting in just one click.
2. Microsoft Teams: Great for larger organisations
With Microsoft Teams, your account is your organisation or “org”, and users are invited into one or more teams with those teams broken down into channels.
Conversations within channels are threads, making things even more granular and giving the most organisation layers in any team chat app. It sounds a bit confusing, but overall the effect is streamlined and tidy.
Video and audio calls dominate, and users can schedule meetings and set agendas or hop on calls spontaneously. Collaboration features include integration with the Microsoft suite of tools for creating appointments and notes.
- Has a host of useful features and full integration with the Microsoft suite and third-party apps like RingCentral.
- It can be tricky to set up and roll out, especially when installing the free version.
Best Android group chat apps
1. Troop Messenger: For cross-platform usability
The troop is a group chat app that lets users seamlessly share in-house data with third-party apps, making the business process.
Multiple group settings include those around files, images, and document sharing, with the ability to add attachment options—location, file, link, or camera for mobile app. Troop Messenger is available on Android but also has multi-platform and cross-platform functionality.
- Easy to use with seamless UI and UX
- Wide range of features, including one-to-one messaging, group chat, voice-video calls, and screen sharing
- Some users report that Troop could use better integration options.
2. Google Hangouts: Perfect for startups looking for a low-cost, all-in-one messaging solution
Hangouts is a platform that enables users to set up new chats and engage seamlessly in various communications channels, whether one-to-one or in a group scenario. Highlights include HD group conferencing and voice calls, screen sharing, the ability to set calendar events, and custom options for administration.
- It’s free and easy to use
- Lack of security and integration with other apps
Best iOS group chat apps
1. ProofHub: Simple, powerful software for project communications
ProofHub provides the perfect environment for team communication and enables workers to chat both within an office, remotely, or with clients. The app allows one-on-one chats and new group chats to @mention team members to bring them into the loop when necessary.
ProofHub uses project planning software that gives team members the right tools to organise projects. There’s the ability to assign, filter, and view data based on individual priorities. Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and tasks are useful features.
- Easy to set up with no learning curve required
- No per-user fee with simple pricing plans
- It could be more intuitive and easier to navigate between projects.
2. ConnectTeam: Tailored customer support
ConnectTeam is an all-in-one team management solution that incorporates effective tools to help boost workplace productivity. Users can access one-to-one or multiple private chats, along with immediate updates and social media posts. Chats can be created per location or projector by simply browsing the provided business directory for contacts.
There’s also an analytics feature and HR suggestion box. The basic plan allows for up to 200 users, and it’s possible to trial ConnectTeam for free.
- Users cite great personalised support
- Competitively priced and easy to use
- Room for improvement, with some minor bugs reported
3. Chanty: Comes with a host of useful integrations
Chanty lets teams communicate and send direct messages quickly, bringing all aspects of communication together—from chat and video to screen sharing and project management.
The app integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Github, amongst others. Chanty allows users to inject a little fun into the working day with custom emojis and animated gifs.
- The free version includes an unlimited message history
- Uses a task-based approach that boosts productivity
- No group video chats
4. Facebook Messenger: Simple and integratable
Facebook Messenger provides a straightforward way to chat with co-workers. All that’s required to start a messenger room is to drop a link and wait for people to join.
50 people can participate in a room, and there’s no time limit. Also, it’s free to use, and you can switch between viewing modes and share screens. If you’re using the mobile app, you can apply fun filters to lighten the mood.
- Very simple to use. There’s no need to download a specific app or log in to an account.
- Facebook has drawbacks in terms of privacy and transparency
Best group chat desktop app
1. Mattermost: Self-hosted team chat app
Mattermost is an open-source chat app where users can collaborate with others in an ultra-safe environment.
Conversations are organised into channels along with threads—although all posts within threads are also posted on the main channel. Mattermost has search functionality that allows users to filter via the channel, user, or date, while video chat is handled by third parties.
- Free if you download Mattermost’s open-source version and install it on the company server
- Easy to use and scalable
- Only suitable for companies seeking an enterprise-grade security solution
2. GroupMe: Free group messaging for smaller businesses
GroupMe provides a private chat room for a smaller group, enabling greater coordination between group members. With native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows phones, users can send messages on the go. As well as on desktop when at the office—for those Windows or Linux device devotees—or from a tablet anywhere.
GroupMe doesn’t require an app. Users can add anyone from their phone book, and they’ll immediately be able to chat in a group. It’s also possible to group chat directly over SMS.
- Allows for gigantic chat groups
- Includes useful features like mute options
- No ability to search within messages, only in chat titles
Tips for effective group communication
Improving communication requires considered strategy and a degree of effort. Make the most of group chat by using the following tips:
Tailor group chat spaces
Rule out noise and irrelevant conversations. Make sure small groups don’t grow so big they’re out of control. Customise chat to individual teams, whether to a chat room, channel, project, or location.
Make use of your admin toolkit.
Manage your group chat spaces on a granular level. Custom controls could include the ability to create and shut chat rooms, add or remove users, or locker rooms.
Check chat histories
Check back on the chat history. This helps if you’re new to a group, can’t remember something, or are looking for what’s new. A little research via keyword or date can help to find the topic you want.
This is useful if you need to announce something urgently. Plus, the team won’t be left wondering if they need to post a response.
Business chat apps are more than simply tools. And they’re the face of the modern office. And they’re just as valuable for employees sharing a physical space as for getting people together remotely.
Simply typing in a quick message can bring in many helpful replies, enabling staff to solve problems in real-time and continue working without interruption.
Finding the right group chat app can take a little homework, however, and it’s important to create a wishlist of features you’ll require – whether that be file-sharing or chat histories.
It’s also essential to select an app that keeps conversations confidential. Taking the time to identify your ideal app is well worth the effort. You’re sure to be rewarded, both in terms of boosted productivity and employee engagement.
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