When building ideas together as a team, you need reliable ways to talk to each other. Everyone on the team shares their ideas and makes sure everyone is on the same page. This is easier when everyone works in the same office space. But what about communicating remotely or working with freelancers from around the world?
In this post, I’ll talk about 10 of the best tools for managing a chat system, for both one-on-one and group chats. There are a lot of free products on the list and even a few paid ones that can do more than just instant messaging.
But each communication tool is different, and you need to keep reading to find the one that will work best for your needs. Let’s take a look.
Over the past few years, Slack has become the most popular team chat app, especially for businesses where people work from home. It is a lot like IRCQ in that it groups chat into channels and lets you have private channels.
With Slack, you can share files and embed photos or other types of media using any of the web, mobile, or desktop apps. You can also connect Slack to other programs like Google Calendar, Gmail, Jira, Github, Gitlab, and many others.
Slack has a free plan that has a few limited features but should be enough for most small or new businesses. If you want extra features like group calls with screen sharing, unlimited apps, guest accounts, and shared channels, you can pay $8/user/month for the paid version.
Basecamp has been a great choice for Internet-based businesses, as well as many other online projects. The Basecamp service lets managers give out tasks, make group notes, let people download files, and chat as a group. It’s a great way for any number of people to work on a project online.
You divide your work into different projects with Basecamp. Each project has a list of everyone who is involved, every discussion, every document, file, task, important date, etc., that has anything to do with the work at hand.
Zoom is often used to hold video conferences or meetings. It is known to be more reliable than other platforms and makes joining a meeting very easy.
Instead of making a Zoom account or taking a number of steps to join the video conference, the person who was invited can just click the link in the invitation and say their name. They can join through the website or the desktop app.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has helped a lot of people work from home by giving them the tools they need. Many students and teachers use it for homeschooling, and many businesses use it to get in touch with their first-time employees who work from home.
4. Google Meet
Google Meet is a simple way to talk with one person or a group of people. Google Hangouts and other Google chat products can only have up to 25 people in a single chat group. Google Meet, on the other hand, is made for businesses and can have as many people as needed.
It works a lot like Zoom. You can invite people from within your GSuite account or send invitations to people outside of your account with a secret meeting ID. Since it is part of GSuite, there is no free version of Google Meet.
Microsoft Teams is a chat and collaboration platform for all kinds of groups, as the name suggests. As a Microsoft product, Microsoft Teams works with other Microsoft products, such as Office 365.
Microsoft Teams has a free plan that has a lot of great features. The free plan can already have a group chat and tool with unlimited chat messages, guest access, video and audio calls, and access to the web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Rocket.Chat is free team chat software that anyone can use. It’s free and doesn’t have any limits. With dozens of OAuth providers, you can set up audio and video conferencing, guest access, screen and file sharing, two-factor authentication (2FA), end-to-end encryption, and single sign-on (SSO).
Chat gives a pretty detailed guide on how to set up Rocket.Chat on your own servers and in different environments like Ubuntu, RedHat, Docker, AWS, and DigitalOcean.
This software is perfect for people who want full control over their chat app and, most importantly, their data. But if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up your servers, Rocket.Chat also offers cloud hosting for as little as $2 per user per month.
MatterMost is another open-source chat app that is worth looking into. MatterMost has a lot of features that make it a good alternative to Slack for group communication.
You can organize conversations into teams and channels, do a full search of the chat history (which Slack’s free Tier plan doesn’t let you do), share files, images, and links, and use voice over IP (VOIP).
Since it is an open-source application, you have full access to the source code and can make more changes to it. You can change the brand on the login page or white-label mobile apps, for example.
MatterMost has both mobile and desktop apps, so your end users can chat and work together no matter what operating system they use—Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, or iOS.
Chanty is a chat app that uses AI and machine learning to help you catch up on conversations by sending you the most important and relevant messages.
It has a very generous free plan, which makes it a great chat app for small businesses or businesses just starting out. With the free plan, you can have as many public and private conversations as you want, as well as a fully searchable history and built-in task management for up to 10 people in your organization.
Podio is a cool tool that can be used for more than just chat. It is a complete back-end management suite for projects with multiple users. Signing up is free for teams with less than five people, and with this free account, you can try out a lot of their apps. There are to-do lists, calendars, and, of course, chat rooms in these apps.
With direct connect OAuth, it is easy to sign up with Google, Facebook, or even Windows Live. With the free account, you can try out all of their apps to see if they could help your business. Signing up and trying it out is free, so you don’t have much to lose!
Flock is a chat and collaboration app that can help your team talk about important projects and get work done while being more productive and efficient.
You can start a conversation in a channel, send a direct message or an announcement to the whole company, and even take care of a mailing list. The “To-do” app is also built into Flock, so you can keep track of all your tasks in one place. You can even turn a conversation into a To-do, which I think is a pretty cool feature.
Flock has a free plan that lets you host up to 10 public channels and unlimited 1-on-1 and group messages and video calls.