If you were to create a list of essential business technology tools, there’s little doubt that at least one entry would be dedicated to communication.

For busy SMBs in particular, unfettered communication is a must. And Instant Messaging (IM) has emerged as a real-time, money-saving option that can link groups together.

If you want to capitalize on the power of IM apps for your business, be sure to take a look at some of these top options.

1. Slack

Far and away, Slack is one of the most popular messaging apps for businesses. A 2016 report found that its active monthly user base outclassed all similar competitors, and a 2017 article from Forbes noted that the platform has now surpassed 6 million daily users.

SMBs are attracted to Slack due to its wide range of features, ability to handle both public and private communication, and easy integration with various third-party tools.

2. Teams

Teams is a part of Microsoft’s Office 365 push. By most accounts, it’s nearly identical to Slack in its look and feel. The major difference is its integration with Microsoft’s other Office 365 products, which include Word, Excel, Meetings, Notes, OneNote, PowerPoint, and the like.

In fact, if your business is a heavy user of Microsoft productivity software, you might find Teams to be the best instant messaging option. Slack’s integration doesn’t quite measure up to the seamless experience of Teams plus Office 365.

3. Hangouts

For those already familiar with Google’s suite of productivity tools, Hangouts presents itself as an easy-to-learn option.

You’ll have access to fairly standard chat abilities, like the ability to communicate with up to 30 simultaneous team members working remotely. Plus, there’s a robust mobile app to boot.

Hangouts’ true power, though, comes from its ability to integrate seamlessly with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, etc., allowing you to take full advantage of Google’s various cloud services.

4. Skype

Skype is a notable VoIP platform, though it may not have quite the same name recognition it enjoyed a few years ago. Still, it’s a powerful tool for connecting multiple team members in a flash.

With Skype for Business, you can instant message your colleagues from anywhere. Hosted meetings can handle up to 250 people, and new participants can join at any time with just one click. Plus, you have the ability to record your meetings for review at a later time.

5. WhatsApp

Is your team constantly on the go? If you have colleagues scattered across a wide geographical area, you’ll likely find WhatsApp to be the best group messaging option.

The mobile app is easy to navigate. It’s text-style messaging is almost the same as sending an SMS message. On top of that,  it offers access to video calls and the ability to send images, media and assorted documents over the platform.

6. HipChat

HipChat combines an easy chat app with a slew of collaboration tools for teams. In addition to one-on-one instant messaging and the ability to enable group chat rooms, you can use HipChat for file sharing, screen sharing and video conferencing. You can also link up with third-party apps like Facebook, Dropbox and Google Apps, etc.

In review

There are numerous IM apps available for SMBs.

While you’ll find that they are roughly comparable in terms of functionality, it’s a good idea to take a good, hard look at the options before you pick one. Integration is an especially important factor.

After all, the goal is to find the best fit for your organization—both in terms of how you work and the other tools you already use.