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Instant messaging is a solution that has picked up in the business world, and for a good reason. While email allows for more passive communication, instant messaging allows for more instantaneous communication, similar to a phone call in its urgency. But are you properly using instant messaging?

Establish a Usage Policy

Just like with other technology solutions, your company should have a policy in place that governs how your employees use it. This means that you must establish clear guidelines for the appropriate use of instant messaging. For example, having a group chat for a department is perfectly fine, but having a group that is exclusively for sharing distractions is a problem that can lead to too much wasted time.

Keep it Professional

You should always use greetings when sending instant messages, similar to the way you would if you were using emails. Using a salutation such as “Hi Name,” rather than opening the conversation with a question can make a world of difference. It would help if you also tried to use similar professional language in your IMs as you would in an email.

Keep it Short, but Keep it Clear.

As we previously mentioned, the big difference between IM and email is that IMs are designed for instantaneous responses and quick conversations rather than long, drawn-out, detailed messages. The best way to use IMs is to use it to your advantage and not use it like you would an email. If you expect someone to respond to a long IM that requires a detailed and analytic response, then it may look like the user is ignoring the message until they can find time to respond to it in the way that you expect.

Still, you’ll want to convey thoughts and ideas clearly, but instant messaging is a great place to encourage questions to prevent communication gaps.

Respect the Status Message

Most instant messaging applications allow the user to set their status. This might be something like Available, Away, In a Meeting, Busy, etc. If the user is anything but available, you should reconsider sending the message until the user is indeed available to take your message. Otherwise, there is a solid chance that the message will slip through the cracks.

Try to Encourage In-Person Communication Too

All of that said, an instant message is not a substitution for a good old face-to-face conversation. Whenever possible, you should make an effort to have in-person conversations with your coworkers and staff. This helps you avoid instances of messages being taken out of context and establishes that you can make time in your busy day to make connections in this way. It’s just good to remind your coworkers and employees that, yes, we are still people, even if half the time our communications are done from the other side of a computer screen.

4 Corner IT can help you implement the best instant messaging solution that suits your company’s needs. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

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