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Comparing Hangouts and Messenger: Which Communication Platform is Right for You?

Facebook Chat and Google Meet are both revolutionizing our means of communication. However, as with any choice in life, finding the platform that suits you best is never a one-size-fits-all affair! In our world today, the ability to reach out to others around the clock and from any corner of the globe is increasingly vital. It’s no wonder that people are always on the lookout for new ways to streamline and enhance how they converse, be it in personal or professional spheres. A simple messaging platform just doesn’t cut it anymore. People want the capability to do everything from video calls to scheduling events, all within a unified medium. Facebook and Google have risen to meet this demand. So, which one should you go for? It’s time for Messenger versus Hangouts!

Internal Correspondence

Messenger

Messenger is installed on the devices of 1.3 billion individuals worldwide. For those who have it, it’s likely a constant companion, facilitating contact with friends and family day in and day out. The frequency of use, combined with its integration with the Facebook social media platform, gives Messenger a reputation for being an informal yet comprehensive means of staying connected. Surprisingly, this informal vibe can be advantageous for companies employing the application for internal communication.

Why it’s Effective

Employees are more inclined to respond to messages on Messenger beyond regular working hours compared to other formats like email. Since they’re already on Messenger chatting with friends, responding to a colleague’s message seems low-effort. You can see if a contact is currently active, and if they’re not, you can gauge how long it’s been since they were. This serves as an incentive for swift responses – nobody wants to come across as impolite by blatantly ignoring a message from a coworker (or worse, their boss).

Furthermore, because people are accustomed to using Messenger for social interactions, the responses tend to be more candid. Sending an email with any concerns might seem more official than shooting off a quick message. People feel at ease with Messenger; it’s a familiar and user-friendly mode of communication.

Messenger is widely embraced by smaller, service-oriented businesses that don’t rely on desk-bound work, such as restaurants and shops. Many of these businesses employ part-time staff who might not check a company email regularly. These workers might need to step in last-minute to help with a busy shift or cover for an absent colleague. Messenger is apt for such scenarios – it’s common to have a phone at hand, and notifications pop up for any messages, allowing for prompt responses.

As businesses increasingly shift towards collaboration across all departments and levels, Messenger’s format perfectly supports this heightened engagement. With just a few clicks, you can initiate a group conversation with up to 250 participants! The group interface is user-friendly, and read receipts enable you to track who has seen your message and who hasn’t. Whether discussing the venue of the office Christmas party or anticipated shipments, it’s an efficient means of keeping everyone informed and giving them a voice.

You even have features to create polls, set up events with RSVP options, and share files and documents. Moreover, in response to high demand, Facebook recently introduced a group admin feature – admins can opt to enable ‘approvals,’ allowing them to individually vet any new members added to the chat. An admin also has the authority to remove individuals from the chat, providing managers with an added level of control if needed.

Who It May Not Suit

As previously mentioned, the casual nature of the platform aligns well with certain organizational structures and corporate cultures. However, depending on the company, this informality might not always be appropriate. Messenger is generally most effective for communicating with individuals you’ve already met, and may not be suitable for larger corporations with hundreds of employees.

You’d need to add your colleagues to your contacts, which some argue blurs the lines between your professional and personal life too much. While you could counter this by creating a work-only Messenger account, it might negate the earlier stated advantages of anecdotal evidence suggesting people respond after hours.

It’s also worth considering that using Messenger could potentially blur the boundaries between individuals of differing levels of authority. A manager might be perceived as ‘too friendly’ or ‘too approachable’ if you can contact them as you would your friends. Effective team leadership might be hindered if not taken seriously.

While the instant messaging component of Messenger is commendable, the video and voice call features are arguably subpar. Calls can involve up to 50 people, but if you’ve experienced a video call on Messenger, you’d know that image quality is often low and prone to pixelation. There’s a lag of roughly half a second on both video and voice calls, which isn’t terrible but isn’t particularly impressive either.

Moreover, dropouts and connectivity issues are not uncommon. Overall, the feature shows potential, but there are wrinkles to be ironed out. Until then, relying on Messenger alone for voice and video calls might not be realistic – companies would likely have to resort to other platforms to fulfill those needs.

Hangouts

Hangouts is already being embraced by numerous businesses, particularly those on a larger scale. This platform is a recognized and respected business tool, beneficial for maintaining a professional tone between colleagues. Additionally, Hangouts isn’t widely used outside of a business context, making it suitable for those who want to keep work and personal life separate.

There are two versions of Hangouts: the free version and the full version. The full version is part of Google Suite, starting at $5. Both free and extended versions offer many of the same features, though the full version naturally enhances many of those aspects. The choice between the two depends on your company’s size and communication requirements – companies without large groups in their video conferences, for instance, may not find the enhanced features worth paying for.

Why it’s Effective

Chats on Hangouts feature a clear, user-friendly interface. You can initiate chats with up to 100 other users, and there are read receipts to indicate who has seen your message and who hasn’t. It’s excellent for fostering collaboration and reaching group decisions. The chat also serves as a convenient option for sending direct messages to one person – it’s swift and straightforward, and many consider it a less formal, less intense alternative to email.

Hangouts can display the status of other users, including the device they’re currently using. This ensures you won’t inadvertently disturb someone in the middle of a call. Of course, if you’d rather keep your activities private, you can disable status sharing.

Arguably, the most impressive aspect of Hangouts is its video conferencing function. This feature makes it indispensable for companies with geographically dispersed teams that need to discuss and deliberate. Often in video conferences, participants talk over each other and high bandwidth is required for calls with multiple people.

Hangouts identifies the active speaker and switches the video feed accordingly. Everyone else shifts to thumbnail size until a new speaker takes the floor. The result is a high-quality feed with minimal dropouts. In today’s business world, if you regularly rely on video conferencing, you can’t afford to compromise on your software. Constant buffering and repetitive statements are guaranteed to frustrate both employees and clients alike. With the free service, you can host a conference with up to 10 people, and with the full package, you can include up to 25. During a meeting, you and your colleagues can even annotate images or a blank canvas in real time.

Another standout feature of Hangouts is its voice calling capabilities. Google Voice is seamlessly integrated into the platform, allowing individuals to use Hangouts instead of their mobiles for calls. The rates for Hangouts are quite reasonable, potentially even more favorable than those of your phone network. Most calls within the US and Canada, as well as calls to other Hangouts users, are free. Calls to certain mobile networks may incur charges, and international call rates vary by country.

Who It May Not Suit

Hangouts might not be the best choice for certain types of businesses. Companies with a high proportion of casual or part-time workers, or where employees aren’t engaged in traditional desk-bound work, might not check Hangouts as frequently as other mediums they use to communicate with friends. This could pose a significant issue, with workers potentially missing out on crucial information, such as shift changes.

Engaging with Customers

Messenger

Numerous companies already employ Messenger for customer service. A staggering 63% of consumers report increased messaging with companies over the past two years, and this trend is projected to continue! Individuals can visit a company’s Facebook page and easily send a message. Since Messenger is a familiar platform for most, and enables a degree of distance in interactions, it’s often considered a lower-effort option compared to reaching out by phone or other means.

Companies often integrate chatbots into their Messenger services. These bots are pre-programmed with answers to frequently asked questions, often enabling near-instantaneous assistance, even outside regular working hours. Chatbots can even initiate a conversation the moment someone visits a company’s Facebook page, proactively engaging the customer and beginning to build rapport.

Messenger can be advantageous for consumer-oriented businesses of all sizes. While not everyone may have the platform, a vast majority do, encompassing virtually every target demographic imaginable. For some smaller companies, particularly those that primarily use social media for marketing, Messenger may be the sole means of contact for customer queries. However, relying solely on Messenger for your customer service needs isn’t ideal – as mentioned earlier, not everyone may have it installed, potentially alienating prospective customers.

If you’re offering a more ‘professional’ service, unless you already have a well-established personal relationship with a client, communicating through Messenger might not be appropriate. Just imagine how uneasy it would feel if you hired a lawyer and they discussed your case with you via Messenger. You’d instantly question their legitimacy. On the other hand, a personal trainer could comfortably handle all client communication through Messenger. It’s inherent in the job title: Personal. If the service you provide is more informal in nature, then Messenger is an excellent fit.

Hangouts

Companies are beginning to leverage Hangouts to interact with consumers and promote their brand. The fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg serves as a prime example of just how successful this approach can be. Furstenberg made history by hosting a shoppable Google Hangout. The clothing featured in the video Hangout could be purchased via links alongside the video. Impressively, the promotional trailer, released only a week prior, garnered 2.3 million views on YouTube. Even more astounding is that the Hangout generated a staggering 150 million social media impressions and 65 million press impressions, driving a massive surge of traffic to the designer’s website, resulting in a spike in sales.

When Hangouts are executed and promoted effectively, they generate high levels of interest, since such engagements are still relatively uncommon. A Hangout offers a fresh, innovative approach, and when executed well, it’s advantageous.

For companies providing consultancy services to mid or large-sized businesses, communicating with clients through Hangouts is beneficial. While this may seem like a superficial point, Hangouts is a widely recognized tool for businesses, and as such, it sets the appropriate tone of professionalism that you’d want to convey.

Logistically, there’s a good chance that the client already has a Google account they can use. Additionally, as mentioned before, the conferencing and calling features on Hangouts are second to none, making it the ideal tool for meetings with clients in distant locations.

On the other hand, businesses providing services to the general public, particularly those whose clients are individuals, should likely avoid using Hangouts for customer communication. Wouldn’t it feel strange if your stylist messaged you on Hangouts to schedule your next appointment? The formality of the platform would seem out of place in such an interaction – it just wouldn’t work.

Companies targeting a mass market typically aren’t using Hangouts for customer service, which isn’t surprising. Hangouts is generally viewed as a business tool, so it wouldn’t align with the ‘coolness’ factor that brands like ASOS, for instance, aim to maintain. Additionally, some demographics, such as students or retirees, might not be familiar with the Hangouts platform. If a company were to introduce Hangouts as the primary means of connecting with customer service, there’s a potential risk of alienating these groups, which is ultimately bad for business.

Privacy

Messenger

It feels like there are new stories emerging every week about companies mishandling their customers’ data, so it’s entirely reasonable that people are concerned about who their personal details are being shared with. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal is still fresh in people’s minds. A staggering 81% of people have little or no trust in Facebook’s ability to properly manage their data! To put this in context, that’s 24% higher than the average consumer distrust of other social platforms like Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Being owned by Facebook means that everything you send in a Messenger chat is subject to scans according to company guidelines. Each time you send a photo, automated systems scan it using photo-matching technology to identify known child exploitation imagery. When you send a link, it’s scanned for malware.

Naturally, these scans can’t be foolproof, which means that even if you’re sending completely innocuous content, there’s a chance it might be flagged for review by a Facebook moderator. Facebook clarifies, however, that this is solely to prevent abusive behavior, and the content of your messages will never be used to influence the advertising you see.

If privacy is a major concern for you, then you can initiate a ‘secret’ conversation. This allows you to begin conversations with messages that are completely encrypted on both ends, ensuring complete privacy – no one, not even Facebook or the government, can read a secret message. So, if you have concerns about privacy or are discussing sensitive information, this is an excellent option for you! You can even set a timer if you’d like, making your message self-destruct after it’s been opened for your chosen duration. This feature makes Facebook Messenger a very viable option for businesses that need an additional layer of data privacy.

Hangouts

While Google’s business model is built around collecting and utilizing consumer data, the company is widely perceived to handle consumer data with greater care compared to Facebook. Google Hangouts is encrypted, offering users a level of security. However, the company has acknowledged that the encryption isn’t end-to-end, which means that conversations can be accessed by the company, particularly in cases like police investigations.

While this might be seen as a drawback, unless you anticipate that Google would have a need to access your records, Hangouts is highly secure and private. Though if you’re in an industry that faces heightened scrutiny, such as gambling, for example, the absence of end-to-end encryption might be cause for concern.

A Recap

Messenger

  • Ideal for businesses with an informal corporate culture
  • Group chats facilitate collaboration
  • May compromise the professionalism of a conversation
  • Blurs the line between personal and work lives
  • Video and voice call features may not be suitable for business
  • Excellent for customer service
  • Chatbots can be integrated to expedite customer service
  • Service-providing businesses, unless there’s an established personal relationship, shouldn’t rely on it to communicate with clients
  • Messages are subject to Facebook scans
  • If privacy is a concern, you can send ‘secret’ messages

Hangouts

  • Established as a business tool, instilling a professional tone in conversations
  • Group chats are excellent for promoting collaboration
  • Status sharing helps avoid awkward calls at inconvenient times
  • May not suit companies with numerous part-time/casual workers
  • Highly effective for video conferencing and voice calling
  • Not recommended for customer service
  • If executed well, Hangout ‘events’ can be used to engage customers
  • Well-suited for service providing companies whose clients are other businesses; inappropriate for businesses catering to individuals
  • Encrypted, but not end-to-end

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