The emergence of the internet and the rise of instant messaging apps have brought people closer together than ever before. According to a April 2022 report by Statista, there are over 5 billion Active Network users around the world, and over 93% (4.65 billion) of these access the internet with a mobile device.
What is Instant Messaging?
Instant messaging is a type of software which allows users to send messages that can be instantly received via the internet, enabling users to communicate in real time. Depending on the functions each application supports, users can instantly send text, files, voice messages or communicate via video call with individual users or groups.
So does everyone around the world use the same instant messaging app? Of course not. Although Facebook Messenger is popular around the world, it isn’t the preferred app in every region. So if a business is planning to operate in a particular region, it’s a good idea to learn about which instant messaging app is the most popular there, so you can communicate effectively with customers.
Instant Messaging App 1: Facebook Messenger
Messenger is an instant messaging app that Facebook launched in 2011. Users with Facebook accounts can use Messenger.
Facebook Messenger Functions
Facebook Messenger has lots of functions which facilitate instant communication between individuals and groups. This includes voice and video calls, video and program sharing, personalized animations. Messenger also offers business communication functions: Messenger can be used to communicate with Facebook Shop owners, organize meetings, and receive support.
To learn more about Facebook Messenger functions, view our article Complete Overview of Facebook Messenger Functions.
FB Messenger Regions of Use and Configurations
FB Messenger is popular around the world and supports 38 languages, but cannot be used in Mainland China.
FB Messenger can be used on iOS, Android, and Windows phones, and on the Facebook website.
Customers who find a company’s official Facebook page or shop can directly communicate with the merchant using Messenger
Merchants can use Messenger to send customers coupons or other Facebook posts, building a better relationship with customers
Payment sending and receipt functions make business transactions easier
Built-in chat bot provides automated sales
Allows multiple users to log in and access using different configurations
Requires users to register a Facebook account
Messenger has a 24 hour messaging limit for business users
Messenger’s payment functions are currently only available in the United States
Instant Messaging App 2: WhatsApp
Since it launched in 2009, WhatsApp has accumulated over 2 billion users, making it one of the most widely used messaging apps in the world. While Facebook Messenger was already the main messaging tool for Facebook, the company still made the decision to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion USD in 2014. WhatsApp is divided into three messaging apps: WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Business API, which are designed for personal users, small businesses, and mid-to-large businesses, respectively.
WhatsApp Account Functions
There are three different versions of WhatsApp: WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business andWhatsApp Business API. The latter two are instant messaging apps designed specifically for business users. In addition to texts, voice messages, and video chat, WhatsApp also offers business functions like advertising messages, automated responses, quick replies, business verification, and data integration.
WhatsApp Regions of Use and Configurations
WhatsApp is available in 180 countries and regions (unavailable in Mainland China, Turkey, etc.), and supports 60 languages. There are only 25 countries where WhatsApp is not the largest messaging app on the market. Excluding Mainland China, 69% of network users communicate with others using WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is available on: iOS, Android, Windows phones, Blackberry, Nokia, Mac computers, Windows computers, and through the browser version.
WhatsApp Business Pros
Set quick replies and automated replies
Create Business Profiles
View statistical data
WhatsApp Business API Pros
Set quick replies and automated replies
Create Business Profiles
Green Tick business verification
Merchants can proactively send advertising messages to contacts
More message types, including: buttons, charts, etc.
Backup chat history on the cloud
WhatsApp Business Cons
Advertisement messages can only be sent to up to 256 people, and all of the recipients must have already added the merchant to their contacts
WhatsApp Business API Cons
Before sending an advertisement message, you must create a sample message, which must then be officially approved by WhatsApp before it can be used
Instant Messaging App 3: WeChat
WeChat is an instant messaging app launched by Chinese company Tencent in 2011. It currently occupies a larger portion of the market than QQ, and has become the most popular chat app in Mainland China, as well as a social media tool with a wide range of functions.
WeChat offers social media, Internet, living, gaming, and business functions. It is a social media messaging tool. Using the WeChat app, individual WeChat users can send instant messages, make posts on Wechat Moments, follow WeChat public accounts to view and subscribe to a variety of information, or send payments and money gifts to other users. And merchants can use WeChat public accounts and mini programs to connect with customers, directly promoting products and communicating via WeChat.
WeChat Regions of Use and Configuration
WeChat is the international version of the Mainland Chinese app “Wei Xin”. It supports 20 languages and can be used both inside and outside of China. There are over 12.5 billion registered WeChat users around the globe, and 78% of internet users in China use WeChat, making it China’s most popular instant messaging app.
WeChat is available for: iOS, Android, Windows phones, Mac computers, Windows computers, browsers.
Versatile functionality and features
Supports electronic payment: cash gifts, money transfers, payment receipt, utilities payment, and other everyday transactions
Arrange transportation, travel, entertainment, order food, and more
Play games on WeChat
Merchants based in Hong Kong who apply for public accounts can only apply for service accounts
WeChat Pay does not have an automatic currency conversion function, so international WeChat users cannot pay for accommodation, transportation or other services in China
Instant Messaging App 4: LINE
LINE is an instant messaging app launched by Japanese company Z Holdings in 2011. It has also released a series of characters called LINE Friends. Users around the world can purchase related products at local LINE Stores or visit the online LINE Store and purchase stickers and emoji packs to send in messages.
Like WeChat, LINE is a full-scale life platform that offers instant messaging, mobile payment, shop browsing, taxi booking, and information dissemination features. Business users can use a LINE official account to create more opportunities to connect with customers, and the LINE backstage offers a rich range of sales options for merchants to choose from, which can hopefully increase the number of shop visits and conversions.
LINE Regions of Use and Configurations
LINE has 182 million global users who are active each month, and supports 17 languages. It is the preferred instant messaging app in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand.
LINE is available for: iOS, Android, Windows phones, Mac computers, Windows computers, Chrome extension.
Versatile functionality and features
LINE Pay electronic payment function: transfer money, make payments to entities/online partner stores, use iPass to ride public transport
Categorize contacts into groups
LINE Check Chick: A LINE chatbot used for accounting
LINE Helper Elf: Create to-do lists
Built-in translation function
LINE contacts are limited to 5,000
LINE official accounts are charged based on message volumes, so business accounts with lots of followers will have to pay large sums of money to advertise
Instant Messaging App 5: Signal
Signal Foundation is a Non Profit Organization created by WhatsApp founder Brian Acton in 2018, and which launched the instant messaging app Signal. Acton wanted to carry forward the initial spirit of WhatsApp: provide users with a free, zero advertising, and dual-encrypted instant messaging service.
Consistent with its founding mission, Signal only provides basic instant messaging services, enabling private or group chats that support voice messages, photos, videos, GIFs, stickers, files, location sharing, and contact information.
Signal Regions of Use and Configuration
Signal currently has 40 million active users.
Signal is available on: iOS, Android, Mac computers, Windows computers, and Linux computers.
Powerful privacy options: Signal never sells or rents user data in any way or profits from user data
Automatic message deletion available
Instant Messaging App 6：Telegram
Telegram is a tech instant messaging app released by the Durov brothers in 2013. Its powerful message security and privacy functions make it stand out from other instant messaging services, making it become one of the world’s most popular messaging apps along with WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and QQ.
Telegram offers more advanced security and privacy functions than other instant messaging apps. Its “Normal chat” mode is equipped with end-to-end encryption, as does its “Encrypted chat” mode. Third parties including administrators are unable to obtain user messages. In this mode, users can also define whether texts are multimedia texts or self-destructing messages, and the message will delete itself within a given period, without being stored on a user’s device.
Another special Telegram function is that users can create a “Channel”, which is a one-way method of message transmission. Only channel administrators can read messages sent inside the channel. Former US President Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen both set up official Telegram channels. When LINE official accounts announced a new payment method in 2020 that would collect fees from business accounts based on message volume, a number of merchants migrated to Telegram.
Telegram Regions of Use and Configuration
Telegram has 500 million users, and can be used in 155 countries, supporting 19 languages. Telegram is the most popular instant messaging app in Russia, Brazil, and Malaysia.
Telegram is available on: iOS, Android, Windows phones, Mac computers, Windows computers, browsers, Linux computers.
High security and privacy: create encrypted chats, message content won’t be obtained by a third party
Groups can contain 200,000 people at the same time
Retrieve chat history on the cloud
Supports sending large files of up to 2GB, and pictures are not compressed