Messaging isn’t messaging. Not when there are so many messaging apps to choose from. WhatsApp, Messenger, good old SMS and Instagram Direct are just a few. So what do you choose and why?

Once upon a time there was SMS. It was a great way to avoid to talking to people on the phone with all the small talk and social graces involved. I know I welcomed this one more than most. I still recall people saying, “Why not just call me? Wouldn’t it take less time than typing out a message on a phone?” I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I just didn’t want to talk to them beyond the one question I had to ask them.

So that was yesterday, how about today?

Choosing the right messaging app comes down to where your customers or audience are.

Facebook Messenger

This is now the world’s biggest messaging system, being just slightly bigger than WhatsApp. It’s the messenger service of choice in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. It’s got a lot of use in the UK as well. Facebook Messenger is pretty much the tool of choice for the English speaking world. It’s got the same features as pretty much every other app on today’s list, but it does tie directly into your Facebook account, so who you can message is tied to who you are connected to on Facebook. You can attempt to message others, but your message needs to be approved for connection by the person at the other end before you can chat with them – and it’s not always obvious if the person isn’t online at the time of you messaging them, so you may never actually connect with them.


This is one super popular with people in non-English speaking countries. Head to Bali, Singapore, India, South America, Africa or most of Europe and this is the chat app they’re using. A lot of this has to do with the reputation that WhatsApp has as being a full end-to-end encrypted messaging app. It’s been especially popular in those countries with more authoritarian regimes and those where trust is low in the privacy of online communications. It’s actually this security and encryption that saw it banned early on in China. It has much the same power as Facebook Messenger but doesn’t require a Facebook account because you can register just using your phone number. In fact, you have to register with your phone number. You can WhatsApp someone as long as they are in your phone contacts, or at least you have their phone number.


It’s the oldie and the goodie. And it’s going through a rejuvenation, albeit it a little too late. RTS is the new format of SMS that allows you to send emojis, video, audio and most of the same stuff you can send via other messaging apps as it’s moving beyond the simple text only format, skipping over the awful MMS standard and going straight to the kind of messaging we are used to from apps. The only problem? It’s about 10 years late to the game, so it’s not really doing so well anywhere. In America it’s been picked up by one of the four national carriers. In Australia, Telstra has picked it up. But no one really seemed to notice.

Instagram Direct

This one doesn’t seem like such an obvious one, but since over 11 million Aussies are on Instagram and it’s the messaging platform of choice for those who are using Clubhouse, Instagram Direct Messaging has been given a bit of a boost thanks to Facebook integrating it into the Inbox features in Business Suite. If you Facebook Business Page is linked to your Instagram Business or Creator profile, you can access your Insta messages on Facebook. There’s not a lot of features in Instagram direct messaging, but it’s nice to have it if that’s where a lot of your marketing happens.

Where is your customer?

Which one are you using? And should you be using another one? My attitude is that you use the messaging app where your customers and audiences are. If they’re on them all, so are you.

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