Lately, I’ve found myself giving the “HipChat pitch” over and over again to new UpBuild team memembers. We use a few tools in the office that parallel HipChat’s features, but I’ve been experimenting with a beta run of using HipChat to replace a few of those. I began with my immediate team, then expanded to our account management team, and I’m planning to give the “HipChat pitch” to the paid media team and executive teams. Since I’m writing out the merits of the tool so often, I figured I might as well re-purpose it as a blog post and give HipChat some well-deserved props.
HipChat is a multi-platform messaging tool. Plain and simple. Before we go any further, why don’t I just lay out why I think HipChat is awesome?
- It’s multi-platform and runs on all my devices flawlessly.
- It nails both 1-to-1 messaging and group chats.
- It has awesome emoticons and inline images (+ GIFs!).
- It stores a completely searchable chat history, available on any of your devices.
- For the team at UpBuild, it can potentially replace multiple apps.
Sound good? Well, that’s because it is!
All Devices. All Platforms.
My team works in the office. We work in conferences rooms. We work on couches. We work from home. We work from airplanes, on trains, and in Ubers. We need a messaging tool that can be just as useful on our mobile devices as it is on our desktops. We also need a tool that’s not just a web app that we need to keep in an open browser tab.
HipChat has become the answer for me. I have their Android app installed on my phone. I have their OSX app installed on my desktop. If I need to, I can run the web app from another computer. The Android app even integrates with my Moto 360 smart watch!
Before HipChat, I used Google Chat/Hangouts/Messages/whatever-it’s-called. It was okay, but it was never a great experience. Even though I could get it on my phone, and use it through gmail, and integrate it with a desktop client like Adium, it was just always lacking. It felt “hacky”. Plus, the chat history never reliably made it back anywhere where I could search for it later. Even message sent from within Gmail were never adequately searchable within the Gmail interface.
HipChat, on the other hand, does all of this flawless. The experience and feature richness are the same no matter what platform I’m on, and EVERYTHING I send is archived and searchable from ANY of my devices.
1-to-1 or 1-to-many
If anyone reading this has tried using group chat through Adium…you poor soul. I know that pain.
At my previous company, SwellPath, we’d been using GroupMe for our group chat needs and it worked…okay. We have a lot of fun in our general chat, but it’s mostly for LOLs and GIF-sharing. We’ve never had much luck in the way of having truly productive topical chats.
Before that we used Beluga. Remember that? Thanks for shutting that down, Facebook. <span style=”tone:sarcastic”>Facebook Messenger is so much better anyway.</span>
The reason that HipChat is working (so far) for having on-topic group chats is that it also works so well for 1-to-1 direct chats. We’re not using Gchat for 1-to-1 and GroupMe for 1-to-many and asking people to switch between the two; everything is in one place. You sign into one app, one experience and just go.
I’m connected to my team all day through HipChat and message folks 1-on-1 pretty frequently. If something comes up for a specific client account, I can just spin up a dedicated chat with the relevant team members who are already using HipChat. I also have a dedicated persistent chat for my team, one for myself and the leads on the Account Management team, etc. It’s pretty great.
Emoticons + Inline GIFs and Images
Awwww yea, fun stuff! I need a chat app that has inline images, can play GIFs, and has ridiculous emoticons. I’m not made of stone!
I guess that’s all for this point.
Persistent and Searchable
I already touched on this above, but seriously, this is a huge deal. First, the chats you start in HipChat are persistent meaning that if you start a chat on mobile, the full chat will be waiting for you when you get to your desktop machine. At the end of the day, that chat persists over on your mobile device and you can keep chatting on your train ride out to the suburbs (as I’m wont to do).
Chats are also searchable, so you can dig up your relevant conversations later or jog your memory on things. I come from using Adium for desktop chats and the Google Hangouts app for mobile. The huge issue there was that neither of those communicated with the other and stuff I sent on my phone never made it to my desktop chat history and vice versa.
Yep. This combines a lot for me and for my team. Before HipChat, I was using Adium for desktop chats. Google Hangouts AND IM+ on my phone for mobile chats, GroupMe for desktop and mobile for group chats, and occasionally chat from the Gmail web interface. HipChat replaces ALL of that.
Right now, however, I still using all of those tools plus HipChat; I haven’t converted the entire company to HipChat so I still have to be available for the people who aren’t using it yet. While I could have just tried to get everyone to flip the switch and start using it at the same time, I didn’t want to recommend that everyone start using an app that turned out to suck. Ha!
Okay, I knew HipChat featured a lot of cool integrations when I first started using it, but I didn’t really look into it much. I literally didn’t dig into this aspect until mid-way through writing this blog post, and WOW. I’ve been missing a lot!
HipChat allows for integrations with about 70 awesome tools to bring a ton of your work processes together. A few I plan to take advantage of starting now:
- Go To Meeting: Turn on this integration to allow team members to spin up their own Go To Meeting by typing /g2m!
- Twitter: Configure this integration to post to a chat room when a handle or topic is mentioned on Twitter!
Yeah, that’s only two, but there are a lot more to explore! You can even host HipChat on your own server if need be.
I’m not made of money, so I can’t go blowing it on tools if I don’t know they’re going to be worth it. HipChat is Freemium, so you get a fully-functional tool for free. Some enhanced features (like video chat and screen sharing) are extra ($2 per user per month).
So go and try HipChat. Or don’t. What do I care? They don’t pay me.