Overview – Instant Messaging
Instant Messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text messages are exchanged via computers connected over a local area network within an organisation or via the internet (see Helpful Tip). IM differs from email because the messaging happens in real time before the recipient’s eyes.
IM allows employees to control how and when they communicate with their co-workers. It gives them the means to flag their availability or postpone responses to a more convenient time. Many IM services have additional features such as group chatting, conference services (including voice and video), conversation logging and file transfer.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Ascertaining if a specific employee is available for immediate communication.
✓ Enabling quick and prompt exchange of information by eliminating the need to wait for a response to emails or phone calls.
✓ Asking questions and getting clarification instantly.
✓ Coordinating and scheduling tasks.
✓ Coordinating impromptu meetings.
✓ Sharing on-the-spot insights and ideas.
Things to consider:
⇒ Keep IM conversations short and cover only one topic per session.
⇒ Remember that the attention of IM users may be distracted as a result of switching media and multi-tasking.
⇒ Regard IM as a catalyst for other types of communication, such as face-to-face or telephone, once the intended recipient’s presence has been verified.
⇒ Use internet slang or text speak to abbreviate common words or expressions in order to quicken conversations and reduce keystrokes. For example, LOL (Laugh Out Loud) is used to indicate a humorous response.
⇒ Emoticons can be used to express a mood or facial expression in order to clarify how the text should be interpreted. Two common emoticons are the smiley face and despondent face. Wikipedia has a very useful list of common western and eastern emoticons.
Set clear guidelines and accountabilities if using IM over the internet. Ensure
potential organisational risks are minimised, including the following:
– Security threats, such as the potential for viruses, spoofing, etc.
– Non-compliance issues.
– Inappropriate use.
– Accidental or intentional leakage of intellectual property.