With remote work becoming the norm, businesses around the world are adapting quickly, arming employees with tools for both real-time and asynchronous communication. There’s no dearth of great options—WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger, Flock, Discord, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, Twist, and even UberConference all offer a variety of collaboration features for consumers and businesses—yet there are clear frontrunners. In conversations with prospects, some variant of “How does Flock compare to WhatsApp?” or “How is Flock better than Slack?” always pops up. So here’s an almost-unbiased evaluation for all those “WhatsApp vs Slack vs Flock for your small business” debates.
Our contenders—WhatsApp vs Slack vs Flock
WhatsApp needs little introduction. You probably already use it to talk to your friends and family all around the world. Built for personal communication, it’s ease-of-use and attractive price tag have quickly made it an SMB favorite. In a Flock survey of 500 SMB owners and managers across the US, more than half said they use informal messaging tools like WhatsApp and texting for business communication.
Slack and Flock, however, are built from the ground up for business communication. With Channels for cross-functional project discussions, built-in video conferencing and productivity tools, integrations for popular business apps, powerful search, and enterprise-grade security controls, they make workplace collaboration more efficient and effective. Our previous survey showed only a third of SMBs adopting team communication tools, but the world has certainly changed since.
So what sets them apart? Which one’s right for your business? WhatsApp, Slack, or Flock? Read on to find out.
When it comes to selecting the best communication tool for your business, finding the right fit is as important as finding the right features. Design plays a significant role in ease of adoption across your team. For instance, WhatsApp’s simple and elegant design makes it extremely easy to use—there’s almost no learning curve. Recent conversations are front-and-center, and everyone is just a search away. However, for business communication, the Stories panel can be a distraction.
Both Slack and Flock take a similar approach to focusing on active conversations in public and private channels and direct messages. This messaging interface remains fairly consistent across all three services, but this is also where the differences begin. Unlike WhatsApp, Slack and Flock are geared for business communication, so they also pack in productivity tools and third-party integrations within the same interface. This means less time shuffling between apps, but it also takes a little getting used to. All three services are cross-platform and mobile-friendly, so your team communicates on the go as effortlessly as it does in an office.
WhatsApp nails messaging basics incredibly well. All conversations—one-to-one and group chats alike—are listed in one panel along with universal search. The messaging interface, reply and forward options, file sharing, “blue ticks” for read receipts are all intuitive and rather easy to work with.
Slack and Flock do much of the same, but offer more options to keep your conversations organized, particularly for group chats (Channels).
- Public Channels for shared interests that any team member can discover and join
- Private Channels for focused discussions on projects that are invite-only
Support for third-party integrations means team members can add context to conversations—sharing files from Google Drive, piping in Salesforce lead data into a Channel, or even host Zoom meetings. Growing teams will also appreciate Flock features like Smart Channels that automatically add new hires to relevant Channels based on role, function, etc. Slack does the same with User Groups. All three platforms support delivery and read receipts, with a focus on real-time communication. However, Slack and also Flock offer a DND mode that lets team members stay focused when needed.
WhatsApp makes audio/video calling quick and easy, but there’s a caveat—it’s only for mobile devices. That’s perfectly alright if your team is always on the move, but Slack and Flock offer more full-featured cross-platform video conferencing tools for business communication.
- Screen sharing to make conveying your point easier
- Meeting recordings for documentation and review
- Audio conference bridge with phone dial in (perfect for “no data” situations!)
Another plus is support for third-party integrations, which means users can join/host Zoom meetings directly from Slack and Flock.
WhatsApp’s voice messages are a boon when your team is on the move or when you need to share an idea verbatim. Flock, too, offers quick and easy voice notes on mobile devices (desktop users are limited to playback only for now) both in 1-1 chats and channels. Besides making business messaging more human, voice notes can help convey sensitive information with all the emotional nuance of speech over text. Or like this writer does, use voice notes in Flock to record personal to-dos and notes. Slack doesn’t offer voice notes functionality, but there are some third-party options to choose from in their App Directory.
Voice Notes in Flock
WhatsApp, Slack, and Flock all prioritize real-time communication, so notification overload is a real issue no matter the size of your team. WhatsApp keeps it simple with an option to mute specific chats, but Slack and Flock again offer more granular controls. Team members can mute specific Channels, change alert settings for @mentions in each Channel, or even switch DND on to cut down on interruptions and stay focused.
If there’s a recurring theme throughout our WhatsApp vs Slack vs Flock comparison, it’s that WhatsApp is limited when we talk business communication. Case in point, WhatsApp’s universal search makes it easy to find messages or contacts from the same interface, but once your team gets going it can be hard to quickly find the right information.
Businesses need something with more teeth, which is why both Slack and Flock offer advanced filters so you can drill down into search results to find needles in haystacks. Flock even offers a Team Directory, handy when searching for people and Channels in a large team.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption keeps all your business communication safe from prying eyes. In contrast, Slack and Flock offer more customizability to suit varying business security needs. With Slack’s Enterprise Key Management tool, businesses can even control their encryption keys.
Another factor in any WhatsApp vs Slack vs Flock comparison is the ability to securely manage large teams. Unlike WhatsApp, both Slack and Flock support single sign-on (SSO) and offer extensive administration options. This includes granular permissions to:
- Manage team members and bulk add new members
- Manage who can invite new members and guests
- Specify who can create Channels and share files
- Create custom profile fields and user groups
- Invite guests to your team’s workspace (helps compartmentalize access to business data)
WhatsApp is focused on messaging. Slack and Flock though, play well with a wide range of third-party business tools. That means less time spent shuffling between apps, plus the ability to add context to conversations. From piping in customer data from Salesforce or Freshdesk to tracking projects on Asana and even monitoring Twitter mentions, you can do it all right inside Slack or Flock. Check out the Slack Directory and Flock App Store for an extensive list of app/service integrations.
It’s hard to argue with a price tag that reads “free”—WhatsApp scores an immediate win here. All you need is a phone number and a data connection; the rest is, well, free. In contrast, Slack and Flock both offer generous free plans with paid upgrades.
Slack’s free plan
- Unlimited users, messages, channels, and one-to-one video calls
- 5GB file storage for shared files
- Up to 10 service integrations
Flock’s free plan
- Unlimited users, messages, one-to-one video calls, and app integrations
- 10 public channels
- 5GB file storage for shared files
- Built-in productivity apps (shared to-dos, notes, polls, etc.)
Slack’s Standard plan costs $6.67 per user per month and unlocks features such as video conferencing (up to 15 participants) and guest accounts. At $4.50 per user per month, Flock PRO offers better value and unlocks enhanced admin controls, unlimited channels, group video conferencing, guest accounts, and more file storage; plus access to priority support.
What’s the best collaboration tool for your business?
It depends. Sigh. If all your team needs is a quick and easy mobile-first messaging tool, WhatsApp is your friend (even if it’s not a secure choice for your business data).
And if this had been a WhatsApp vs Slack (or WhatsApp vs Flock) comparison, it’d be easy to say pick the latter for business collaboration. For all their differences, Slack and Flock both offer several business collaboration must-haves such as public and private Channels, video conferencing, screen sharing, third-party integrations, single sign-on, and granular admin controls. We’d like to say Flock’s clean UI makes it easier to use, but Slack is no slouch when it comes to good design. From a pricing perspective though, Flock PRO simply offers better value than Slack’s Standard plan.