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Texting vs. Messaging: What’s the Difference?

Sep 1, 2022

Is instant messaging the same as texting? Both instant messaging and texting have exploded in popularity over the last decade. As a result, many people now use the terms “text messaging” and “instant messaging” interchangeably, referring to both as “messaging.” However, some key distinctions exist between the two. 

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the differences between instant messaging and texting and when to use each one for your text marketing campaigns.

Is Messaging the Same As Texting?

Long story short, these two messaging options are not the same. On a basic level, texting requires a cellular network, while instant messaging requires only an internet connection. Let’s do a deeper dive into other differences.

What Is Texting?

Did you know businesses can achieve an 11%-30% increase in customer engagement with SMS marketing?

Texting, or text messaging, is sending short electronic messages between two or more mobile devices. Every modern mobile network and device supports SMS messaging. All you need to start texting your customers is their phone number, express written consent and an active cellular network. 

Virtually every cell phone, regardless of whether it’s a smartphone, can send and receive text messages via its native messaging application. More than 5 billion people own mobile devices worldwide, and over half are smartphones. In addition, 88% of people use their phones primarily for texting, and approximately 41 million messages are sent every minute. 

SMS (Short Messaging Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) text messages fall under the texting umbrella. However, SMS and MMS do have a few differences. For example, most SMS messaging platforms have a limit of 160 characters of text per message. In contrast, MMS messages enable you to add images, videos and other types of content to a text message.

SMS and Texting Statistics

What Is Instant Messaging? 

Instant messengers allow you to send real-time messages through a software application. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and iMessage are third-party instant messaging apps that have steadily gained popularity over the years. 

Instant messaging applications are often called “Over the Top” (OTT) applications because they do not require a cellular network connection. However, to send and receive OTT messages, you need a device that connects to the internet, such as a smartphone, laptop, desktop or tablet. 

Some instant messaging applications also allow users to make video and voice calls and share files.

Texting or Messaging: What Should You Use for Your Business? 

Texting and messaging are invaluable tools for businesses that want a fast, easy and cost-effective way to communicate with customers. But which one is better for marketing purposes? Let’s look at them side-by-side:



Instant Messaging

Delivery Method

Texting enables you to send or receive messages using any cell phone, no matter the cellular carrier. Therefore, downloading additional apps is unnecessary.

Instant messaging requires the sender and recipient to use the same application.

However, the average OTT app campaign loses 77% of its users in the first three days after installation.




Texting is native to each mobile device, so you only need a cell phone to send text messages.

You can send instant messages from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Unfortunately, regular cell phones without an internet connection can’t support instant messaging. 

International Capabilities 

With texting, your international carrier plan will determine if you can send messages to people in other countries – and how much it will cost. Cellular companies control the cost and message limits.

Instant messaging allows anyone with an internet connection to communicate with people worldwide.


60% of customers read texts within five minutes of receiving them. This allows you to reach hundreds or even thousands of customers faster than an email or phone call.

Requires an internet connection, so customers without one won’t receive your messages promptly.

You can only send messages one at a time, not in bulk.

Message Type

SMS can accommodate text only.

Enables you to send content that contains text, photos and videos.


Delivery fees may apply to those without unlimited data plans.

Instant messaging is usually free after downloading OTT apps.

Character Limits*

Most texts are limited to 160 characters.

Instant messages have virtually unlimited character counts.

*Break through the 160-character limit! Send longer text messages with Textedly.

Start Texting Customers Today with Textedly

Texting is the perfect solution if you’re looking for an effective way to reach your customers where they are. It’s reliable, inexpensive and is almost guaranteed to reach your recipients – fast.

Are you interested in discovering more ways that texting can benefit your business? Textedly provides simple, affordable SMS solutions that are easy to set up, so you can start texting your customers immediately. 

Get started with Textedly’s free trial (no credit card required) to kickstart your SMS marketing campaign.

Start Texting Your Customers for Free With Textedly