Sunday, February 5, 2012

GroupMe


GroupMe is an application that lets you communicate with multiple people at once by sending only one message. For those of you that remember chat rooms, it's basically that same idea but on a phone and you can only join the conversation if you're invited. Up until my team at work started using this application I saw absolutely no value in it. There were a couple people at work that had it, but didn't really use it very much.

When my sales team started using it, however, I immediately recognized the value of it. No longer did we have to text message one another individually! We could now reach out to the whole group with one message and have an organized conversation with everyone at once! Now, I don't want to give too much away in the preview... you'll just have to read the full review to find out how it works and what my in-depth thoughts are after the page break.


App Profile:
Type: Group Communication
Platforms: There's an actual GroupMe app for iOS (iPhone), Android, and Blackberry Phones, but you can also use GroupMe from any phone through text messaging and any computer by logging on through the GroupMe website.
Developer: GroupMe Inc.
Reason for Downloading: To be able to set up and communicate with organized groups of people in one, centralized location.

I'll be honest right from the get-go: GroupMe has been a game-changer for me at my place of work. If it weren't for GroupMe doing business would be much slower, it would be harder to keep my team motivated, and there would be a definite lack of communication. We rely on it for anything from sending out end-of-day numbers for each store to simple things like asking the team if someone can switch shifts with them on a certain day. We encourage each other over it, keep people positive, and praise the team as they do well at work.

On the personal side of things, GroupMe can be a way to keep in touch with groups of friends and more easily organize times to hang out as a group. If you've ever tried to get a group of friends together either through normal text messaging, phone calling, or any social network, you know it's nearly impossible and it wastes a lot of time. GroupMe is the answer to all that.

How's it work then? If you have an iPhone, Android phone, or Blackberry, the first step is downloading the app from the App Store, Market, or App World. The next step is creating a sign-in by opening the App and signing in for the first time. You'll be able to either set up a new user name or log in through Facebook (the Facebook login is much easier). Now, invite people to join. This can be done through the settings menu in GroupMe and you can either invite them by sending a text message or an e-mail. One thing to keep in mind before inviting someone through text messaging is that you should inform them you're doing it first - it's more of a forced invite than an "accept or decline" invite when sent through text messaging. What I mean by this is that the person you "invite" into a conversation will automatically start receiving text messages for every message sent in the conversation so if people are busy conversing an the person gets annoyed and freaked out because they have no idea what's happening, they will text "Stop" in the conversation and be unable to receive text messages from GroupMe going forward. Tell people you're inviting them before you just do it!

Now, you can create different groups. You can see in my GroupMe that I'm in two different groups. One is the managers in my area and the other is the store I work in. This will keep different groups separated from each other. I am working on getting my family to create a GroupMe conversation too, to help stay in touch better. Check out the screenshot to the left for an example of my groups.

One advantage to having the application on your phone instead of doing everything through text message is that GroupMe has paired with Emoji to deliver tons of different icons you can use to simply express emotions or even to make funny little characters to keep things interesting. This makes GroupMe an even more unique experience.

Another advantage of using GroupMe regularly is that you can stay in touch even if you leave your phone at home. You can log-in to your account from the GroupMe website on any computer and bring up all your conversations (even what's previously been said) and keep up the communication.

Over-all GroupMe is a great addition to any smartphone. It adds a group communication dynamic that I haven't found anywhere else. It's effective, simple, and best of all, it's free! For more information download the GroupMe app on your smartphone or visit www.groupme.com.

You can connect your Twitter, Foursquare, or Facebook accounts to invite people to chat through any of them
Just some of the emotions Emoji has to offer through GroupMe
Update: I wrote to GroupMe's support and asked about a possible Windows Phone app since their site says they have one. Here's the response:

"Hi there,
Sorry for the confusion.
We're focused right now on totally rewriting the app from the ground up to work better for everyone and be on par with our iPhone and Android apps. It should be done verrrrrry soon. #)
Stay tuned—lots of great things coming."


So there you have it. We'll be looking forward to having this App for Windows Phone verrrrrry soon!


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