A Better App for Group Messaging and Conference Calling

Most communication tools are really good at either 1:1 messaging (mobile phones and email) or broad blasts that go out indiscriminately to everyone you know (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook). But what about the in-between world of group messaging, where you make targeted contact with teams or folks on specific projects? I've got just the tool for that.

GroupMe is a group messaging service that lets you stay in contact with teams or specific groups of people. To get started, you can create a free account online or install the app for your iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone 7. Once you're up and running, you can send group messages or start conference calls -- that GroupMe supports both is awesome, and makes it easy to use a single service to carry out virtually all of your group messaging needs.

You can create groups from the contacts already on your phone; you can build groups you'll commonly call out of your functional teams or by pulling in individuals who work on related projects with whom you frequently speak. How you organize your groups is up to you, and once built, they're only one click away.

Once you've created a couple of groups, communicating is a snap; just choose to send a message and pick one or more groups to include. You can also send direct messages without invoking the entire group. If you prefer, you can also loop in Twitter and Facebook.

If you need to get a group of people on the phone, that's just as easy; pick a group and call them -- GroupMe creates a conference call and pings everyone in your group. You don't need to get a conference call number or conference ID. It's all seamless.

GroupMe is a truly elegant service. Messaging, for example, works with both data and text messaging modes, and it can switch between them on the fly -- handy, for example, if you enter an area without data service. GroupMe recognizes that asks if you want to switch to SMS automatically.

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