April 11, 2012

GroupMe: Connect with team members in the field

 

At conferences or on the go, use a mobile messaging app

JD LasicaI often get asked for recommendations on which collaboration and productivity tools to deploy in the workplace. Last week, I had the chance to use one in the field.

I gave a bootcamp and participated as a panelist at the Nonprofit Technology Conference on Thursday. In advance of the gathering — which drew 1,800 people to the Union Square Hilton — the Socialbrite team debated which app would be most useful for us to locate each other and easily share our plans on which sessions or social gatherings to attend. (Socialbrite is a social media consultancy for nonprofits that I founded in 2009.)

The first decision came with our agreement that a mobile app was the way to go. While we have a secret Facebook group (well, secret until now!), it’s just easier to check a single app on our mobile devices rather than check our crowded Facebook notifications, and other tools are meant for one-to-one communication.

If your business has three or more staffers who are attending an event, who move around frequently or who need to stay in touch while on the road, you have a few options.

GroupMe: Best of breed for group messaging

Without much debate, we settled on GroupMe, a free group messaging app. I like it because it’s both instant and asyncronous — that is, your teammates will see your updates instantly or when they next check their mobile devices.

Here’s how it works: Call up GroupMe and invite others in your posse to join your private group. Type your update and send it to the group, as you would an SMS message, and they’ll see it in a chat thread. (You also have the option of including a wider circle of colleagues who use GroupMe, but we stuck with the private route.) We used GroupMe as a way to settle on a time and place to meet in person as well as a means of keeping on top of the best sessions activities to attend.

One of GroupMe’s key features is that it’s cross-platform: You don’t miss a beat whether you have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or another kind of smartphone. In addition to the ability to share messages, photos and locations like the other apps, GroupMe also allows old-fashioned conference calls to your group for occasions when voice is easier than tapping out a message. Continue reading