group.meI recently co-organized an event called Ignite Detroit, (@ignitedetroit) a public speaking competition that was held at Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel. (@MotorCityCasino) I also spun records at the afterparty, which was at Overdrive Lounge, right upstairs from Sound Board. In between the sessions of speakers, we had musical guests perform 15 minute sets, as well as a DJ that spun records during the “networking and socializing” time before the event began.

Sound Board is an amazing venue, with an even more amazing staff. We worked together to make smooth transitions and keep the evening on schedule. However, trying to coordinate 15 speakers, a DJ, three groups of artists and an afterparty is not an easy task. People were late, they had equipment to load and instrumentals to give to the sound booth. The people I needed to communicate with were spread all over the giant venue. Even if radio headsets were an option, they are not very convenient when you’ve got thousands of watts of sound blaring at the crowd and hundreds of people all around you having conversations.

This was the first event I’ve ever organized that I had a chance to use group texting, via the group.me (@groupme) service, and it revolutionized the way I interacted with the other event organizers and staff. I never had to worry about noise, because whenever a group text came through, I’d just feel the vibration of my phone in my pocket, and get the message right away. The brevity in text messaging was also a welcome change. When it’s showtime, I need the shortest possible instructions and conversations. Groupme saved time and increased our productivity and for that I am forever grateful.

Group texting is pretty simple to use. First, you create a group and they give you a phone number to use for sending and receiving group texts. I always put the number in my phonebook so it’s easy to lookup, and identify where the texts are coming from. Next, you have to add people to the group by adding their name and phone number. If they accept the invitation, each member will receive all the texts that are sent to the group’s number. It works no differently than texting a single person. When incoming texts come, they are labeled so you know who sent it. You can also send pictures and movies to the group, although I think the app works better for this, otherwise you have to rely on your mobile browser to view multimedia messages.

The first time I used groupme was in Austin, Texas, when I was there for SXSW Interactive. At first I was told that I couldn’t use it because I didn’t have the right phone. (Everyone was using an app on their iPhones and Android) I found out later that as long as you have unlimited texting, it works with any phone and doesn’t cost any extra to use it. I didn’t get to use groupme as much as I wanted to in Austin, but I have been using it ever since to connect with people I met all across the country. I even used it to help some friends from Columbus get info about Ignite Detroit, kept in touch with them and made sure they got hooked up with the hotel specials that were available.

The next time I plan to use group texting is for Movement 2011, Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) in Hart Plaza, taking place memorial weekend. I plan to create a group with friends coming in from all over the continent, to coordinate with them and share information about where the good parties are and what’s going on at each stage. No matter where we’re at in the city, what hotel we’re staying in, or where people are driving home to every day, we’ll have a constant line of connection with each other to ensure that no one ever has to miss out on the fun. I’m really looking forward to using this service to enhance my DEMF experience.

As I mentioned before, groupme is available in app form on the iPhone and Android platform, and works through the SMS service on any phone. If you’re not going to use the app, I highly recommend that you have an unlimited texting plan, otherwise your texting fees will skyrocket quickly.

I can think of a lot of situations where this tool will be very useful, and plan to continue to use this tool in the future to increase productivity and enhance coordination with groups of people. Let me know in the comments below what you would use group texting for.

Disclaimer: Groupme did not pay me, or give me any compensation to write this post, although they were loosely affiliated with the Chevy SXSW Road Trip Challenge that I was a part of.

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