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Each year, the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference serves as a strong indicator of up and coming technologies - in previous years it has paved the way for applications such as Twitter and foursquare. This year while I was in Austin, it felt like the big thing was group messaging applications.
First, let’s review what group messaging allows you to do. Different group messaging apps allow users to send instant messages to multiple people all at once. Through group messaging, you can carry on a conversation with a private group of people using the integration of text messages, photos and locations. The service works on any phone that can handle text messaging. And to make things even simpler, you can download an app on your smartphone, but it's not necessary to. At SXSW, group messaging apps were extremely popular for attracting attention to sessions and coordinating schedules within groups of friends for evening events.
Some of the top group messaging apps include Fast Society, Beluga, Kik and GroupMe. GroupMe, which works on Androids, Blackberrys and iPhones, was also the winner of this year’s SXSW Digital Breakout Award. However, all of these apps are great for messaging a private group of people and sharing information instantly.
But aside from the social aspect, group messaging can also be highly beneficial in the social good context. For example, SXSW attendees used group messaging to rally support around the devastating events that had just occurred in Japan, communicating the latest updates via texts to multiple users at once.
This new technology could also be a viable piece in communication for nonprofit organizations, both small and large. It’s a free, easy way to keep in touch with specific groups of people, and is a form of communication that won’t easily get swept under the chaos of emails, tweets and online messages. You can personalize your own groups and share your location using map functions. And, applications such as GroupMe and Fast Society even allow you to conference call a group with a touch of a button!
It’s easy, simple and convenient! Try it out and let us know what you think!