Where does group messaging fit in?

Okay, the last post was a lame attempt at an April Fools joke.  I don’t think group messaging (aka group texting) will replace email, but it is an interesting development.

In thinking about how to use group messaging I created this diagram.  In order to know where group messaging fit in it was useful to map out other forms of communication including email, blogs, phone, texting and open and closed social networks.  I mapped communication technologies on the X axis as either Private or Public, knowing that the lines can blur quite readily.  On the Y axis I mapped out the intent of the communication accounting for short and long messages as well as timely communication – again, the model isn’t perfect, but I hope it’s roughly right.

You can see group messaging is a form of private messaging best used for providing timely communication.  I see it as similar to phone calls and texting (obviously) due to its interruptive nature, so I view it as Private Timely Communication. 

I expect the use of group messaging will be niche.  The technologies it could replace have a solid purpose and the interruptive nature of the technology makes it unlikely to displace email or Facebook as alternative private communication methods. 

Who might use Group Messaging?

In thinking of how group messaging might best be used, the following comes to mind:

  • Sales territory management – it gives one the ability to marshall resources and share important info
  • Event management – its a great way to communicate in real time to a team managing an event
  • Teens – be it college or high school, teenagers have adopted text messaging as their primary communication so group texting will make sense to them
  • Traveling with a group – let you keep in touch with everyone simply and easily, For example, “I’ll meet you at the Hard Rock at 2:30
  • Loyalty program? – this one is a bit of a stretch for me, but could a brand use a form of group texting to foster a community?

So why might group texting fail?

  1. Ettiquette – it may take time for people to recognize that not everything should be a text, again it’s an interruptive experience for the recipient
  2. Too many cooks – At least with Beluga, anyone can add a new member to the pod.  I don’t know what the right number for a group is, but my sense is that its below 10.  Once you get too many people in the group, it can become too noisy and unfocused and lose its sense of purpose

It will be interesting to see how Facebook incorporates group messaging into its core application, but my guess is that teens will take the greatest advantage of the technology.

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