The Best Group Text Messaging Tools

For Android and Apple and Desktop

There are dozens of tools you could use to send one-to-many text messages. These next 4 apps stand out because they offer the most features for a freemium price.

If you are a fraternity executive, a sports team organizer, a leader of a small project working group, or the organizer of a ski trip, then definitely consider these next 4 apps for connecting your people with their smartphones, tablets, and desktops!

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Why Group Text Messaging?

Group Text Messaging
Group Text Messaging - It Does Work!. Robberts / Getty

Much more so than email, text message and mobile devices follow people everywhere. 'Bite-sized' communications follow people into classrooms, meetings, on cycling and running trips, and even into the bathroom.  If you want your group of volunteers or athletes or club members to stay in touch, group text messaging will reach them before email will.

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GroupMe group text messaging
GroupMe group text messaging.
  • Cost: free, some advertising
  • Ideal for: families; clubs, fraternities; sports teams; a group of travelers; dinner groups; social fun 
  • Platform:  smartphone/tablet app and web-based interface are both available
  • Pros: the price is perfect; clean interface; very helpful calendar tool with reminders and attendance (great for scheduling sports games and special events); easily handles groups of 2-75 members before tracking membership becomes cumbersome; supports the circulation of photos;
  • Cons:  the left navigation bar can feel cluttered when you start having multiple one-on-one conversations; the buzzing smartphone notifications will become irritating if you don't learn to mute your busy groups; no shared document authoring ability like Slack.

GroupMe is an excellent tool because it is so easy to get started.   If your group is not used to group text messaging, and you need to culturally convince them to use it, then GroupMe is the easiest way to get them messaging each other.

The calendaring, desktop interface, and photo-sharing are all very helpful in GroupMe.  If you don't know how you'll use group text messaging, then start with GroupMe as your first experiment.

Try GroupMe here. More »

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WhatsApp Group Text Messaging
WhatsApp Group Text Messaging.
  • Cost: free for one year, then a dollar per year after that.
  • Ideal for: groups of personal friends; project groups of users who are very tech-savvy; people who don't mind keeping their messages confined to smartphones (i.e. no desktop messaging)
  • Platform: Android and Apple smartphone app, NO desktop
  • Pros: backed by its very wealthy Facebook ownership; very popular; supports photos and videos
  • Cons: only works on smartphones (no desktop interface); while the first year is free, there is a 1 dollar/year fee after that; it is cumbersome to create new text message groups.

WhatsApp is extremely popular across the world, so it can be easier to sell this tool to your group of users. It is the one app on this list, however, that has no desktop interface, so you're confined to typing on your smartphone and tablet.  It is also a tool that does charge a small fee for yearly subscription use.

If you're uncertain what tool to try for group text messaging, give GroupMe a test drive, and then try WhatsApp next.

Try WhatsApp here. More »

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Slack Group Text Messaging App
Slack Group Text Messaging App.
  • Cost: free for basic features. $7/month if you want advanced features.
  • Ideal for: volunteers; smaller project working groups who have an attentive administrator to steward the Google Calendar; groups who need to co-author documents together
  • Platform:  smartphone/tablet app and web-based interface are both available
  • Pros: very clean and sophisticated interface; all content is searchable; direct one-on-one messaging is cleanly managed in the left navigation bar; has file uploading/sharing features so you can circulate documents; you can do shared authoring, like drafting your association's constitution, using the 'Posts' feature; 
  • Cons: no native calendar for scheduling events (you need to add Google Calendar manually, and manage its contents externally); you need to pay a subscription if you want to access the high-end Slack features

Slack is a nice-looking group messaging tool that fits somewhere between 'casual group' and 'serious project team'.

If you don't need to manage critical deadlines and group workflows like tasks/updates/reminders/dates, then Slack is really a good option for its group and one-on-one conversation features.  The shared documenting is definitely helpful for some groups.

Try Slack here. More »

Google Hangouts Group Text Messaging
Google Hangouts Group Text Messaging.
  • Cost: free 
  • Ideal for: families/social/clubs/fraternities who want to do both group text messaging and video calling; can be a useful tool for work teams spread across different cities; sophisticated users who are comfortable switching between Google tools like calendaring and Google Drive.
  • Platform: smartphone/tablet app and web-based interface are both available
  • Pros:  has many features; supports photos; free long distance phone calling between users; free video conferences up to 10 people
  • Cons: if you want to use the calling/video conferencing features, you're confined to Hangouts users (no Skype or Apple Facetime.

Google Hangouts is very powerful and offers both group text messaging and video/phone conferencing in one place.  Subjectively, it doesn't quite have the intimate and warm 'feel' of GroupMe and Slack.  It also requires enough computer-savvy to navigate between Google  Hangouts, Google Drive, and Google Calendaring.

Google Hangouts is a powerful tool for a group of users who are more serious about their messaging and using multiple tools.

Try Google Hangouts here.

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