- The service is free
- Quick easy communication to your group
- Friends can control their own membership
- Cool web interface and simple texting commands
- Registration requires you to verify your email and your mobile phone number...a little tedious
- It takes a while before your friends recognize the Pulse phone number so you may want to tell them ahead of time to expect a group text
Communication continues to evolve. Email replaced snail mail. Blogs replaced a lot of traditional editorial content. Twitter became the norm for quick bursts of communication. And Texting ("SMS") appears to be replacing the phone call in many situations. Current statistics show that Texting is unstoppable...with some demographics texting in excess of 114 messages per day!
What is been missing in the Texting world is the concept of Group Texting (or Group SMS). Imagine if you have a tennis group that meets regularly during the week. However, due to rain, you need to cancel the meeting tonight. You can try go through call lists or send everyone a email, but calling is tedious and email is not "real time". Wouldn't it be nice if you can just send the entire group a text message "Tennis is cancelled tonight. Let's play tomorrow night instead".
My wife runs a dinner club consisting of around 12 friends and they are constantly running into scheduling issues and last minute changes. Such was the impetus for us to find an ability to do group texting. "Dinner is 30 minutes late tonight due to soccer practice. Please bring forks".
It seems that a number of services have sprung up to fill this void, and at least one of them is free. The concept is simple. You sign up, and create your group. The group consists of your friends mobile phone numbers. Then, when you want to update your group, you simply text your group with one text message and it is in turn texted to all the group members.
In my search for a group texting service, I came across a few. They ranged from high-end services used for corporate marketing campaigns to services geared specifically for social group texting situations. The ones I explored were:
The following are list of services that offer group texting. Educators are encouraged to review these sites and pick one that best suits their needs. The authors have experience in the free service identified below (Pulse.to) and know that it is currently being used with great success by many educators and students.
- Eztexting dot com
- Texthub dot com
- Tatango dot com
- Pulse.to (http://pulse.to)
Given that my our requirement was purely social, we did not want to enlist a paid service. However, if you do not mind paying a monthly fee, you should look at the above paid services as they seemed to offer a lot of functionality. Since we are not big spenders, we opted to look at the free service called Pulse.to
The Pulse.to homepage has a cool graphic that explains the group texting concept in a easy to understand manner. Sign up is easy ... basically you just create an account and then start inviting your friends.
There are some clever anti-spam techniques employed in this service. Nobody wants mobile spam, so I think these are good. First, when you create your account, you have to verify your mobile number through a code that is texted to your phone. This helps prevent a bot setting up fake texting groups. Also, you can invite your friends to join your group but they must reply with "ok" from their mobile phone to accept the invitation. If they do not, they will not become a member of your group. Its pretty cool actually.
With one account, you can create as many groups (they call them "pulses") as you like. So, in our case we had one for our Dinner group and one for our Tennis group, each had a different set of friends in the group.
When you are ready to text out, you just text the group. eg "@DinnerParty Lets meet at 6:30 tomorrow". The service then texts all the members of the group. When you create the group, you can also specify if the members can text out on the group too, or just receive texts.
The Pulse service also allows you to text out from the website to your group. The website also allows you to manage your groups, inviting new members or deleting members etc. The group members can also control their participation from their phone, and can text "unsubscribe" at any time to remove themselves from the list.
The pulse service is free. This is interesting because I can text 100 people for the cost of 1 text message. Note though that your phone carrier may charge you for sending or receiving text messages depending on your phone plan.
I have found these group texting services to be very useful, as have our friends who we enlisted into the group texts. In fact, many of our friends now use it as a verb saying "Pulse us if there is a schedule change". I think we will continue to use it for sure.