Group Texts as the Next Social Network

This is a follow-up post from an earlier one about Brian’s presentation at the Future of Text Symposium. In it we predicted more people will use Group texting more ad a Social Network than just a multi-person conversation.

When a group texting works as intended, nothing can be better. You send a message to multiple people, and within seconds or minutes, you have the information you were looking for. In some cases that group text continues and takes on a life of its own.

You may have noticed yourself that some group texts resemble an ad-hoc social network. People use it as a channel to share ideas, pictures, movies etc. with everyone in the thread. It’s faster than trying to send something to the same people using Twitter or Facebook.

As more people think of group texts as more than just multi-person conversations, they’re going to need specific features and functionality to make it more useful. For example here are some of things we’ve noticed make group texting different…

The You Plus Two Problem
One to one conversations can get confusing, but it’s easier to fix them. The potential for a conversation to go sideways and lose control goes up exponentially as you add more people.

Clarification
The casual nature of text means people often type like they talk. Nothing kills the momentum of a conversation when someone misinterprets or doesn’t understand a seemingly simple message.

Group Contexts
Groups tend to be defined by a purpose, not by the members. Most apps define groups by the people only. This becomes a problem when one person wants to leave the group when the topic switches, but wants back in if it switches again. For example, 4 people may have a group text defined by a carpool. Then it becomes the thread for planning an outing. If one person isn’t interested in the outing, they can’t leave if they are still interested in the carpool.

All of these issues may seem abstract to some right now. That’s because people are just now starting to text more. As they get deeper into messaging, they too will start to discover many of the things we’ve been seeing.

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