GroupMe is a text messaging app that allows you to create groups of people in your contacts and create ongoing conversations via text with the people in those groups. And I love it. It has cut down on the continuous string of emails I get when my friends and I are planning events, nights out, trips or just generally sharing our lives. It has almost become a mini-Facebook where we post pictures, share where we are, “heart” each others’ posts and ask for advice. The messages come through like texts, but are compiled in the app, so if you are out of commission for a few hours, you can easily catch up on the conversation documented in chronological order with an avatar representing each person next to their response. It is a beautiful tool. You can create as many groups as you would like–a project team, a department, family, different groups of friends, a travel group, etc. and keep all the conversations organized, accessible and immediate.
And GroupMe keeps getting better. I’ve noticed that I can integrate GroupMe into Foursquare so when I check in on Foursquare, I can now automatically share my location with a GroupMe group. Then there is an “Discover” feature where the app recommends group types and features brand-sponsored group opportunities. For example, featured groups include: Olympics, The Sea Wheeze (a Lululemon sponsored race, and one of my absolute favorite brands!), Oprah Book Club and Vans Warped Tour, among others. And now, they are introducing “Experiences,” a feature that makes it simple to organize and pay for the experience, alleviating the usual hassles that individuals might encounter when trying to organize a group outing.
“Experiences” isn’t available in all markets yet, but promises to hold even more opportunities for brands. Ideas so far have included:
- Branded VIP “experiences.” For example, this could be a brand-sponsored trip in which cyclists get to ride with a celebrity.
- Brand-underwritten “experiences.” Here the brand would foot the costs, and in return gain access to the participants for opinions and other research. The company’s goal would be to unearth consumer insights from highly targeted social groups.
As a research junkie, I am loving the second idea as a new approach for gaining qualitative insights as opposed to traditional focus group research.