Did you know 6 billion text messages are exchanged daily in the United States alone? SMS is a popular communication channel for many people – it’s quick, easy to use, and very direct.

Text messages are personal in nature; we tend to use them when communicating one-on-one with friends and family. But there are times when you might want to contact more than one person at the same time via SMS – this is especially the case for businesses.

For example, you might need to send a single message to your entire customer base to spread awareness about a new product. Or inform all staff that the offices are closed due to an emergency. Or share joining instructions (arrival times, etc.) with delegates for an event you’re organising.

Two ways to send one message to multiple people simultaneously are group SMS and mass texting.

What is group text messaging?

Group texting is when an SMS message is sent to two or more people. This turns the message into a group chat (also known as a group conversation, community or channel, depending on your choice of group SMS service or texting channel). A group chat is essentially a shared messaging space where multiple recipients can see each other's texts and replies.

It's not a private conversation like a one-to-one text chat – every group member can see who else is in the group. For this reason, group messaging is usually reserved for personal conversations between family, friends, and occasionally co-workers or members of a forum.

Services that offer group texting usually have a certain limit on how many people can be in a group text. This limit can vary depending on which channel you're using. More on this in the next section.

How can I send a group SMS message?

It's easy to send group text messages on both Android and iOS devices using traditional SMS and iMessage.

Sending group text messages on Android

An Android group chat usually uses the Google Messages or Samsung Messages app, depending on your mobile device. It typically works like this:

  1. Open up the Messages app and tap ‘Start Chat'.

  2. Then tap ‘Create a group' and select the contacts you want to add from your phone's address book (or you can add numbers manually).

  3. When you're done, tap ‘Next' and add your group name (optional).

  4. You can then send SMS messages to all recipients in the group. Messages are sent via cellular networks.

If you want all members to see each other's replies, you may have to switch to MMS. Otherwise, you could receive individual responses that are only visible to you as the group creator.

If all your recipients also use Android and you're using the Google Messages app, you can switch on chat features which enable you to send texts over WiFi, see a typing indicator, share photos, etc. This is also known as RCS messaging, which gives you more feature-rich, internet-based chat options instead of basic SMS.

Group text messaging for iOS

The process for setting up an iOS group message is very much the same as Android - you can simply add multiple recipients in the ‘To' field before composing your message. Provided that all recipients are Apple users, your messages will automatically be sent over WiFi or mobile data (as an iMessage rather than SMS).

Using an instant messaging app to send a group text message

Third-party instant messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Viber or WhatsApp, are also frequently used for sending group messages. These offer the same benefits as RCS messaging in that you can attach a range of media content in messages (text, images, audio, video, etc.). You can see when someone is typing, and all members can see each other's responses.

Messaging apps like these work over the internet, not cell networks. So for users to receive messages, they must be connected to WiFi or have mobile data enabled. Also, all users in a group must have the same app installed (you can't carry out group messaging with some recipients on WhatsApp and others on Messenger, for instance.)

There are limits on the size of group chats depending on the app used. With Messenger, you can add up to 250 members in a single group. WhatsApp supports 1024 members, and Telegram 200,000.

Smartphone screen showing messaging apps

So what's mass texting?

Mass texting is also known as bulk SMS messaging, bulk texting, or BCC texting. It's a level up from group texts in that you can send messages to hundreds of thousands of recipients all at once (if you use an SMS provider offering mass group texting service).

It also differs from group texts because messages are sent individually to all recipients - and replies are sent privately in respective chat threads. Mass text messaging ensures anonymity for all recipients, as each person can't see who else receives the message.

Mass SMS group texts are sent over a cellular network using SMS protocol. This means recipients don't need to be connected to the internet to receive the messages.

The best way to send mass texts: Group texting services

A professional SMS group messaging service gives you ample tools to manage an extensive subscriber database and send mass text campaigns in minutes. Messente is one such solution offering a mass texting service for businesses to cover all sorts of use cases.

Here's how Messente's mass group text messaging service works:

  1. First, you need to sign up for an account (free).

  2. Then, upload your existing contacts into Messente's ‘Phonebook' or start collecting subscribers using a sign-up form.

  3. At this point, you can segment your database into different groups if you wish, such as VIP customers, employees, or inactive customers. This means you will essentially still be group texting for business purposes but on a much, much larger scale.

  4. When you're ready, you'll compose a message and select the groups(s) you want to send to (there's virtually no limit on numbers). You can preview your campaign and how much it'll cost to send. Pricing depends on SMS volume and destination.

  5. Finally, you can send your text straight away or schedule it for a later time or date.

When you sign up with Messente, you'll also get an API key for integrating Messente's SMS API into your existing business systems. This opens up many opportunities like SMS automation and workflows, better campaign insights, etc.

Most group text service providers offer personalisation, where you can pull through customer-specific data into your messages, such as the recipient's name or a product they've purchased. Some software also supports rich texts and MMS messages. However, this type of messaging is costlier than SMS because of the amount of data needed for transmission.

With a mass group texting service, you can choose whether to allow recipients to reply or not. Sometimes, you might not need a response, in which case it's best to set up one-way texting within the SMS platform.

Concept of weighing up pros and cons

Let's draw up a clear comparison of mass text vs group SMS and see which has better potential for success in business messaging.

How to choose between group messages and mass texts

There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to send group messages or mass texts. Use this handy table below as a guide.

Table about choosing between group messages and mass texts

Change the caption/alt text for the above table to: Table about choosing between mass text vs group text

Is mass texting right for your business?

This article explains the various ways you can text groups of people. Mass texting could be your best option for sending a group message to thousands of recipients for marketing or transactional purposes.

A group texting platform such as Messente helps you with contact management, one or two-way texting, campaign creation, message scheduling, and more. Get started with a free account.