Last week, Shep wrote about the new text message-based group collaboration tool – GroupMe – and he gave some examples on how it could be used for a positive, productive environment.

I tried to emulate that example by using GroupMe to communicate with my pledge brothers at my fraternity. Bad idea. There was a lack of foresight on my part – spamming people during a SEC rivalry football game where alcohol was involved? Whoops. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Keep your group small. We use GroupMe at HackCollege for our writers – there’s less than ten of us. My pledge class? Over twenty. Keeping your signal-to-noise ratio high is a big deal, and the more members you add, the more noise you get.

Make sure the members know what they’re in for. For some, a group texting system can be incredibly important. For others, it’s an opportunity to spam and chat worse than a teenage girl on an instant messaging system. State your purpose for the GroupMe clearly.

Share the other commands with the members. GroupMe has various commands that allow members to join, leave, and mute conversations – these can be beneficial if someone starts to spam or if someone just can’t receive text messages at a time. Make sure your other members know them.

Know when it’s working, and when it’s not. Our fraternity GroupMe lasted about twelve hours. Perhaps it was twelve hours too long, but if it went longer than twelve hours, the group would have grown even more frustrated and I’d have to deal with more than just angry text messages and verbal barbs. Know when to say when, and how to seek alternatives.

GroupMe is a positive tool, and one that can greatly increase productivity, but just make sure you’ve read the situation right.