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Send group text messages -- for free

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY  Communicating with employees, customers, vendors, and partners can be challenging. One way to broadcast information is via group messaging, in which you can blast multiple people with information by sending a single text message.

Of course, it can be cumbersome and time-consuming to get all the right people into a messaging group. SendHub makes that a snap. The messaging service offers some innovative tools for keeping in touch with a large group of people. To build a text message group, for example, your contacts can just text a pass-phrase (provided by you) to your SendHub phone number, and they'll be automatically added to your group. Then you can easily send text messages to the entire group from your Web browser or the free iPhone app.

SendHub's basic account is free, and that includes getting a free phone number in your local area code and sending 1,000 messages a month to up to three groups (each group can have up to 50 members). For more messaging, you can upgrade to the $10 month Plus plan, which includes unlimited texting, 10 groups, and a 100-member "power" group. If that's still not enough, there are several other plans that scale all the way up to 2,000 groups and 5,000 members per group.

In addition to the SendHub website, there's an iPhone app you can use to control and manage your account, including changing the group keyword, managing group members, sending text messages, and more.

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