Google Groups: Key Features and Functionalities

Google Groups

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There is a broad range of features that Google Groups provide to its users. You can search for people with similar interests, collaborate on related projects, set up events, and more.

In this article, we will walk you through the main features that Google Groups is good and not-so-good at.

What you can find in the article: 

✔️A straight-to-the-point and concise description of shared inbox on Google Groups

✔️How Google Groups approach events organization and collaboration

✔️How to find public groups based on your interests and hobbies

✔️How you can initiate conversations inside and outside of your organization

✔️How Google Groups integrate with Google Workspace

Google Groups is a highly underrated tool that drastically improves corporate communication, especially for large organizations with more than hundreds of employees. It works great for educational institutions where it could facilitate the socialization process for students. 

Google Groups: Features and Functionality. Learn what you can do with Google Groups

Shared inbox for everyone in your team with Google Groups

One of the main features of Google Groups is its ability to unify your group’s inbox. By enabling the feature your team and you can stay informed and connected on the same platform.

The main advantage of the feature lies in the ability to automatically share messages with your whole organization. This way, everyone in your organization will be able to get access to the content and collaborate with you on the conversation with your client/partner/supplier/etc. At the same time, shared inboxes take away the burden of endless cc’s/bcc’s.

What’s more, is that everyone from outside of your organization will be able to use a single easy point of contact. And for your organization, it is reflected in total transparency, team engagement, the ability to understand the context, and track conversations.

Even though in various use cases the users bring up the opportunity to use the tool for customer support it is still not quite viable because of the confusing behavior of the “Reply to…” buttons. That requires more attention since in most cases the results are unexpected

Potential issues of using Google Groups

  1.  Poor integration with Gmail
    Google Groups is a separate application that requires additional steps and not fully integrated with your Gmail. On top of that, replying to conversations from your inbox is not the best idea since emails you send are not integrated to your Google Groups conversations. They are literally sent as basic emails to your recipients. That is why it’s better to use Google Groups for internal communication.
  2. Confusing messages organization
    One of the main issues users have with Google Groups is the disorganized chat system. When a message is sent to a group, everyone receives it and may start sending their own responses. This can create confusion as multiple people from the same domain may send similar responses without realizing someone else has already addressed the issue. That is why Google Groups is not the best option when it comes to customer support.
  3. Deficient tasks tracking
    Even though, it’s been stated that Google Groups can be used as a tool for assignments tracking it is still not at its perfect shape. The reason for that is its limited functionality — you cannot see who is working on each task. Thus, several employees might be working on the same task.
  4. Unrecognized senders
    Poorly implemented shared inbox doesn’t provide its users with the status of the messages. That’s why one message needs to be forwarded inside the group. That causes confusion and misunderstanding. Eventually you end up missing the information about the sender.  

Organize events by means of Google Groups

You can use Google Groups for sending email announcements, organizing events by means of sharing a calendar, and sending events invitation to your groups. The tool also allows multiple users to edit events. The best part is that invites can be sent automatically to the whole group without any need of including separate emails. You simply type the name of the group, and the invites will be sent to everyone in it.

Collaborate and track assignments with Google Groups

Collaboration is made easy with Google Groups. Its functionality allows you to work with your team members seamlessly through email communication, file sharing, threaded discussions, task assignment, and tracking updates. Keeping track of assignments is a breeze with Google Groups, as it provides a centralized platform for efficient teamwork and organizing project-related information.

Find and join groups based on your interests and backgrounds

Another worthy-a-try feature of Google Groups is finding groups and conversations based on your interests, hobbies, background, you name it. The feature allows you to search for the groups inside and outside of your organization and initiate discussion about a topic.

Even if you don’t have a work-of-school account you can still use your personal account to find global groups. With various adjustments, you can customize the way you appear in these communities. You can change your display name and customize linking to your Gmail profile.

Initiate your own conversations with Google Groups

You initiate conversations in Google Groups simply by posting public messages or taking part in other discussions by replying to them. To start a new conversation, you need to join a group and then you will be able to start a conversation. You can manage who you want to see your message. You can limit the viewers to specific members of the group.

Google Workspace Integration

Usually, to control user access we tend to rely on the Google Workspace Admin console. However, it’s only available to admins only, and depending on the situation you may end up not having this privilege. Thus, in order to perform that without admin privilege, you have to use Google Groups.

This way by means of Google Workspace Integration with Google Groups you can set up AppSheet for your users. In the process of signing in you need to use your Google Account that was used in creating the group. So, to control the authentication process you just need to limit the users to the selected group from the setting of an app. Other possible use cases include the points enlisted in the “Organize events” section.

Key takeaways

Google Groups was initially designed as an email-based communication system for group conversations. However, it later added features to simulate a Shared Inbox. Depending on your needs, Groups may not be suitable for replicating a Shared Inbox or operating as a support desk. Creating a regular mailbox and granting access to other users might offer more functionality.

To put it short, Google Groups is:

  • good for acting as a simple email distribution list;

  • efficient for grouping users for security/access purposes;

  • valuable for listserv-style communication;

  • poor as a shared inbox or support desk.

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