To be honest, I was a little skeptical about the use of SMS for health promotional activities until this week. I thought it was a little outdated. Before I started to learn about this strategy, I already had roadblocks forming in my head, mainly 2 things: (1) it is so 1990’s and reminds me of the flip phone ages, and (2) who wants to pay to receive text messages? Not all people have unlimited text plans. This was before I realized the open rate for SMS messages is highest at 90% (Mansfield, 2012), and could just be the one of the most effective ways to deliver health-related campaign messages.
After exploring EZ texting, the mGive lecture, and trying out a few SMS campaigns, I was convinced that SMS has a different touch. Although you use the same device to receive the information, SMS campaigns are a lot different from installing an application or joining a blog community. It feels very personal, as if your mom is texting you to remind you not to skip lunch, or your brother letting you know about his flight details.
One SMS campaign that I explored was the smoking cessation campaign from smokefree.gov. Unlike other campaigns that require you to remember their keywords (eg. “ADKTAG”), with smokefreeTXT, all you have to do is text QUIT to IQUIT (47848). For those of you who have had experience in counseling about smoking cessation, and following people’s progress, you know that even the most effective pill (Chantix) is not as effective in long-term cessation as quitting “cold turkey”. People that quit because of their own willpower usually have some form of social support, and an alternative activity to replace the 5-10 minute “smoking session”. SmokefreeTXT provides both.
The smokefree campaign also provides an infographic on their website that I thought would be very helpful. This is definitely something that you can share to the people in your lives who need support in smoking cessation.