At first I was doubtful of the impact of using text messages as a campaign for public health. The only text messages I get that aren’t from family or friends are about the new Ray Ban sale from some unknown number using a lot of emoticons…I still don’t know how they got my number. So to think that this would actually be a good medium for a public health campaign was far-fetched for me. Until I took a look at what is being done by some innovative organizations looking to make social change.
With 64% of American Adults now owning a smartphone of some kind…and is especially high among younger Americans (Mansfield, 2012), a new avenue for captivating an audience has surfaced.
Everywhere you go, you see people on their smartphones: at home, on the bus, at work, in schools. And almost no one leaves home without his or her phone.
Young adults are one group that, in particular, never leaves home without it. Young adults are one certain group that relies heavily on smartphones for online access. (Pew Research Center, 2015) They use their phones for almost everything, but just like everyone else, uses their smartphones for the “big four”: text messaging, voice calls, Internet use, and email. (Pew Research Center, 2015) The rationale for using text messages as a campaign is there; we are a captive audience.
So I told you I took a look to see what was out there. One organization stood out to me in particular that is using text message campaign well: The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE).
ACE’s mission is to “educate young people on the science of climate change and empower them to take action”. (https://acespace.org/) How do they do this you may ask? Well, I found out for myself.
With a simple text to 30644 with the word DOT, I started receiving messages immediately. ACE’s DOT campaign stands for Do One Thing, to take action around climate change. ACE sends students ideas for school projects, details on local events, and information about the ACE Action Fellowship program via text message to keep them engaged.
So I signed up and was asked different questions to tailor the messages to me as an individual. As you can see in the image, I chose the option to #stopwaste.
Later that day, I received a text message, the heart of their campaign.
3 key things that I learned about text message campaign from ACE that were also highlighted in Heather Mansfield’s “A How-To Guide for Nonprofits: Social Media for Social Good”:
Send a mixture of informational and call-to-action text messages.
ACE did this within the first day of signing up. They asked a few questions about me to tailor their messages and then asked me to post a selfie of me doing #stopwaste.
Send text messages that are timely
Mansfield encourages text messages to “be timely, should often communicate a sense of urgency, and, when possible, should include a call to action”. Well nothing says action like taking a selfie of how I stop waste and post it to social media networks. Not only is this a call to action, but also it’s attainable. I’m not sure how I interested I would have been if the first call to action was to pick up litter in my neighborhood. ACE gave me a great first call to action to get under my belt.
Pitch your social networking communities in text messages
Somehow, under 144 characters, ACE asked me to post my selfie to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and tag them by using #DOTselfie and @acespace. They even included a smiley face at the end, how nice! As their target audience is young adults, this text would completely speak their language.
Sending a text message is easy. Crafting a message that engages and empowers individuals to take action takes skill. While I still may be weary of the marketing scams that randomly appear on my phone, I have become a believer in using text message as a campaign for nonprofits to achieve their mission.
Mansfield, H. (2012). A How-To Guide for Nonprofits: Social Media for Social Good. McGraw Hil, New York.
Alliance for Climate Education. https://acespace.org/