Sending text message updates for churches, ministries.

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What is the fastest way to get information and updates out to a large number of people? How about this: 90% of text messages are read within the first 3 minutes. Sure, there is email, Facebook, Twitter, and other tools that should be utilized. But, one cannot ignore the power and opportunities provided by sending text messages.

Here are some additional statistics:

  • 98% of all text messages are opened.
  • 84% of all Facebook news feed stories aren’t viewed
  • 71% of tweets are ignored
  • 88% of all emails go unopened
  • Only 2% of text messages are unopened

There are 234 unique mobile device users in the US

  • There are 161 million Facebook users in US

174 million Americans text daily

  • 91 million Americans open facebook daily

On average, mobile phone users look at their phone 150 times a day

Statistics taken from http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33389/SMS-Marketing-Potential-Users-Check-Their-Phones-150-Times-Per-Day-INFOGRAPHIC.aspx

Convincing? Probably. A church, youth group, home groups and other ministries should utilize the power of a text message.

Now that you are convinced, where do you start? If your intention is to reach a small group of people, just do it from your own cell phone. But, if you want to send text messages to a large group of people, continue reading!

There are numerous ways to set this up, and there are probably cheaper and better ways than I will recommend. Nevertheless, I will recommend 2 ways (one free way, and one that will cost you), and you can decide!

FREE OPTION:

Twitter! Yes, twitter. All you have to do is open an account. Then, you can ask your congregants to sign up, by texting “Follow _your username_” to 40404. For example, if you’d like to receive my tweets via text messages, just text “follow russellkorets” to 40404, and you are set up! Every time I send a tweet, you will receive a text message. This will not cost you nor the person receiving text messages anything. Standard text message rates apply to the person receiving a text message.

Downside of using twitter:

  • You cannot “add” phone numbers automatically. People can only be subscribed if they subscribe themselves.
  • You cannot create different groups within your account. For example, if you want to send the text message to “men” only to remind them about a “Men’s breakfast,” twitter does not allow you to divide your subscribers.  You’ll need to set up a separate account, and ask just the men to follow the newly set up username.
  • Once a person subscribes to your posts, they will start receiving other text messages from Twitter, like suggestions to follow Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, or some other celebrity.  Of course, users will be given the option to unsubscribe from Twitter’s suggestive tweets and a seasoned mobile user will not be caught off guard.  But your regular “mom and dad” can become very suspicious, and might choose to unsubscribe from ALL twitter tweets, including yours!

PAID OPTION

We utilize www.txt180.com. The cost of using their services depends on how many text messages you will be sending each month. But it starts with $9.95 for 500 text messages a month, if you sign up for a year. There are many other companies that offer similar services; Txt180 is the cheapest we found, when we were initially setting our account up.

Benefits of using their services:

  • Text message updates to your subscribers can be sent from anywhere there is internet access (laptop, ipad, phone).
  • Your congregants or intended audience can subscribe easily, but texting your “key word” to a 5 digit code. For example, to subscribe to our church’s (City On A Hill) text message updates, you would simply text “city” to 77948. The account administrator can customize the key word, and can pay extra for additional key words.txt city
  • As the account administrator, you can add phone numbers yourself. You do need to be careful that you are adding phone numbers of people who know they will be subscribed, and as soon as you add their phone number, they will receive a text message stating that they are subscribed.
  • Subscribers can easily unsubscribe by themselves, by texting the word “stop” to the same 5 digit code they used to subscribe. Every time you send a text message update, the update will come through a text message from the 5 digit code (in our case, 77948), and the text message will always end with the words “Stop to cancel.”
  • Multiple groups can be set up under one account. For example, we utilize such groups as “Home Group Leaders” and “North Campus Members.” Every time you add subscribers to a new group, they will get a customized text message stating that they’ve been subscribed to the group.
  • Txt180 has website widgets available, for people to be able to subscribe through your website.

Once you choose what service you will use, create a slide and promote it through Facebook and other social media, email, before and after service on the screens, in your bulletins and other printed publications!

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