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Text Messaging for Grassroots Community Organizing8q98suxo8d6ynknbxunmurnufy2ukorjText Messaging for Grassroots Community Organizing

(English → Dansk) View original
Translators:
Text messaging is more accessible than ever and can be a powerful tool in direct community organizing.ml2luvoycxgx0l223g2idi4a5y55udo7



Text messaging can have a huge impact on movements by enabling always-ready access to information

Is Text Messaging Right for Your Work?au4i0swcym5614wr88f9tl6p81d2q5hq

Short Message Service (SMS) can be an effective method for communicating and interacting with a relatively large audience of supporters in a direct and engaging way. Despite their reputation for being exclusively the domain of large-scale fundraising – or even Stupid, Pointless, and Annoying Messages (SPAM) – mass text messaging services have great potential to be used in grassroots community organizing in a way that can greatly benefit your mission (and your community) in the long run.g46xppmrkbvf36qhvjb0s895d6l1mgdt

Text messaging technology is old, simple, and cheap enough for it to have become by far the most widely adopted form of electronic communication, even in rural regions without internet connectivity. Even where coverage is too spotty for a phone call, a text message will always come through as soon as coverage becomes available. mrc1eov7t3lrekid95iv8wpn12p9kegxBecause it requires only the most basic infrastructure, SMS is often the tool of choice for low-capacity and community-organized projects such as citizen reporting and journalism, connecting people with doctors and educators, allowing lending and payments over long distances, and providing farmers with agricultural price updates.vvo6v7nf7y9vcwd8ow4gwsy3893wkxt5

Just a few use-cases:rk8hd0kva8ebc6rmed0wzui6ogqcynlf

     Harassment reporting and mappj1rs8hg9oxl1yapva7vvzk82b0hour3

     FrontlineSMS Projects: Legal advice, mobile payments, education1swlkzd4qe7bzbk6l683sfve1shll1bd

     Mobile Clinic communicationscn56boq8i0vv3seej7wo5p8fwwybcz0f

     Hurricane Sandy Relief: Occupy SMS connects aid with those in needak3x458j01jsbq9obywly6vm118timlj

     Text Messaging boosts farmer incomes in Indiaw3qd0edkpg7jnlmhefou6utxx6a5lyk7



Why Text Messaging Is More Powerful Than You May Thinkmplzyx4rltu42fhct59xbpjclcmr2yxe

Text messages are great for communicating with people on a closer and more informal level than is possible through e-mail or even a phone call, and it is far easier to actually engage your audience. Unlike most other forms of communication, text messaging is:7qqxco9as90dvtunw5j62v06ih73mtwk
  1. Intimate/Direct3v2kw7i9x8cj4b5lsk3137ybxrepvsbo

Unlike e-mail, where many people delete far more messages than they read, most people still read every text message they receive and keep the ones they need for later reference. Specifying distinct command words that your SMS service will recognize also makes it simple for recipients to reply as soon they receive a message (or later) if they are interested.4iatewkhu455c653f13qli6snfw8k61f

  1. Immediateb8uyloka3zgn7kr5gvrg5p7ie3ozyhl0

At a maximum of 160 characters per message, messages are small enough to be received a few seconds after they are sent.xwy8bp2qiqhz3wj9mjz0b8ze75rx7tru

  1. Always on, Everywheren62x5d2o0pp4r0yq35iq99nnfky84d1h

People who have a cell phone often carry it with them at all times, meaning they can be out and moving and still receive, read, and even respond to your message.tfmut9a2meduajsfpxdy6b6kzn4mflcz

  1. Accessiblezpo80pizq33ltl44uq9p5fri39c1tfpj

This applies both to the users/community members/constituents who subscribe to your messages, and to the experience of you and your organization. In the United States, 91% of adults carry a cell phone capable of text messaging. On top of that, it is cost effective to both send and receive text messages.de8j0ixetd70cvz026n48zs2jxhgolxr




All services can be set up to use rule-based logic, where it checks to see if conditions are true or false, then determine an action based on that.

Text Messaging Services — The ‘Brains’ Behind the Operationirn6nd48syu411vyxm5pnfwvinozd6wm

Clearly it’s not possible to text message every one of your contacts individually, let alone read and process all of the responses you receive, and group messages pose obvious privacy issues and require trust that no member is going to spam the rest of the participants (because you gave them their phone numbers).wypinoj6dqz12trdn3k5r0zghuuysw6e

So, what can you do, then?pfbcduvp193hvfndb9vlmnew73usvnka

There are countless tools that fall under the category of ‘SMS Services’. (Short Message Service Service — like ATM Machine, or PIN Number— is kind of redundant.) Each tool has the same set of core functions:77ktgxxctfqri5jbdykunw8lfbajokpm

  • Send/receive messages8hbt1jzh3ndj5ex9fos5o63b6j9s0zcz
  • Manage contacts and groups of contacts9r1s3m1lvtzsrmb7yvze6fx0vq6iscyr
  • Set up rules for how the service reacts to keywords and messagesw4yxqzpfbemvyso5tshz3d1suyvjhef3

The main differences between tools are that they vary heavily in:kiwldcfrbiqzog3noqi31u75u7437izh

  • What is required to run it,dgjg3irbzjug03h6vwc1f05lmgngbsvf
  • Where it actually runs (both the service’s ‘thinking’—which can be a smartphone, a personal computer, or ‘cloud’ server— and its texting ability—which can be any phone [with cell service], a GSM modem, or ‘cloud’ server),1tg3qdfnfmz1pqv4pbunuyre36chibd9
  • Cost of messages and the service itself,9gb8oepvch45n39042yq1c1dadrniwrh
  • Set-up (time and energy), andxb9ebse7a398urmzziycys5o9lgo7yru
  • Scale.89d8jx9qz4v66d1zooasuglnjvhjc86a

While we won’t be addressing any specific tools here, at the end of this post we’ve included the set of tools we have tested and used in projects.8jm7liad8ahya3ww7vzjcoxuqjwq3l92



Use Responsiblyjiqkbo4ewa3w37bxe1ah7cvazsfl7vnh

While SMS is possibly the most effective way to reach out to people you are trying to support through your work, if used irresponsibly —which is easy to do without meaning to— you risk alienating your community and supporters (making them former supporters) and can breach into the realm of becoming illegal SPAM. We want to help you avoid doing that and also make sure your supporters feel comfortable participating by maintaining the following:x7avbhjuzk9tmi6c40pfseedfil1m3x9
  1. Consent228iyc86yovfcolthg7jqv2pfqb3b6g4

In order to send multiple messages to a person, you must earn their consent to do so. If you have a list of participants for one of your events and their phone numbers, you are allowed to send out a blanket text message offering instructions TO consent if they choose. If they do not respond, you cannot send them any additional text messages. After consent is earned, it’s always good practice to respond to their consent with clear instructions to withdraw their consent at any time. et3u9lmuedm49iv9ptq84sbcw79o7bgcThis way they won’t feel trapped!69q6gqgv2e82l4rrdzjozx9snf9itlcq

  1. Content, Tone, and Frequencyxsojgb96luybbc2ck2iwngxcgzm1zcjn

Content: It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who consent to receive a particular type of information (example: upcoming events) usually only want to receive that type of information. Messages should be as brief as possible to address the major topic of your message. Don’t make them read a whole paragraph! If you are communicating several types of information, you should also provide ways for your audience to opt in to each type.v74brarz3dmp1rw4bthbge20kldjmgl8

Tone: When you’re talking to humans about human things, it’s perfectly appropriate to talk like a human. If you want to ask people if they are planning on attending an upcoming event, ask them like you would normally, but ask for specific responses to communicate ‘yes’, ’no’, or ‘maybe’ so your service can read it and make it useful for you. People feel more comfortable responding to a message when they feel like it comes from a community member rather than a bank!zqa9nkwiabshdnsyxcsk731cirzwqu4f

Frequency: Messages should be consistently spaced and as infrequent as possible to communicate your goals. An even better practice would be to provide a way for your audience to change options for how often they receive your messages, so they know when to expect them.7c4v2l67o5f2az5ab2d5ug9rnxt0pugm

  1. Privacyv36r9zv3scmsbzygxbpvr0bn8hzwi2q4

There are two reasons for maintaining the privacy of your contacts: 1) To protect them by allowing them to respond (relatively) anonymously, and 2) So they do not feel that if they DO opt in, they are going to receive messages from third parties or other contacts.mpie716coprvqbubukbzgek4x6u1044c

In some cases, being found to be associated with your cause may put supporters at risk — for example: if your community consists of undocumented workers, you MAY not want their identities known. Additionally, participant-to-participant communication might actually be a legitimate short-term use, if personal information about participants is concealed by your service.pq5clabuvnxnk77ny2lqolifucxv3ylj

Getting Starteddl30q506cq2qae3mbh4u4j59bknft1mw

Questions to consider when choosing a service:ihjnv1oibc6chkzl6fmykzakssvy0mm9
  • Who is my audience? How large?txn02oj2zvastodmc3ywf5qj2jet4ejo
  • How do I collect contact information from participants?cpehn9l7rjx2fw9jwa55ye28src2xa5z
  • What do I need the service to do?dh4g8v4bjqkt14nzfhuxynwwhyrap6rs
  • What do different services require or cost?davgtyoybf736vjxh726hf947oqj0lx4
  • How do I maintain the privacy of participants?jnb3xtvaa0t7v0wwbmkswvdf6ef2p5wy
  • Do I need to be able to change the service in real-time?u3fynh7tg1fnp5bw0bw8s1tegogxbxbw

Here is my rough guide to help decide which service might be appropriate for your specific use [PDF]

fm2d18uumg3di0673s6z0p97usi8d8rj

Resourcesn8x0h942jb8hxd1k01926linjhdvda5r

Below are the tools I have tried, and my assessments of many of them here [PDF]jxgbzkjzm3wfgnfh80o095kqzo1taiwj

For further reading check out Tactical Tech’s Mobiles-in-a-Box: Tools and Tactics for Mobile Advocacyfmimzeyx7d1chwadyy2fuplsfdo957ma


Creative Commons Attributions: Arrows designed by Tobias Klepp, Share designed by Anand A Nair, Protest designed by Gilad Fried, Cell Phone designed by Alex Hartmann, Cloud Settings designed by Agus Purwanto, Laptop designed by Olivier Guin, Light Bulb designed by Ema Dimitrova, Settings designed by Joe Mortell, Tips designed by Lemon Liu, Thought Bubble designed by Irene Hoffman, Radio Tower designed by Jon Anderson, NFC Phone designed by Andrew Forrester, Comment designed by Icomatic, Iphone designed by Hedie Assadi Joulaee, Signal designed by Alex Fuller.


All other glyphs fall under Public Domain from the Noun Project.
r18owrxa2uhgccwz0woj9j5q8x2z1hmi

(original) View Dansk translation
Text messaging is more accessible than ever and can be a powerful tool in direct community organizing.



Text messaging can have a huge impact on movements by enabling always-ready access to information

Is Text Messaging Right for Your Work?

Short Message Service (SMS) can be an effective method for communicating and interacting with a relatively large audience of supporters in a direct and engaging way. Despite their reputation for being exclusively the domain of large-scale fundraising – or even Stupid, Pointless, and Annoying Messages (SPAM) – mass text messaging services have great potential to be used in grassroots community organizing in a way that can greatly benefit your mission (and your community) in the long run.

Text messaging technology is old, simple, and cheap enough for it to have become by far the most widely adopted form of electronic communication, even in rural regions without internet connectivity. Even where coverage is too spotty for a phone call, a text message will always come through as soon as coverage becomes available. Because it requires only the most basic infrastructure, SMS is often the tool of choice for low-capacity and community-organized projects such as citizen reporting and journalism, connecting people with doctors and educators, allowing lending and payments over long distances, and providing farmers with agricultural price updates.

Just a few use-cases:

     Harassment reporting and map

     FrontlineSMS Projects: Legal advice, mobile payments, education

     Mobile Clinic communications

     Hurricane Sandy Relief: Occupy SMS connects aid with those in need

     Text Messaging boosts farmer incomes in India



Why Text Messaging Is More Powerful Than You May Think

Text messages are great for communicating with people on a closer and more informal level than is possible through e-mail or even a phone call, and it is far easier to actually engage your audience. Unlike most other forms of communication, text messaging is:
  1. Intimate/Direct

Unlike e-mail, where many people delete far more messages than they read, most people still read every text message they receive and keep the ones they need for later reference. Specifying distinct command words that your SMS service will recognize also makes it simple for recipients to reply as soon they receive a message (or later) if they are interested.

  1. Immediate

At a maximum of 160 characters per message, messages are small enough to be received a few seconds after they are sent.

  1. Always on, Everywhere

People who have a cell phone often carry it with them at all times, meaning they can be out and moving and still receive, read, and even respond to your message.

  1. Accessible

This applies both to the users/community members/constituents who subscribe to your messages, and to the experience of you and your organization. In the United States, 91% of adults carry a cell phone capable of text messaging. On top of that, it is cost effective to both send and receive text messages.




All services can be set up to use rule-based logic, where it checks to see if conditions are true or false, then determine an action based on that.

Text Messaging Services — The ‘Brains’ Behind the Operation

Clearly it’s not possible to text message every one of your contacts individually, let alone read and process all of the responses you receive, and group messages pose obvious privacy issues and require trust that no member is going to spam the rest of the participants (because you gave them their phone numbers).

So, what can you do, then?

There are countless tools that fall under the category of ‘SMS Services’. (Short Message Service Service — like ATM Machine, or PIN Number— is kind of redundant.) Each tool has the same set of core functions:

  • Send/receive messages
  • Manage contacts and groups of contacts
  • Set up rules for how the service reacts to keywords and messages

The main differences between tools are that they vary heavily in:

  • What is required to run it,
  • Where it actually runs (both the service’s ‘thinking’—which can be a smartphone, a personal computer, or ‘cloud’ server— and its texting ability—which can be any phone [with cell service], a GSM modem, or ‘cloud’ server),
  • Cost of messages and the service itself,
  • Set-up (time and energy), and
  • Scale.

While we won’t be addressing any specific tools here, at the end of this post we’ve included the set of tools we have tested and used in projects.



Use Responsibly

While SMS is possibly the most effective way to reach out to people you are trying to support through your work, if used irresponsibly —which is easy to do without meaning to— you risk alienating your community and supporters (making them former supporters) and can breach into the realm of becoming illegal SPAM. We want to help you avoid doing that and also make sure your supporters feel comfortable participating by maintaining the following:
  1. Consent

In order to send multiple messages to a person, you must earn their consent to do so. If you have a list of participants for one of your events and their phone numbers, you are allowed to send out a blanket text message offering instructions TO consent if they choose. If they do not respond, you cannot send them any additional text messages. After consent is earned, it’s always good practice to respond to their consent with clear instructions to withdraw their consent at any time. This way they won’t feel trapped!

  1. Content, Tone, and Frequency

Content: It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who consent to receive a particular type of information (example: upcoming events) usually only want to receive that type of information. Messages should be as brief as possible to address the major topic of your message. Don’t make them read a whole paragraph! If you are communicating several types of information, you should also provide ways for your audience to opt in to each type.

Tone: When you’re talking to humans about human things, it’s perfectly appropriate to talk like a human. If you want to ask people if they are planning on attending an upcoming event, ask them like you would normally, but ask for specific responses to communicate ‘yes’, ’no’, or ‘maybe’ so your service can read it and make it useful for you. People feel more comfortable responding to a message when they feel like it comes from a community member rather than a bank!

Frequency: Messages should be consistently spaced and as infrequent as possible to communicate your goals. An even better practice would be to provide a way for your audience to change options for how often they receive your messages, so they know when to expect them.

  1. Privacy

There are two reasons for maintaining the privacy of your contacts: 1) To protect them by allowing them to respond (relatively) anonymously, and 2) So they do not feel that if they DO opt in, they are going to receive messages from third parties or other contacts.

In some cases, being found to be associated with your cause may put supporters at risk — for example: if your community consists of undocumented workers, you MAY not want their identities known. Additionally, participant-to-participant communication might actually be a legitimate short-term use, if personal information about participants is concealed by your service.

Getting Started

Questions to consider when choosing a service:
  • Who is my audience? How large?
  • How do I collect contact information from participants?
  • What do I need the service to do?
  • What do different services require or cost?
  • How do I maintain the privacy of participants?
  • Do I need to be able to change the service in real-time?

Here is my rough guide to help decide which service might be appropriate for your specific use [PDF]

Resources

Below are the tools I have tried, and my assessments of many of them here [PDF]

For further reading check out Tactical Tech’s Mobiles-in-a-Box: Tools and Tactics for Mobile Advocacy


Creative Commons Attributions: Arrows designed by Tobias Klepp, Share designed by Anand A Nair, Protest designed by Gilad Fried, Cell Phone designed by Alex Hartmann, Cloud Settings designed by Agus Purwanto, Laptop designed by Olivier Guin, Light Bulb designed by Ema Dimitrova, Settings designed by Joe Mortell, Tips designed by Lemon Liu, Thought Bubble designed by Irene Hoffman, Radio Tower designed by Jon Anderson, NFC Phone designed by Andrew Forrester, Comment designed by Icomatic, Iphone designed by Hedie Assadi Joulaee, Signal designed by Alex Fuller.


All other glyphs fall under Public Domain from the Noun Project.



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