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Text Messaging for Grassroots Community Organizing3nvva2sc1doyhupre0ty0mbaynjkqdrkText Messaging for Grassroots Community Organizing

(English → हिन्दी) View original
Translators:
Text messaging is more accessible than ever and can be a powerful tool in direct community organizing.s3fe78iy4avqhxidcqf6t2e9lz0pw6gf



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

Is Text Messaging Right for Your Work?b9a4bvl5j2kmf0cinah3cy6kx1xbdree

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.ux5cf06cyc9ju355gbjzcuxcqlbfsubc

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. bnu3t38a8j2po9edsa85o3f8lg1o9wkaBecause 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.e6zjpuvsxz8gi4q6c9ievquihk2ht7ix

Just a few use-cases:hp4h2lit4xwpti3zyranmxtceq5uwkh4

     Harassment reporting and mapnus4a2rav7n3oeveue0j25avlobme1ns

     FrontlineSMS Projects: Legal advice, mobile payments, educationu4c0hhhozwcb7yplh7d9j8uspa11ruhb

     Mobile Clinic communicationszdwx5d723ljk7z1s4zqiytepadpxml9b

     Hurricane Sandy Relief: Occupy SMS connects aid with those in neednngtcswh7s7sqidh8r3qwwymvfecyd3c

     Text Messaging boosts farmer incomes in Indiauwi8i8mdbhwjrj76dkhhdzikzj3st5fd



Why Text Messaging Is More Powerful Than You May Thinkscyzu75pb0ly0zky5tywoz6q4owt0bji

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:86ih6pnky4t01sugpfsyhlq0v5m7bnya
  1. Intimate/Direct49oj8k3koh12vxok781i2r7ofp90ck07

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.nf19up6r3r8ga0hp0alel5gh8953anfo

  1. Immediate9yo78yb99pvpmdujlrdntuxs5f7xdzec

At a maximum of 160 characters per message, messages are small enough to be received a few seconds after they are sent.2axahnov2b2a8vor1ajqp49c0i7nmf4e

  1. Always on, Everywherenb28cftws9q12rj25auzxsq5xosh7t4l

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.ohxgg1e36jfyhcvqgcwvy6hxqqo2nv11

  1. Accessibleu9hu5zmha8460d7f349mwsjdcud0inv2

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.4advmeul2gengph43b4k2rhcyzwc80w2




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 Operationlkcqv9bgw2jati3c740qawjo6t8hlnvw

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).3fw0daa2ijxhwsr4v64nja85pp6k6bg0

So, what can you do, then?26zmn0nubs5pt8ap5vmezyzfe0wru24n

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:3ivaq83zseowuyhz856a9h8m7tlpg1b9

  • Send/receive messagesuc609pxhucuajrm0uo1dij0fcpb5g510
  • Manage contacts and groups of contactseeh6ozg12y4ctoptlidg2gqbuv32nrnr
  • Set up rules for how the service reacts to keywords and messages2o1ldw5xonb2c8j08s9701aqxgazi1ya

The main differences between tools are that they vary heavily in:yd3wd7lc9xzidixey9nnm3ubv6xxer72

  • What is required to run it,gnbvgamz1339z8sczyuw4u6ikdd565bd
  • 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),zb632fp6fdaoebmzs0wsm8xaew99379t
  • Cost of messages and the service itself,kcbjf6cpnbyx87zbei71dxw3t2u372qi
  • Set-up (time and energy), andy1vuy094qllc8hdpmh3zyzxor9hj3szs
  • Scale.4xahlvgy7o8yy5rohwm2efki9z72svim

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.z4us36dvayvehxm2pd00z04kp7di7krw



Use Responsiblyvtdl4isbdq0ti7ihfcfgkk6n5e0glai6

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:eh8bq5v0ai78fabm9whu3hfxzyfkjvgn
  1. Consent4lkfoo585dctcmoz5mkfqc6vnm9p0wsv

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. i2uq9k4a0bmiz4yafs6munjmbjcdpznxThis way they won’t feel trapped!jc3puo6esirrlub8yhvvcfvtiqs3hvsq

  1. Content, Tone, and Frequencywjm0czltvaepm4746xrtxhfwyfx1v3ji

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.vv7i7imp0wn9of0m8k4vr40pqf7gqygb

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!1jv5fgv6r6emitr1n6bqptz7xdvq7f3z

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.igtfqxdh9pkj884teyb5iandkhm8vk63

  1. Privacyvnc78rswuh7g8izp4w7kld6g0oaoraxd

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.z6in40ffjxv8kwciqwhcu1nrfudiunwj

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.g6fe3oiilbbo1az622es6jhche0im2rs

Getting Startedudyolzxx6lglj2cksis783iefknyh9z1

Questions to consider when choosing a service:u67oo2hkyrlvoaqzu8zz9vclnsloa54u
  • Who is my audience? How large?x6u4jtm2n7qmzo2bf798z1aw1fnidil1
  • How do I collect contact information from participants?beee25j0qhwj0gg7no6n33ch05byr8ut
  • What do I need the service to do?7lxp2yyxtr1zj8uld523o6wjybyenf3k
  • What do different services require or cost?pdnpn1i1lfnq5y7jxuauoxqq5jd4xb7d
  • How do I maintain the privacy of participants?yh0t3ks9zabb29ketkvxush6bp89xukl
  • Do I need to be able to change the service in real-time?6lux132hd5gfhlxqqsyjh5pmiv3decxb

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

40spu2ksd54t7jaihkxxsmva4zvwkz0e

Resourcesipciuwzqgx9rqt6eqiudv7edlo0cyp96

Below are the tools I have tried, and my assessments of many of them here [PDF]lqhfqn4q4vx01oipb0443vcnzb2ni1qu

For further reading check out Tactical Tech’s Mobiles-in-a-Box: Tools and Tactics for Mobile Advocacy69md4wrrub39d2vjwiwvu2bhez5zldpi


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.
q3cbuoenndikqqjuj4i6dbb21mg7h2ly

(original) View हिन्दी 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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