Text messaging is the way to mass communicate with students for two reasons:
1) The message never gets missed (unlike a email inbox that doesn’t get checked or a social media post that didn’t get seen).
2) Text messages illicit the fastest response. Because text messages get pushed directly to their phone (that’s always on them) and it’s private (meaning the communication isn’t seen by the public like social media sites -with the exception of DM’s), you’ll get a faster response when needed.
There are of course downsides to using text messaging as your primary communication medium: #1 you usually have to disclose your personal number. #2 keeping up-to-date text list can be tiresome. #3 it can be strange from a new student’s perspective for someone to ask for their phone number.
Problem #1 is my personal issue. I don’t like students having my cell #. It always seems to invade my personal time with my family.
Problem #2 & #3 are important because it will keep your contact list from growing.
Keywords are the solution to all three of these problems.
A ‘keyword’ is a short word that a student would send a text message to in order to join your texting list.
For example, your keyword could be ‘youth’. So students text the word ‘youth’ to a designated # and voila, they are on your text list. Your # wasn’t give out, you didn’t have to ask a student for their number, and your list was automatically managed and updated.
For our youth ministry we ask the student to text ‘revyouth’ to 393939. This is so easy to promote through social networks, print promo or announcements.
Keywords can cost anywhere from $10-$30/month depending on your provider. The US has way better options than up here in Canada.
Keyword are also a great way to build text lists for specific events (ie. camps, retreats, trips).
Do you use keywords in your ministry?