Friday, 30 May 2008

SMS Engagement

I posted on the Esendex Blog about SMS Blogging to Paris. I'd built a web site ( for the event and thought it would be a great idea if the riders and support team could send SMS messages in to the web site in order to keep our supporters at home updated. It was a stellar success.

I only gave the virtual mobile number to the team members as I was a little concerned about there being no moderation controls on a web site for a school affiliated event. The genie however was already out of the bottle.

A couple of the riders gave the number to their families and the dam was breached. Messages of support came flooding in as the number spread quite literally around the world. We had people texting in from as far afield as Australia.

The riders were clamouring round my laptop every night to see if anyone they knew had posted a message and/or replied to their posts throughout the day. Two-way conversations were happening between riders and children at the school.

Whether we'd have had the same response if I had provided a form on the web site for people to post comments I don't know but I do believe that using SMS as the transport medium added certain features that made it more successful.

Firstly anyone could do it anywhere, fundamentally important for the riders but I postulate that this also helped the viral spread of texting in. Our friends and families back home would have been bumping into each other, share what they knew about the service and it could have been acted on straight away, rather than having to wait until they were back at a computer.

Secondly, I think the constraints inherent in texting from a mobile handset kept messages short and succinct meaning a lot more messages could be displayed on the web site. Rather than a long message dominating the home page, lots of messages gave a more dynamic feel to the site, encouraging more usage.

The results were astounding, it was a huge motivational boost for the riders but it also engaged our friends, families and supporters in an unforeseen fashion.

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