SMS for Advocacy: Non-profit organizations that deal with issue advocacy should use SMS
Are you already texting the legal profession? If you are a non-profit advocacy organization, consider adding SMS (or SMS) to your advocacy communication program. If you are looking for advocacy SMS tools, check out our list of 100 campaign tools. Texts are a very personal way of communicating in many ways – a quick way to get in touch with friends, family, colleagues, etc. However, as people increasingly rely on cell phones, they are turning to SMS to communicate (data usage) Now it is vastly outpacing actual phone usage for Americans with cell phones. Hence, it is important to adapt text and incorporate it into your legal work. Meet people where they are, so to speak. Here are our top reasons to consider texting the legal profession if you haven’t explored this medium:
People still pay attention to texts: It’s a pretty intuitive point, but people haven’t started to ignore advocacy texts like they have advocacy emails. Advocacy texts have a tremendous open rate compared to advocacy emails, and besides that, people tend to read them and even reply to them. Text can contain links to call up actions that can mean immediate engagement.
Only six percent of households have a landline connection: Over the past five years, households have lost their landlines and most are now completely mobile. This means that when people on your list give you a phone number, many of them will give you a cell phone number. Building a mobile advocacy group takes time, but if you have a list of supporters, you probably already have some cell phone numbers in your back pocket (just make sure you ask them to sign up before sending them regular action notifications!).
Mobile makes the legal profession easy to complete: Advocacy actions displayed on a mobile phone are often very easy to perform, which should result in a higher conversion rate. This is especially true for SMS. If you ask someone to make an advocacy call and they can simply click the linked phone number to connect, there is an easy way to help them out. The same goes for interfering with a video, navigating to a mobile-optimized login page, and asking people to share. The format for SMS (its brevity, its ubiquitous presence in people’s lives, ease of use) makes it really easy for supporters to do what you ask.
SMS is the Swiss Army Knife for organization these days, but be careful – the rules for different types of SMS are different (broadcast versus peer-to-peer, disclaimer requirements, etc.). As always, before starting any text messaging program, check with your attorney and make sure you understand what you can and can’t do with your lists regarding text.
Broadcast SMS – Sending SMS from an opt-in list can be very powerful, especially for member organizations. As soon as a member has decided to send an SMS, the member’s trust and buy-in increase.
Peer-to-peer SMS – Text messaging other members from volunteers can be a good opportunity to get volunteers to recruit others to take action.
Relational organization – Through SMS, people can use their own networks to organize themselves so that people cannot use their personal relationships.
What can we use SMS for? There are many uses for SMS advocacy – fundraising, petitioning, grassroots, lobbying, patch-through click-to-call, general meetings, and more.
SMS petitions – Signing a petition doesn’t have to be a challenge. A link in text or a petition page optimized for mobile devices can make online petitions a breeze.
Click to call – Patch-through calling was a great tool in the landline days. Well, you can do this with text too and get people to click to call and connect with their lawmaker.
To meet – Getting people to join a virtual community meeting is difficult, but SMS is a great recruiting tool for pre-registration and a reminder on the day of the event. Personal lobbying is tough these days, but texting can get members to call their lawmakers for a virtual meeting or text or tweet on a specific day.
SMS fundraising – A text donation request is easy to answer and connects to an audience that is willing to give. A text is also a great reminder to collect donations or ask once an action has been taken.
User generated content – Asking your best supporters to make a video or social post can be of great help to your advocacy campaign. By integrating SMS with a UGC tool, you can improve your company’s advocacy game and expand advocates in specific demographic and geographic areas.
Multi-way communication – SMS can help you build relationships. Let’s count the ways! You can build a relationship between you and your members, your members and lawmakers, and your organization and your lawmakers, but wait, there’s more. All of these measures can also help to get the general public involved!
Would you like to learn more about advocacy SMS? Don’t take our word for it. Here are some outside resources that explain how to write advocacy SMS in more detail:
Change.org’s Webinar over SMS for legal professionals. The webinar is long, but highlights include discussing Greenpeace’s experience of creating a text program and other statistics on why SMS is a smart choice for the charitable advocacy world (in case you need some numbers to get the idea across to your To sell colleagues).
Growing advocates of phone to action through SMS – Read phone2action’s case study with the National Parks Conservation Association on how they used SMS to build new lawyers.
Use SMS to create offline promotions – Read Get Thru’s case study on the launch of the ACLU.
To concludeIf you’re a nonprofit looking to drive advocacy action, consider an advocacy text message (I’m here all week, tip your waiters!). If you have any questions, send us a message or register for one of our advocacy training courses here.