The Essential Guide for Using Group Texting to Organize Community Events

People are more engaged in local and national government than ever. Grassroots organizations from all parts of the political spectrum are popping up around the country looking to help change the world in a variety of different ways.

One of the biggest obstacles these groups face is finding an easy way to organize and communicate with members and interested parties. Group texting provides a way to get members organized, informed, talking and working together to be more successful in their efforts, whether their aim is to support a local candidate or get legislation passed or not passed.

Increase attendance at meetings and events with a group texting program.

Why Choose SMS?

Why should you consider using SMS over other forms of communication such as social media or email? There are a few key reasons: 

  • It's fast 
  • It's inclusive
  • It has a high open rate

Not everyone in your community group will want to connect on social media to stay informed. However, almost everyone has an SMS-enabled phone, making it possible to receive messages about events, rallies, meetings and more. Texting is something that reaches across income level and educational level divides. Plus, you also can cross generational gaps, since it is not just millennials and gen Z'ers adept with texting; older smartphone users text almost as much as their younger counterparts. This inclusivity makes it much easier to communicate with all members of your community. 

Additionally, text messages have a high open rate, and they are typically opened within just a few minutes. You do not have to compete with the many things crowding social media newsfeeds and email inboxes. This means that even when things change at the last minute, you are able to communicate with your members. If a key piece of legislation is passed, then you can rally your members to act right away. If your meeting changes locations or times, then you also have a chance to let everyone know. 

Group texting is a simple communications solution for community organizations, whether grassroots or nationwide groups. However, there are some key considerations to make, and some best practices to follow so that your members remain not just informed but happy:

  1. Get permission: Make sure you only text members who opt-in to the service
  2. Be respectful: Limit the number of texts and send at appropriate times
  3. Segment your list: Organize your list based on interests
  4. Share quality content: Send relevant content of value that resonates with your members

Get permission

The most important aspect of any successful group texting campaign is that you have permission to text your recipients. This should be written permission of which you retain records. There are a few different ways to get this permission: 

  • Include it as part of the sign in sheet
  • Add it to online forms for contact information 
  • Opt-in keywords
  • Confirmation text

The easiest way to get permission from your potential group members is to have them opt-in with a keyword. Most likely, you are familiar with this, as it is the way that most SMS marketing programs get people to sign up. On your informational materials, including your brochures, flyers, social media sites and websites, simply provide information about your group texting program, including your keyword and short code. This might look like: 

Sign up to receive updates on [issue/group name] by texting [keyword] to [shortcode]. 

In addition to asking for opt-ins this way, also include it as a communication option when people sign up either in person or online to become a member of your organization. Some people might choose to just receive texts from you, or they might choose to receive them in addition to email and/or social media updates. 

Make sure to have everyone confirm that they really do want to be part of your texting campaign.

Once your members have signed up, either through a form or a text, send a confirmation text. This text should include a link to your terms and conditions, as well as an action such as:

Text YES to confirm, NO to opt out, or HELP for more information.

This serves as an added assurance that everyone on your list wants to receive your texts. Furthermore, you also will have a record that you have permission for your program. It is important to also include ways for your subscribers to easily opt out or get help on future text messages so that if people change their mind, they know how to stop receiving messages.

Be respectful

It's also important to be respectful to your members of your group texting program. This might seem obvious, since you are closely working together to advance your cause. However, there is more to being respectful than just the words you send, although those are important. So, be sure to do the following: 

  • Limit your number of texts
  • Text during appropriate hours
  • Remain relevant to the group's mission
  • Avoid potentially abusive or hurtful comments or content 
  • Set parameters and follow them 

Establish guidelines to ensure that everyone who texts within your organization will remain respectful. Guidelines also give your members an idea of what to expect if they choose to subscribe. You might determine these guidelines on your own, or you might come up with them at a group meeting, depending on the size and structure of your group. Regardless, respect should always be at the forefront of your program. 

Although there are plenty of reasons to text out to your community about actions or events, you do want to limit the number of messages and text during appropriate hours. The number of texts that becomes troublesome depends on your own organization and the members' preferences. To determine the right number, ask your members and look at your opt-out rate. If you notice a lot of members unsubscribing, then you might be sending too many messages. 

Additionally, remain relevant to the mission of your group. There might be many things that you hope to accomplish, but that does not mean that you should be sending general texts to your group. Limit your texts to the latest news, events, updates and other information that they need to know. Even in emergencies, avoid texting at inappropriate hours, such as during the night when people are sleeping.  

Create groups

Depending on the size of your community organization, you might have several sub-groups. Perhaps some people are more interested in helping with different aspects of your movement than others. For example, some people might wish to have a leadership role, and others wish to simply show up when you tell them to do so. Therefore, you want to segment your subscriber list into groups. Organizing your list based on people's preferences ensures that they only receive messages relevant to them. 

So, how do you know what group to put people into? There are a few different ways you can gain this insight: 

  • Run a survey 
  • Ask them at sign up 
  • Check their participation history 

With this information, you will know which section to organize a person. Some of your more active members might belong to several of your text groups. This is fine, but just be sure that you do not end up sending duplicate texts. This could cause your opt-out rate to spike.

The more specific you make your lists, the more relevant the content. This keeps people signed up to your group texting program, and it helps you to ensure that your calls for action are hitting those most likely to help out. 

The right content

Keep your members happy by only sending out content that matters to them.

Another essential component of a successful group texting program is that it distributes relevant content of value to the recipient. It might be tempting to use your texting program as a way to send many different informative items to your members, but you want to limit it to the most important messages. Instead, share additional information on your social media pages or through your email newsletter. To maintain your group texting program's impact, you need to limit what you send. Ideally, send out the following messages: 

  • Reminders 
  • Event invites 
  • Donation requests
  • Important updates or information

Any funny memes or relevant newspaper articles should be saved for other forms of communication -- unless it is something you feel that everyone really needs to see. If you do want to ensure that your members who might not follow you through email or social media see certain content, consider creating a web page that aggregates important information for a particular week. Then, send out one text per week with a link to this page so that members can stay informed without feeling overwhelmed by several messages.

Remember, a strong group texting program follows certain guidelines. People expect every text you send to be directly related to an action they plan to take or valuable information they must see. If they are looking for everyday social interaction with your group, they will probably head to social media for that. 

There are five main categories of messages that typically are appropriate for a group text message: 

  • Inform members
  • Organize volunteers and subgroups
  • Promote events
  • Get donations
  • Emergency alerts 

Your group might choose other content to include on top of this, and as long as your members are happy with what you send out, then you have remained relevant and of value to them. Plus, you can use texting as a two-way communication forum through which members can contact you to ask questions or alert you to the latest news. 

Whether you are trying to get a candidate elected or legislation approved, for either local or national government, it is important to get citizens united and involved. Communication and organization play key roles in being able to do so, and group texting provides one way to mobilize your group. It works well on its own, and it complements your social media and email communication channels as well. 

Ready to step up your organization's communication abilities? Then try ClubTexting for free and get started today.

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