To begin using text messaging, you will have to set up a phone number in your nation and have the text messaging addon. To add the service to your plan, go to Settings > Billings & Addons > Monthly Plan and check the box next to Text Messaging Addon. Be sure to click the Charge plan button to save your changes.
There are two ways to use text messaging to connect with your supporters. You can send text blasts to a group of supporters to keep them informed about your organization or remind them about details on an upcoming event. Or, you can add a text keyword to pages on your website to allow people to take action on the go. For example, supporters can RSVP to an event or sign a petition via text keyword.
Table of contents
Here are some ideas for maximizing your text messaging success:
- Include "Text JOIN to [your broadcaster's phone number]" or similar language in the footer of your web site, on outgoing emails, in your office, and on literature. This will grow the number of supporters on your text messaging list, as well as allow supporters to contact you via phone. You want to grow your text message list because it is one of the most effective ways to reach your supporters.
- If you are creating a new profile for a supporter, be sure to confirm she is okay with being sent text messages. If she does not explicitly agree, uncheck the box next to “Receive text message” before saving the profile. People will consider it a violation of their privacy if they are opted into text messaging without their consent.
- Use text blasts to update all of your supporters about new happenings in your nation, but also use them to coordinate with small groups of people. If you have a team working on site at an event for example, you can send text blasts to a saved list of everyone on that team in order to update them about changing circumstances.
- Keywords allow your supporters to take action without actually being at their computer. Most action pages (petition, events, etc.) in NationBuilder let you set up text message keywords that users can text in order to participate. Keywords are also great for growing your text message list because every action is a new reason for someone to opt in.
Text blasting in four steps
Content: You’ll choose a slug for your blast - this is a short name to help identify the blast. Next, you’ll type the text of your message. You can use up to 160 characters. We recommend always letting people know how to opt out of receiving messages which is why “txt STOP to leave” is auto-populated. You can change the wording, but we recommend keeping this sentiment as the final phrase in your message. If a recipient replies with “stop, end, remove, or quit,” he will be opted out of receiving text messages from your nation. Once you have composed your text message, click the Preview and choose recipients button to continue.
Choose recipients: On the next screen you can choose the recipients of your text message. Your options are similar to email blasting, although with text messaging you are only able to text supporters who have opted into receiving text messages. You can send to all supporters with cell phone numbers, to a subset of these people who are on a particular list, with a particular tag, or by a filter.
Note that you can only choose one of those options and if you sort by tag, you can choose a single tag. If you want to gather people who have one tag or another tag, you can do this in advanced search and save it as a filter. Click the Save recipients button to save your choice. When you save your choice, the list of people on the right side will change to reflect your criteria. At the top, a message says “Will send to XX of XXX people” The next line will explain that the other people who match your criteria don’t have cell phone, or have opted out. Recipients will then be listed individually underneath the count.
Preview and send: Once you have chosen your recipients go to the Preview tab. Here you’ll see a preview of your text blast. You can send a test text by entering a single mobile phone number (including area code) into the box on the right side. Then click the Send Test Text button to send the test text. When you are comfortable with your message, click the “Send text now to XX people” button to send your text blast.
Review your stats: Go to Texting > Blasts to review your stats. You’ll be able to review the following stats for your text blasts: sent, delivered, responses, unsubscribes, and failed to send. These stats will be updated as activity occurs, but you may need to wait awhile to see the initial results of your text blast.
Watch this video below from NationBuilder Live to see how to set up a text blast:
Whenever a visitor can take action on your website, he can also do so online or via text. To enable the option of joining, RSVPing for an event, signing a petition or other activity via text messaging, you’ll want to define a text keyword on that page. For example, here is how to add a keyword to a petition page:
- Click the Edit icon next to the page.
- Go to Petition > Text Keywords
- Define the keyword
In this screen you can change the broadcaster whom people should text to join. By default, your website’s primary broadcaster is chosen. You can use a keyword like “petition” or one specific to the reason for the petition. The keyword should be a single word - no spaces. You can type the keyword with lower case letters - the message on your petition page will include the keyword in all capital letters, but the system will accept either “petition” or “PETITION.”
You can then type an autoresponse to send to people who signup. For example, you may want to say “Thank you for signing the petition!” If you leave the text box blank, no autoresponse will be sent.
Once you have reviewed all three areas, click the Add keyword button.
The following keywords are included with your virtual phone number by default and cannot be used on a particular page within your website:
- JOIN - Person becomes a supporter of your nation and opts into receiving text messages
- STOP - Person opts out of receiving text messages and cannot be sent text blasts
- END - Person opts out of receiving text messages and cannot be sent text blasts
- REMOVE - Person opts out of receiving text messages and cannot be sent text blasts
- QUIT - Person opts out of receiving text messages and cannot be sent text blasts
To see how to set up text keywords step-by-step, watch this video from NationBuilder Live: