Twitter, Your Free Text Messaging System.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Branding, Concepts, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, RSS, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Web | Posted on 08-20-2008

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A lot of discussion lately has revolved around how/why/if/should Twitter be used in Higher Ed. While my recent research of nearly 300 incoming freshman shows that……..2 students use Twitter, I want to go back to a point that I made in my last post about this topic.

Does the student even need to know what Twitter is, or that they are using it?

Here’s a freebie for you.

Twitter Text Updates. Twitter was essentially designed and built around SMS, but seems to veered from that. Let’s not forget about this powerful feature. Here’s my step-by-step guide to get started. I can’t lay it out for you any more than this.

First, get your twitter account, such as @butleradmission. This account is where you will push updates to students from. Be specific with your account. Is it for news? Sports? Deadline reminders? Decide now and stick to it.

After you get your account, you just need to tell people how to follow and then set up your page. You will see on @butleradmission that I designed a background with the instructions on it in case anyone stumbles across it. Brand it with your school colors and logo, and fill out the short profile. After that, you’re ready to go.

I highly recommend that you grab a cell phone and walk through this on your own to see it work. Basically, it goes like this:

And what word is missing in all of those messages that Twitter sends? Twitter! As far as the student knows, it’s just some cool thing that your school has set up. If they dig deeper, they might find that Twitter is behind all of this awesomeness, and that’s fine too.

So now you are ready to start pushing text messages to them from your new twitter account.

Wow. That was simple. Here are a few more things to consider.

  • When you go to your Twitter page, you will see the # of followers you have. This number (minus spam accounts) shows you how many students are utilizing the service.
  • I would suggest a page on your site that explains how to follow/unfollow. And mention that standard text messaging fees apply, ask their provider if they have questions, etc.
  • This service only works in the US.
  • Already have an RSS feed? Use a site like Twitterfeed.com to push updates without any extra work on your behalf. That’s what I do for @butlersports. Haven’t touched that account in 6 months. I am going to start promoting “text follow butlersports to 40404″ for updates after the game! We have an RSS feed for every sport individually as well, so if you have that and want to allow a little more personalization, then take the extra time to set up separate accounts for each feed.

Think outside of the box. The opportunities for innovation are right at your fingertips. I’ve did my fair amount of sharing in this post, what other ideas do you have to share with the community?

Comments posted (10)

I wasn’t *too* bothered about losing SMS in the UK until I read this! This would have been a really cool thing to do. Now we’ll have to run something similar ourselves.

Brad, this is a great option for using Twitter. This could be a really great option for connecting with students.

One concern I might have is how many students would actually sign up for it, especially after the stats you brought up. How about throwing a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly selected follower as a perk for signing up?

@Andrew – I’m working on a blog post about this, but in a nutshell… it’s not so much about how many students use it, but engaging those who truly care with the tool. With no cost and extremely minimal effort on this, why not provide the option?

Kids don’t use Twitter. Kids DO use text. Present it as that and you’ll take the effort further.

Then, send the $50 gift card to me. :)

twitter is 2008′s media-nerd darling :) jealous that my canadianness keeps me out of the loop on SMS tho …

I’ve infected all of the neighborhood kids with twitter this summer (of course they’re all 13 and older per TOS) — they all think it’s great, and are daily/power users. My guess is that college students will start jumping on as word gets out.

Set this up last week and already have 10 subscribers. Great tip – I should send you some Allegheny gear :)

I accept any and all SWAG. Please send to:

Brad J Ward
Butler University
4600 Sunset Ave
RH106
Indianapolis, IN 46208

:)

Brad – cool stuff. What if I wanted to leverage other communications to these prospective students. Is there a way to get their email, mobile #, etc so I can leverage other communication methods? (does twitter provide a manner to bulk get at this kind of stuff)

Brian – Twitter does not allow you to export this type of data, but you could ask them to opt-in using an existing method.

[...] friend and occasional hotel room crasher Brad Ward wrote a post last fall about Twitter and its been stuck in my mind ever [...]

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