Using Text Messaging to Effect Social Change
I’ve written about a lot of different uses for text messaging in our blog. But today I read an article about an organisation using it in a completely new way: Bully Text, a game, played via text message over the course of a day.
The group behind this game called The Bully Text, is DoSomething.org in partnership with Be Star and the World Wrestling Foundation (WWF). The game is aimed at North American students with the objective of raising awareness of bullying and to encourage action when a student sees someone being bullied. The program began back in 2012 and claims to have had 900,000 games of Bully Text played according to their website. Here’s how it works.
As the students move through a normal school day, they will receive text messages briefly describing a situation where their friend is being bullied. They then decide and reply with the action they would take based on the choices given. For example, they can choose to be silent or to speak up. If the student makes all the right choices they are awarded with a “yearbook superlative” from the game and a chance to win a college scholarship.
The game certainly has the potential to raise awareness. There isn’t any data on how it has affected bullying directly, at least not publicly. But awareness campaigns are just that, to get people thinking about a subject they might not otherwise know about, or to see it in a new light.
Beyond the social value of this particular example, what I found most interesting is the gaming aspect. Perhaps you’ve played 20 questions over text messages with a mate or family member when you were bored, but the Bully Text is an automated, large scale, repeatable game. It makes me wonder about other applications it could be used for in a gaming context.
I imagine full day adventures completely controlled by text messages. You get your first message in the morning when you wake up or leave the house. Throughout your day you follow the prompts to visit certain places, or perform certain actions, and reply when you’re done. Perhaps answer questions based on what you find there.
At the end there is some sort of a reward, or the opportunity to do something for a cause you believe in. Maybe the entire day would be spent working for some kind of social change. Or it could all just be for fun, the mystery of it all not knowing what you’ll be instructed to do next.
There is probably a more direct possibility for you to use the “game” approach in your business though. Think about it, get creative, and start a one of a kind campaign.
There’s no shortage of organisations trying to help smokers quit. These include groups that use SMS as a means of supporting smokers while they try to quit. There’s quite a lot of evidence that text messaging can help people break bad habits, or make positive improvements in their lives. Here’s one example from George Washington University.
Read how clubs can benefit from the use of text messaging services to reduce wasted time and increase customer satisfaction. They can confirm appointments in advance with an option to text back to cancel or re-schedule thus reducing no-shows. SMS is also great for sharing news and special offers with members.
Despite a greater than ever demand for playschool places, many sessions remain unfilled due to the varied hours that parents and carers choose to book, as well as other factors such as illness, holidays and routine appointments. Empty spaces are not just an inconvenience when it comes to staff scheduling - they are also valuable sales opportunities. So how can you make sure your nursery fills those empty spaces and maximises profits? The answer lies in SMS messaging.
Schools up and down the country are working tirelessly to increase the opportunities available to young people. But, with budgets being cut, these are tough times for many education providers. One of the biggest challenges facing head teachers, class teachers, and office staff is how to find cost-effective means of effectively communicating with the parents and carers of their pupils. That's where SMS text messaging comes in.
Becoming a parent the first time is often overwhelming. To know what to do, we read books, search online, ask our family and friends. But even then it’s easy to suffer from information overload. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple checklist, or specific activities we could be told about on a regular basis via SMS?
It used to be you could skip a lecture or sleep late at university. But using the excuse you forgot about a session is about to become less believable than it already was. And it's all down to the ways educational institutions are using new technology to engage with students, mainly SMS.
SMS messaging is proving to be an essential tool for communication between schools, students, parents and staff. SMS messages can be broadcast from schools to parents notifying them of sudden school closures for bad weather, changes of schedule for sporting events or transport delays. And much more too!
When it comes to using SMS messaging in student education, one major issue that comes up is whether students should have mobile phones at all (in class). Currently in the UK, each school sets its own rules on mobile phone usage. Some allow them in class and some ban them entirely.