An August 18, 2015 article by New York Times author Nick Corasaniti titled, “Presidential Campaigns See Texting as a Clear Path to Voters” highlighted the way 2016 Presidential candidates are using text messaging for campaign purposes. The below is our reaction and response to the article.
Mr. Corasaniti’s article perfectly highlighted the evolution of our acceptance of text messages from senders other than our friends and family. Notifications have singlehandedly desensitized us, while also conditioning us to know that if a text comes in, whether from a company or a person, there’s an importance. It’s like a new level of “urgent” has been discovered to reach people. Email usage has plateaued over the past few years, and people are beginning to shy away from social media. From this perspective, texting has become the top channel out of necessity.
The subject of the article was perfect. Our age-old technology, SMS/MMS/texting, depending on what generation you’re from and where you work, is making a major comeback. Companies like GoButler and Magic have gained notoriety due to using this old technology in new ways. It makes sense that other “businesses” (campaigns really are businesses) take advantage of the ubiquity of text messaging. Our favorite lines are below with a brief commentary for each.
Something almost guaranteed to be read.
As of 2014, 99% of text messages are read. That astonishing number dwarfs the 33% of emails that are read. At the Teckst office, we have a saying that if you want someone to reply, you’ve got to text them. A recent article in the New York Times actually outlined how teens and Millennials are skipping voicemail altogether, and rely on their text messaging inbox for call-back requests (link).
Texting — that 1990s-vintage technology — has suddenly become a go-to vehicle for presidential campaigns…
Well, hello there, texting. Your Uber is arriving. You’ve reached your 1GB/year data max on AT&T. Your doggy daycare date with Jasper in Central Park starts in an hour. Text alerts have become normal, if not necessary. But what about replying to the message the same way you reply to a friend or family member? That’s the new shift. Politicians, airlines, hotels, even barber shops are all venturing into the world of two-way communication. The Text Industry has evolved from a simply notification to a more complex opportunity for two-way texting. It’s taken 30 years to get here, but our newfound dislike of email and phone calls has opened us up to other channels.
“A text is almost a sacred thing…”
This is incredibly accurate. With our thousands of customers, the one thing that’s certain is that the text message communication is far more sacred than an email or even a phone call. Texts are a direct way into a voter’s life. Texting is the most-used, most-opened, most-preferred method of communication for Americans. Just because politicians have the ability to text doesn’t mean they should. For political use, texting should be an exclusively one-way channel for them to collect sentiment from voters, not to blast them with propaganda and bastardize this direct connection to voters.
Too many emails can be ignored or filtered into the trash.
This is so true. The features of email have yet to jump to text messaging (so far). Things like a trash bin don’t exist, so the decision to remove a text is much more serious. There’s no deleted texts box, no undo. Email, however, is a passive channel where the expectation of the sender is that 75%+ of the recipients won’t open it, so it can be used to passively remind someone of something, versus a text that will certainly be read and replied to (if needed).
Where it Missed the Mark
The entire point of texting is two-way communication. Politicians are using texting in the same way as robocalls, but for texting. As stated, it’s expensive, and can be intrusive. So how can politicians pivot to a more-approachable usage of text message? Let’s imagine the article title was, “Presidential Campaigns see Texting as a Clear Path from Voters.” From. Rather than send message to, they should consider receiving messages from. In a field of so many GOP contenders, and a narrowing gap between the (current) Democratic Party candidates, the one who has their pulse on social topics from the voter’s mouth will be the one to strategize a lead by listening.
When Mr. Trump’s cell phone number was given out, many people (obviously) reached his voicemail. Others couldn’t even get through. We’ll never know, but we can hypothesize he received thousands of text messages as well. With the right platform, his campaign could have used texts to help listen and propel his lead even further ahead.
We hope that before the voters hit the polls, candidates will all have a clear path towards receiving texts, and perhaps even replying to them, to really listen to Americans the way Americans listen to each other.