sms campaign

How to Run a Mobile Advocacy Campaign (and how not to)

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jan 14, 2007

Amnesty's campaign to close Guatanamo using SMS has been bothering me ever since I opted in to the mobile action network. Don't get me wrong - the web campaign is great and the pictures and stories on the blog are effective.

But the mobile campaign is all wrong.  Yes, mobile campaigns are a new medium, only beginning to show a return, and not well understood.  This is even true for big commercial campaigns that are only now sticking their toes into the mobile marketing waters.

But come on, advocacy organization, you are smarter than that. Mobile marketing is not rocket science, there is already a lot we know, and even as you experiment, use some common sense and pay attention to what you already know about engaging users and constituents.

So in order:

1. What's happening in the mobile marketing market that advocacy organizations should pay attention to (caution: this is US-centric!)

  • Carriers in the US are loosening up their previously tight restrictions on mobile advertising. Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, and AT&T are now allowing banner ads on their landing pages
  • More and more Americans have WAP-enabled phones, allowing them to do more and more on their cell phones, including watching video and photos, browsing the web, and of course, ubiquitous text messaging. rich media mobile messaging for greater brand and communication impact. Marketers now have at their disposal MMS (define), WAP push (clickable links to WAP-based multimedia content incorporated into SMS messages), and video shortcodes (consumers receive a video stream directly to their handset in response to texting to a shortcode).
  • Altogether more than 74% of US adults have cell phones -- and they do not leave the house without them (and their keys and wallets - the three things most adults walk around with at all times.)
  • Sms/texting is growing by leaps and bounds with more than 64.8 billion SMS messages sent in the first six months of 2006, up 98.8% from 32.6 billion in first six months of 2005.
  • Mobile marketers are salivating, with polls, contests, coupons, and even mobi-sodes, short sms serial stories hitting the commercial market.  Pepsi, Ford, Toyota, Burger King all have mobile campaigns, and more and more marketers are allocating hard dollars to "mobile marketing" budgets.
  • Visa announced its mobile payment platform, allowing cardholders to use their mobile phones to make purchases or conduct other transactions by tapping them against readers. Think 'just in time' fundraising.

But what's the ROI for mobile marketers - such as advocacy organizations?

Everyone agrees, the medium is young, it is risky when poorly done, and it'll take time to judge payoffs.  MobileActive's research of existing campaigns shows some interesting returns with sizeable opt-ins, and rather impressive open and forward rates for campaigns conducted by IFAW and Oxfam, for example.  We will be publishing more details from specific campaigns in the next MobileActive Guide on Mobile Advocacy.

While a lot of metrics are still elusive, Brandweek reports about a commercial campaign:  For the "Everydayrocks" text initiative, some 13,000 people opted in. And more than 75% of the entrants responded to SMS messages from the brand and/or redeemed mobile coupons. Only 4.8% opted out. Most telling, however, was that mobile emerged as the conduit with the best market reach; mobile outperformed radio by more than 64% and billboards by 24%. Overall, the mobile redemption rate was 28%, making it by far the most effective component."

We have seen positive other PR as well - a clever campaign, especially one that goes viral, will get earned media coverage and word-of-mouth exposure

What are advocacy organizations concerned about?

According to Brandweek, there still is considerable "consumer resistance, the main reason behind the carriers' historic refusal to open the gates to ad content."  Brandweek goes on: "Studies have shown that consumers are less than thrilled with the idea of receiving ads on their cells. While early adopter teens are among the biggest targets, three-quarters of cell phone users ages 10 to 18 said they do not think it's OK to be marketed to on a mobile device, according to a study of 2,000 users conducted by Weekly Reader Research, Stamford, Conn., on Brandweek's behalf. Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., found 79% of consumers are turned off by the idea of ads on their phones and a mere 3% of respondents said they trust text ads."

There are now strict guidelines, drafted by the Mobile Marketing Association, on opt-in and opt out procedures.  

It's my phone!  Be scrupulous about your opt-in practices, absolutely meticulous in following the mobile marketing code of ethics, and make your vendors follow them to the T.  Your brand is at stake, and people will get very annoyed if they perceive you spamming them.

But this is not stopping mobile marketers who are chomping at the bit.  

So, what do we know about effective mobile marketing?

Can we talk?
1. Mobile messaging should be about interaction, do not just pitch. A hard notion for advocacy organizations used to pushing email messages by the millions.  Mobiles offer a unique opportunity for interaction. Advocacy organizations need to think about mobile marketing as a conversation, a way to interact two-ways with their constituents.
2. Trust is key here as the mobile medium is so very personal.  Gain permission and offer relevant and timely content.
3. Pull people to mobile interaction through other media -- ads, billboards, the web and offer, in turn, mobile interaction with those media.  
4. Be careful about targeting your demographics and make your ask accordingly -- asking an older constituency to upload mobile photos is probably not going to be very successful.
5. Be relevant.  Offer timely news and functional updates that are of interest to your audience-- and be clever. Just by way of an idea: The American Lung Association could offer air quality updates via sms for where I live, for example.  In Amnesty's case, I would like to know how many others are signing the petition and how it's going -- what are others saying and how successful is the campaign? Send me an sms with an update since signing on -- I have not heard a lick from Amnesty since I signed the petition two days ago.
6. Mobile marketing works best when it's pull, not push, and there is an opportunity for people to express themselves - to 'talk' back, to suggest, to respond.  Humor works here!
7. Be multi-media.  Integrate your mobile marketing and messaging into your entire media and messaging campaing; do not let mobile be an add-on - it shows, and it costs you if not done well.

This is a world that is rapidly evolving.  Bandwith and technology improving al the time, we will see Internet- and TV-style ads, search, and much more branded content.  

For advocacy organizations, mobile marketing is used most effectively for facilitating a dialogue with their constituents.  This 'third screen' can create extended conversation, creating connections across online and traditional media exposures.

So what should Amnesty have done better here?

1. Do no ask me for my email to sign the petition, let me do it via sms.
2. Show what people are saying on the petition via sms, in real time on the blog, in ads, in public interest announcements -- in your other media campaign.
3. Tell me back how it is going -- what other people are saying, what is happening.
4. Communicate regularly with me VIA text, BUT remind me of how to opt out.
5. Ask me to forward a note, ask me to make a call, ask me to express myself in a some way in a poll, in a 160 character message, poem or statement.
6. Use humour, allow for humour -- it may be gallows humour in the case of Gitmo, but hey...

Overall: engage me, and do not let me feel that I am sinking in your typical advocacy 'push' hole that benefits you organizationally, but in the end has no impact on the issue, nor engages me in any way.  

In the end, because mobiles are so personal, there is a huge opportunity for a conversation that few advocacy organizations used to messaging OUT have any idea how to do effectively.  Mobiles are very much a read/write medium in the web 2.0 fashion and only those organizations willing to hear back and engage in 'it's the conversation, stupid' will end up running catchy, creative, engaging, and innovative mobile campaigns.

Mobile Technology for Community Health in Ghana

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Apr 15, 2011
Mobile Technology for Community Health in Ghana data sheet 1722 Views
Grameen Foundation
Publication Date: 
Mar 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Grameen Foundation’s experience of designing and implementing a mobile health program in Ghana can provide insights for the broader field and specific projects that are in early phases of planning and implementation. A fundamental tenet of Grameen Foundation’s work is to share information broadly, from program designs to management plans to source code to lessons learned - both successes andfailures. To that end, this document is intended to provide:

1) A comprehensive overview of the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) project in Ghana and how it works.

2) An insight into strategic decisions and design approaches made by the project team throughout the course of the implementation.

3) Information on lessons learned during the project and implications of decisions on future scale.

The Mobile Minute: 90% of the World Has Access to Mobile Networks, Mobile Banking in the Philippines, and more

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 28, 2010

The Mobile Minute has info on social networking via mobiles, interactive mobile lesson plans in South Africa, a new ITU study that estimates more than 90% of the world's population has access to mobile networks, the Red Cross' work to battle a cholera outbreak in Haiti with SMS health updates, and the launch of a mobile money transfer pilot in the Philippines. 

Mobile Activism or Mobile Hype?

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 09, 2010
Mobile Activism or Mobile Hype? data sheet 2341 Views
Firoze Manji
Publication Date: 
Jan 2008
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Based on two experiences using mobile phones in Africa to address women’s rights and social development, the author tries to understand whether mobile technology will bring social progress to the economically poor of Africa.

The author first examines mobile phone use in the campaign for the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, adopted by the African Union (AU)in 2003 and in need of ratification by 15 countries. The technical barriers to message transmission in the campaign and the message spamming that it attracted inhibited the success of this particular application of mobile technology but did not reduce the campaign effectiveness because the uniqueness of the cell phone campaign strategy drew a large amount of publicity for ratification.

In the second example, the UmNyango Project intended to promote and protect the rights of rural women in the province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa, from domestic violence against women and landlessness amongst women. The project created "an SMS gateway through which messages could be distributed to all those enrolled in the project, and it enabled every individual to send messages to the organisers and to the local paralegal officers where they needed assistance with regard to any incidence of violence or threat to their access to land....In practice, the project found SMS to be prohibitively expensive, despite the fact that some level of subsidy was provided by the project towards the cost of SMS." The author states that, "Mobile phones, after all the hype, are like pencils, tools for communication.... Like all technologies, tools do not themselves do anything." He uses the example of SMS hate mail messages to support the position that effects of technology result from the underlying values and morals of its developers, not from the tools themselves, and concludes: "In capitalist societies, all technologies have the potential for magnifying and amplifying social differentiation. It is only through the imposition of the democratic will of citizens can this inherent tendency of technologies be overcome."

Every Child into School by 2010: 1Goal, the World Cup, and SMS

Posted by PenelopeChester on Jun 29, 2010

Every four years, the world’s biggest sporting event captures the attention of football aficionados. The FIFA World Cup is more than just a soccer competition, though. For host countries such as South Africa, the tournament represents a chance to showcase the nation’s treasures, attract investments, and beguile tourists. For the creators of the 1Goal campaign, the World Cup offers a unique opportunity to develop the organization's largest-ever cause-related campaign. 1Goal, which is backed by FIFA, seeks to get every child into school by 2015. 

1Goal was founded by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a coalition of more than 100 organizations from over 100 countries that has been coordinating advocacy, research and lobbying activities to end what GCE refers to as “the global education crisis.” The 1Goal campaign also benefits from serious star power, with co-chairs Queen Rania of Jordan, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lending their weight and global profile to the campaign. 

Mobile Done Right: Reform Immigration FOR America Mobile Campaign

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Jun 16, 2010

Back in January, we covered two organizations that use mobiles for raising awareness of immigration issues. At the Mobilize Your Cause Bootcamp, held June 2 in New York City, Nicola Wells and Rachel LaBruyere gave a presentation about how Reform Immigration FOR America and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement coalition built a sizable and effective SMS campaign. Watch a video of their presentation below to see an example of how to pull off a successful, large-scale mobile campaign.

In part one of the videos, Wells explains how the organization initially became interested in mobile campaigning and organizing, and describes the three goals they had for a mobile community and list:

Mobile Done Right: Reform Immigration FOR America Mobile Campaign data sheet 4368 Views
Countries: United States

Souktel Aidlink - Simple SMS Alerts and Surveys for the NGO Community

Posted by souktel on Nov 12, 2009
Souktel Aidlink - Simple SMS Alerts and Surveys for the NGO Community data sheet 7246 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Mohammed Kilany, Jacob Korenblum
Problem or Need: 

In developing countries and crisis zones, the right information can save lives--if it can be gathered and shared quickly. Mobile devices can help, but most low-income communities still rely on basic first-generation phones--not iPhones or PDAs. When roads are damaged, shipping advanced handsets into hard-hit areas can be difficult and time-consuming.

Even when the right technology is available, sharing data between field sites and head offices is also tough: Messaging software and incoming responses are often limited to a single computer in the field.

To address these challenges, Souktel has created alert and survey software that uses basic text messaging to send/receive information between multiple locations. Hosted remotely, the "AidLink" software platform can be accessed locally via SMS on any basic cell phone--enabling any community member to get information, submit data, or receive news. AidLink can also be managed via web and SMS simultaneously, so that NGO staff in head offices and field sites can run campaigns together. 

Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

Our solution is simple, and designed so that field workers and community members can manage the software directly:

Aidlink Alerts - Send Messages in 4 Easy Steps:

1) From any mobile phone (or a secure web panel), create SMS “mailing lists” of community member/field staff phone numbers.
2) Segment your phone number “mailing lists” according to specific criteria: location, age, gender, or more. Give each mailing list its own numeric code.
3) On your phone (or online), create an alert message (eg. “Reminder: Training today at 3 pm”).
4) Send SMS alert to thousands of community members at once, or just to specific
groups, by entering the codes of the "mailing lists" you'd like to reach.

Aidlink Surveys - Gather Basic Data in 4 Easy Steps

1) On a secure web panel, create your SMS survey: a sequence of short questions that can be sent out via text-message.
2) Send an SMS “alert” (see above) to thousands of registered users—or a small group of people—inviting them to answer the survey questions.
3) Users “text” their answers to the questions, one at a time.
4) Survey results appear directly in a secure online database, for quick analysis and response. Easily exportable to Excel/SAS/SPSS.

Tool Category: 
App resides and runs on a server
Is a web-based application/web service
Key Features : 

What makes Souktel "AidLink" unique?

  • It can be managed online or by SMS from a mobile handset--so people in different locations can all use it together. Not tied to a single computer and handset.
  • It's SMS-based, so it works on any basic phone handset. 
  • It's connected directly to national mobile network gateways, so partners can send thousands of messages instantly without problems. No USB modems required!
  • It's custom-built to meet specific project needs: We work directly with partners to integrate apps into your website, your project activities, and your community.
  • It's developed by people in crisis zones, for people in crisis zones: All apps are created in Palestine for use in Gaza, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and other hard-to-access regions. 
  • It's deliberately designed for Arabic-script languages like Standard Arabic, Urdu, Kurdish and Farsi (but all apps work in English script too).
Main Services: 
Bulk SMS
Voting, Data Collection, Surveys, and Polling
Mobile Social Network/Peer-to-peer
Information Resources/Information Databases
Display tool in profile: 
Tool Maturity: 
Currently deployed
All phones -- SMS
Program/Code Language: 
Organizations Using the Tool: 

Red Cross/Red Crescent - West Bank/Gaza (

UN-OCHA - West Bank/Gaza (

Mercy Corps - Gaza, Iraq (

EDC Inc. - Somalia, Sudan (

Near East Foundation - Morocco (

AED Inc. - West Bank/Gaza (

CHF International - West Bank/Gaza (

Relief International - Gaza ( more than 35 local community-based organizations, NGOs, and universities in countries across the Middle East and East Africa.

Number of Current End Users: 
Number of current beneficiaries: 
Languages supported: 
Arabic, Kurdish, English, French, Somali, Spanish
Handsets/devices supported: 
Works on any handset!
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
Is an API available to interface with your tool?: 

Texting for a Cleaner Planet: How Used Mobiles

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 20, 2009

On October 24th, 2009, more than 5200 events in 181 countries took place as part of a climate change awareness campaign. Planned by, this worldwide festival of events is a call to action.

In December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen with one critical goal in mind: to create a global treaty to curb carbon emissions. wants to ensure that the treaty is tough enough to enforce the changes necessary to lower atmospheric carbon levels.

The name comes from the level of acceptable carbon dioxide –350 parts per million – that can exist in the atmosphere before effects of global warming begin to manifest. Currently, the carbon levels in the atmosphere are at 390 parts per million; believes that lowering the carbon emissions in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million can help undo some of the damage caused by global warming.

NEW: A Guide on How to Set Up an SMS System

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Oct 05, 2009

In our ongoing series of How-To Guides, here is the newest:  an overview on how to set up an SMS system. 

SMS is everywhere, in an amazing diversity of applications. From enabling 'instant protest' in the Philippines, Spain and Albania, to election monitoring in Ghana, Lebanon, and Sierra Leone to HIV/AIDS education and support in Mexico and South Africa, we've seen that 160 characters can make a difference. This article covers the basics of setting up an SMS campaign system, looking at different approaches to suit your goals, budget and technical expertise.

Read the full How-To Set Up an SMS System here.


Posted by PrabhasPokharel on Sep 15, 2009
Mobilisr data sheet 4192 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Peter Benjamin
Problem or Need: 

Currently NGOs have to rely on sometimes-expensive private-sector suppliers of mobile services such as bulk SMS, USSD, etc. Mobilisr allows organisations to manage their own multi-channel mobile communications.

Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

Mobilisr is an open source mobile messaging platform. It is a Web-based system that allows you to manage communications via mobile phone using a range of mobile technologies: broadcast SMS, interactive keyword SMS, SMS subscribe and unsubscribe, static USSD, and interactive USSD. Future releases will include interactive voice recording (IVR), location-based services, WAP and voicemail push (where a recorded voicemail is sent to people's phones).

Examples of how these can be used include: bulk SMSs sent to patients at an ARV clinic reminding them to take their medication; and interactive USSD used to gather patient feedback on service quality.

Mobilisr allows for tracking of 'campaigns', so you can monitor how many messages have been sent and to whom, which facilitates easier reporting.

Demo URL:
username: demo
password: demo

Tool Category: 
App resides and runs on a server
Is a web-based application/web service
Key Features : 

Mobilisr contains functionality to:

  • Build Campaigns (Campaigns are collections of content and services)
  • Design and Manage Content intended for different mobile channels
    • Bulk SMS, SMS Keyword Response, Keyword-based (Un)Subscription
    • Building of and deploying of USSD services
    • Deploying of IVR / VoiceMail based technology (to be developed)
    • Location-based services (to be developed)
  • Capture data through these various channels
  • Manage database of users, messages, and create reports

More details here

Main Services: 
Bulk SMS
Premium SMS and Billing
USSD Services
Display tool in profile: 
mobilisr screenshot of home page
Tool Maturity: 
Currently deployed
All phones -- SMS
All phones -- Voice
All phones -- USSD
All phones/Mobile Browser
Program/Code Language: 
Organizations Using the Tool: 

Treatment Action Campaign, Soul City, Positive Muslims, HIVAN, Caris

Number of Current End Users: 
Under 100
Number of current beneficiaries: 
Support Forums:
Languages supported: 
Handsets/devices supported: 
Server can be deployed on a java-enabled system. Or web app can be used with Cell-Life support.
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
Is an API available to interface with your tool?: 

Budgeting for Mobile Advocacy

Posted by admin on Jun 01, 2009
Budgeting for Mobile Advocacy data sheet 3317 Views
Tactical Tech

When your organisation decides to implement a project using mobile phones it is important to compare the cost of the project with the potential benefits it might bring.

If you prepare a budget and analyse how investment in a mobile advocacy project compares to investing in alternative methods, it is easier to make changes to existing budget allocations or to raise new funds in order to set up the programme or to keep up with the costs of running it. You may need to calculate pricing models if the project needs to sustain itself or generate revenues for the organisation.

Some reasons for investing in using mobile phones to support advocacy:

  • The increasing number of phones in use and greater reach of mobile technology has made it easier to reach bigger audiences more quickly and inexpensively than before.
  • Mobile phone networks cover many rural communities, and the use of mobile technology as an advocacy medium makes it possible to reach people in areas where traditional advocacy methods such as printed media weren't cost effective.

Budgeting for Mobile Advocacy is adopted from a How-To of Mobiles in-a-Box.


When your organisation decides to implement a project using mobile phones, it is important to consider the cost of the project versus the potential benefits it might bring.

If you prepare a budget and analyse how investment in a mobile advocacy project compares to investing in alternative methods, it is easier to make changes to existing budget allocations or to raise new funds in order to set up the programme or to keep up with the costs of running it. You may need to calculate pricing models if the project needs to sustain itself or generate revenues for the organisation.

Some reasons for investing in using mobile phones to support advocacy:

Mobiles in Advocacy Redux -- Tips and Advice

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jan 27, 2009

Allyson Kapin from Women Who Tech asked me to respond to some excellent questions about mobile campaigns for advocating for specific social issues.  As I just received two  text messages from NARAL and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America promoting two campaigns they are running, I thought I take the opportunity to answer Allyson's questions publicly, drawing on my experience and observations of the last few years of mobiles in advocacy, illustrating what works and what is better avoided in using mobiles in advocacy campaigns.  This is, by nature of the question, somewhat US-centric.  A follow-up article will focus on mobile campaigning in the Global South to differentiate some of the key issues. 

How can integrating mobile technology benefit online advocacy campaigns?

Low-Cost and Low-Barrier: Five (Grassroots) Ways to Get Started with Mobile

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 19, 2008

What does it take for smaller organizations to adde a mobile strategy to advance the work?  What are some ways in which small organizations can get started in mobile, and get what they need for free or at very low cost to try the mobile medium for their work?

We were recently at the Institute for Nonprofits organized by the Bay Area Video Coalition to help a select group of organizations develop their social media strategy.

Lots of the groups at BAVC were interested in exploring how mobile phones fit into their work. Many work with constituents of color and lower-income communities in America that are more likely to be on a mobile than on the web. And of course, this is true around the world already. 

In that same vain, a reader asked recently: "How can I get started in mobile?" He wrote:

Text Messaging to Save Trees

Posted by CorinneRamey on May 13, 2008

Mobile phones are nothing new for Greenpeace Argentina. The organization has used mobile phones multiple times to mobilize its now 350,000 person-strong mobile list to successfully lobby for important environmental legislation. One of Greenpeace's significant accomplishments was the passage of the Ley de Bosques, or Forest Law.

According to a recently UN/Vodaphone report, Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in NGO Mobile Use, before the law was passed forests in Argentina were being quickly destroyed. From the report:

Every hour, trees covering an area the size of forty soccer fields are cleared from the old growth forests of Argentina, home to indigenous tribes and numerous endangered species. According to Greenpeace, 300,000 hectares (3,000 square kilometers or 1,150 square miles) of native forest are cleared in Argentina each year.

Subversive Politics via SMS in Iran

Posted by CorinneRamey on Jan 23, 2008

Have you heard the joke about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? If you're a young person in Iran you probably have. Political jokes are spreading like wildfire in Iran, reports Parisa Dezfoulian in an article on texting in Iran in Middle East Online.

According to Desfoulian, SMS has become a way for young people to circumvent authority, largely through the spread of political jokes on subjects from nuclear energy to petrol bans to government rationing. She notes that with more than 20 million SMS messages sent every day in Iran,

The US Election '08: How Are The Candidates Going Mobile?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jan 18, 2008

Political ringtones, wallpapers, and SMS election updates are part and parcel of election campaigns in countries around the world -- from Spain to Kenya to the Phillipines, from Argentina to the Ukraine. It is has taken until this year's presidential election, however, for political contenders the United States to catch up.

image of cellphone

Peer-to-Peer Mobile -- Subversive and Effective?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 12, 2007

MobileActive friend and colleague Anders Carlius runs Terranet, an innovative company providing mobile peer-to-peer technology. Anders is a former businessman from Sweden who decided he wanted to do good in the world with a new venture after a career in telecommunications. His company is after an emerging market in developing countries with either a rural or densely populated market (such as a refugee camp, for exaple).

The technology is simple: Terranet outfits a special Erricson phone with peer-to-peer wireless networking ability. In its pure form, there is no need for base stations, antenna installations or infrastructure. With this phone, a user can call and text anyone at no cost within two kilometers, or up to 20 kilometres in a mesh network. Through TerraNet wireless Internet access point, the phone turns into a normal wireless communication device.

From Terranet's prospectus:


Let's Talk About Sex, Baby: Sexual Health Info via SMS

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jul 22, 2007

Sexual education is entering the mobile age. In Singapore, famous "Dr Love" offer answers to sex-related questions to the predominatly Muslim population via mobile phone. Half-way around the world, SexInfo doles out sexual health info to teens in 160 characters on the Unites States West Coast, and similar services operate in London and in Australia. 


In Singapore, according to the Age:

Indonesians are invited to send a text message with any sex-related question to a panel of volunteer local doctors who will either send them a message back or use their question to help compile information on a website.

The brains behind the idea, Wei Siang Yu, who is nicknamed "Dr. Love" for his flamboyant methods of teaching Singaporeans about sex, told a press briefing his scheme would turn conventional sex education on its head.


Sending Out an SOS: LiveEarth's Ambitious SMS Campaign

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jul 07, 2007

LiveEarth, the global music event taking place today, is launching one of the most ambitious mobile campaigns in its effort to organize people worldwide on climate change.

Live Earth is broadcast to more than two billion people with concerts in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, and Hamburg.

Concert goers and those watching online and on television in four countries will be able to 'answer the call' via sms by texting in a key word in one of six issue areas, pledging to change their behavior to save the earth from climate destruction. Keywords such as home, job, shop, ride, share, and lead can be texted in to short code 82004 in the Unites States and UK, to 70707 in Germany, and 199 66 777 in Australia.


Speed of Wordwide SMS Campaigns Quickening, As Is Backlash

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jun 11, 2007

Protest campaigns in recent weeks in China and Pakistan are pointing to a quickening pace of social activism primarily enabled by mobile phones.

On May 31, 2007, authorities in Xiamen halted construction of a large petro-chemical plant, following a furious Internet, street, and text campaign.  The story began on a few local blogs, spread wide on the Internet with sites like, and street graffiti.  

On March 25, according to news reports in the Asia Sentinel, Sydney Morning Herald and others, a text message began circulating:


SMS marketing -- Txt for the early bird?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on May 09, 2007

Nonprofits the world over are trying to tackle sms marketing.  Whether it's list building, earned media, or fundraising, text messaging or sms is all the rage. 

Mixing Storytelling and SMS

Posted by Bonnie Bogle on Aug 27, 2006

Recently YouthNoise and Virgin Mobile launched a mobile campaign designed to raise awareness of teen homelessness in other teens in the United States. The campaign – called Ghost Town – takes a unique twist on more typical SMS campaigns. It gets its message out through an SMS story sent in regular installments over a month.  

Teens can subscribe to the story by texting GHOST to the short code 1234. After that they’ll receive a chapter of the story in a 160 character text message twice a day for a month. Sounds like a mobile soap opera, doesn’t it?

SMS Campaigns Taking Off

Posted by Bonnie Bogle on May 02, 2006

SMS campaigns are becoming common in many parts of the world, but perhaps no where so much as in India. Every couple days it seems like a new campaign has been started and is getting coverage in the Indian online newspapers.

On the heels of the Justice for Jessica SMS campaign that received significant press coverage in India and abroad, a campaign has been started seeking justice for a woman in Patna, India. Text messages asking people to forward the message on to friends and to the head of police showing their support for a woman who says she was sexually exploited by a police officer. 

A political candidate in West Bengal, India, is sending text messages to reach out to urban and semi-urban citizens to ask for their vote in an upcoming election. Text messages are being circulated in Madhya Pradesh, India,asking people to conserve water. In several parts of India SMS campaigns are urging parents to send young children to schools that teach in their native language, rather than in English. And university students started a campaign for the quick recovery of Pramod Mahajan, an Indian politician who was recently shot several times.

SMS Campaign in India: Jessica Lal, An Update

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 31, 2006

The SMS petition campaign for justice in the Jessica Lal murder case that we wrote about here wrapped up last week with more than 200,000 SMS signatures (previous links no longer active). On air the 24-hour news station NDTV solicited their viewers – mostly middle class and mobile phone owners - to send a text message to the station protesting the injustice they saw in the acquittal of all nine men accused in the fashion model's murder in a crowded bar. These text messages, treated like signatures on a petition, were promised to be sent to the president to show the nation's outrage in what they saw as government corruption and a police cover up.

NDTV's managing editor said, "That just goes to show you technology has changed the face of mobilization completely. Because if this were like ten years ago and you were going door to door collecting signatures, which would have been its equivalent, it would have taken you many more logistics, just an army of volunteers. You didn't need any of that. You needed one rallying point on television."

Save the Seals: SMS "Ban It"

Posted by justinoberman on Mar 28, 2006

sealtxt Who would not want to save this guy?

As the seal hunting season opens, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is launching a major campaign at and on cell phones all across the UK.

Starting yesterday, IFAW launched advertisements, like the one showed above, in the Sunday Mirror and has already received well over 10, 000 responses which, according to Jed Alpert, CEO of Politxt (the political arm of his Rights-Group media) the company responsible for the back end technology of the campaign, is a very sizeable response rate for a newspaper ad. IFAW will be displaying the add in various UK newspapers throughout the week and will be putting them up in the London tube some time in early April.  In the UK, send the text message "Ban It" to the short code 60123.

More on the story is at Personal Democracy.