What NOT to Text Students
We’ve learned quite a bit in our years as a company. From learning through trial-and-error to having our partners share their texting tips with us, the look and feel of what a “good” text message looks like has changed considerably over the past six years.
We’ve written a number of articles on what you should text students. We wrote an entire series of blog posts about admissions texting and how to move students through the admissions pipeline with the help of text messages. We’ve also covered what career services staff should be texting students. We even had one of our partners, Karen Serna from Austin Community College, chime in and offer her best text tips.
Something we haven’t talked about in a while?
What not to text students.
Let’s dive right in with five texting no-nos.
1. A bad (or no) introductory text
Abby: “…who are you?”
She poses a fair question. If this is the first message you sent to Abby, even if she gave you express permission to text her, she will likely have no idea who you are. As a result, you’ll be forced to take time out of your day and explain who you are and why you’re texting her.
It’s much easier to kick off your text campaigns with a thorough introductory text. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to address three components:
- Who you are (builds a rapport with students for all future messages)
- Why you’re texting (shows why students shouldn’t opt out)
- How to opt out (a legal requirement per the FCC)
Also, we suggest asking students to save your number to their phones so they’ll know who you are from that point forward. Once a solid introductory text is sent, your campaigns are well on their way to being successful.
2. Long texts
Now that was a mouthful.
Usually, it’s a good idea to keep texts short and sweet. Texting character limits are larger than ever, and it can be tempting to go deep into details to make sure you don’t forget anything. However, if your message box begins looking like a square more than a chat bubble, you probably have too much text.
Signal Vine’s texting platform makes it super easy to send messages, largely because you can do so from your computer. At the same time, it can be easy to get carried away since you’re typing texts on a computer. A good way to check if a message is too long is to whip out your phone and type it in with your phone’s keyboard. If you find that you’re still typing minutes later, your text is too long.
3. Email texts
Does this format seem familiar to you? It should, because it’s an email written in the form of a text.
This is usually a bad practice for several reasons. First, one of the best things about texts is that they’re not emails. Texting students messages that look like emails will likely come across to them as strange. This isn’t to say that you can’t be somewhat formal in your texts, but if you sent an introductory text similar to the one suggested above, there isn’t a need to repeat who you are. Regardless of your introductory text, there is never a need to include formal salutations and signatures in texts. Texting, being inherently more informal than an email, doesn’t require it.
4. Texts with too many abbreviations
This type of message used to be so cool back in the days of flip phones and phones that required you to scroll through letters using the number pad.
Those days are gone, however. Right around 81% of us have smartphones. Virtually all of today’s college students have smartphones. Around 96% of people ages 18-29 own a smartphone, while 92% of people ages 30-49 own one. It’s much too easy to type messages on smartphones, which has all but eliminated the need for so-called textspeak. This is especially true for students receiving information via text from their colleges. They expect a level of professionalism to it. Also, many students have openly stated that textspeak just isn’t cool anymore.
If your message is too long to send, you can break it up into two messages instead of using textspeak. It’s likely your students would rather see two well-composed messages than one with one abbreviation after another.
5. Texts that don’t use data
At first glance, the message above is fine.
The problem? It was sent to all students, regardless of what their data fields on the Signal Vine platform said.
The Signal Vine platform allows schools to connect their student data between Signal Vine and their systems at their institutions. Alternatively, staff can input the information manually. This makes it easier to target students with exactly the information they need.
What really makes your texts stand out is a level of personalization and targeting. The Signal Vine platform makes it easy to see which of your students need various nudges to complete certain steps. This makes it so only the students who need the information get it. It may also help combat unsubscribes to your text messages as students are only receiving information relevant to them.
You can learn more about texting dos and don’ts by visiting the Texting Best Practices section of our Resources page. Happy texting!
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