Wouldn’t you love to be able to reach your customers on their phone? Lots of companies are paying services to reach customers via text messages sent to their phones. But you can do it for free—using Twitter! The best part, your customers don’t even need to have a Twitter account.
There’s a little-known feature that Twitter introduced in August, called Fast Follow. Fast Follow allows people to follow a Twitter account just by texting a message from their phone. The best part, you don’t have to have a Twitter account to follow someone. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, using Fast Follow you can still get a Twitter user’s tweets as text messages on your phone.
How do you follow without a Twitter account?
From your mobile phone, text:
Text the message to 40404. You’ll start receiving tweets from the account almost immediately. Note that the Twitter account needs to be a public account. In my testing, private accounts didn’t work.
Users can easily unfollow the account by texting STOP [username] to 40404.
How can businesses use this?
Let’s say that your business sells tickets to events. You want to let customers sign up to receive text updates as soon as tickets to the latest event become available. You create an account on Twitter for the sole purpose of tweeting event notices when tickets become available, calling it EventsNow. On your website’s Upcoming Events page, just provide instructions to users telling them to text FOLLOW EventsNow to 40404, in order to receive word as soon as tickets are available.
From your EventsNow account, simply tweet a message as soon as a tickets for a new event become are available. Include a link to your website where the user can buy tickets. Instant connection, instant traffic!
Benefits and Drawbacks
There are benefits and drawbacks to this approach. On the one hand, you don’t get the user’s phone number or other contact information. You can’t add them to your contact database. You also don’t know how many people are following you, as Fast Followers don’t show up on your Twitter follower list.
Also, you need to implement this kind of messaging carefully so that users get only the information they want. While it’s great that you can reach your users through texts for free, this is obviously a feature that can be abused. Doing it the wrong way, such as sending users promotional messages in addition to the updates, will have negative consequences. Your users will unfollow you.
On the plus side, this is a completely opt-in approach. Users choose to follow your Twitter account because they want the information you’ve offered. You can include links to your site, where you have the opportunity to message and convert users. Best of all, it’s free and requires very little effort on your part to implement.
To help you implement Fast Follow correctly, I’ve put together some instructions and guidelines. They’ll help you use Fast Follow in a way that retains these users, and makes the most of the opportunity to reach them. You can find the guidelines here. And while you’re at it, please consider subscribing to my blog for more clever tips and tricks!
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