Home > Communications 2.0, Marketing 2.0, PR 2.0 > Twitter Fast Follow for Crisis Communications?

Twitter Fast Follow for Crisis Communications?

October 14, 2010

In August Twitter announced Fast Follow, a new way for citizens to subscribe to Tweets via SMS even if they don’t have a Twitter account. 

 Could cities, and businesses save or earn big money using Twitter as their mobile alerting/”Call” Tree platform?

For example, if I text “follow StPeteFL” to 40404 I will start receiving every Tweet from St. Petersburg, FL as a text message on my phone.

That’s possibly quicker and easier than subscribing to most city alert programs, which often require your name, email, etc to be entered online. And, people don’t even have to know what Twitter is or how to use it – huge considering roughly 75% of the US is not Tweeting.

In Twitter’s blog announcing Fast Follow, they used NotifyNYC as an example
Could cities save big money using Twitter as their mobile alerting platform?
Mobile alerting is expensive. From phone company to service providers fees, it costs anywhere between 1 to 3 cents per message, passed on to municipalities in the form of annual agreements ranging from $10,000 to over $100,000 per year. If you don’t have that kind of money to spend (or want to start saving it), here’s how I would use Twitter Fast Follow as an alternative:
 
Create a unique Twitter account that you’ll just use for alerts, for example “follow MtgmryCntyMD” The shorter the better. Don’t plan on using this for your other updates like “See our video on the parking lot ribbon cutting.” Use it sparingly when you have something important to say so you’re not text pestering.
  1. Promote the message “Text “follow MtgmryCntyMD” Alert to 40404′ to get emergency alerts from Montgomery County, MD.” Put up some signs, add it to your website, get the local news to cover it, whatever.
  2. Tweet your message from your new account to blast out an alert. Every subscriber will receive a text message when you do this by way of Twitter’s feathery magic.
What are the downsides?
  1. Reliability. If Twitter could harpoon the fail “ship” and keep their service online 99% of the time (putting it on par with traditional alerting companies), one could rest easier using Twitter to power crisis alerting.  Of course, I wouldn’t recommend it now for “shooter on campus” alerts where seconds make a difference, but it would be fine for weather warnings, major road closures, etc., but heck people could tweet from a crisis scenario if they are able to get a word out.
  2. Feature set. Alerting companies provide a lot of useful features like transmission reports, message templates, geotargeting, etc. This doesn’t exist yet for Twitter, but it could?
My thanks for the original post By Chris Bennett on Govloop.com.
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