How do I make a text message-based mailing list?
December 31, 2011 5:17 PM   Subscribe

I want to set up a mailing list of sorts, but with text messages instead of emails. What's a system like this called, and how do I do it?

I'm organizing an event and want to send occasional text messages to a (potentially large, maybe in the hundreds) group of volunteers and supporters. Of course, I don't want to send messages to this many folks manually, and I want them to be able to subscribe and unsubscribe at will, without my assistance.

If this were email-based, you'd type your email address into a form or send a message that says "subscribe" to a robot and you'd start getting emails . To unsubscribe, you'd send a message that says "unsubscribe" to the robot and you'd stop getting messages. Easy peasy.

Can this sort of thing be done with text messages? What's it called (i.e. what keywords do I search to learn more)? Can it be done inexpensively? How hard is it to set up? Have you done something similar - what were your experiences?

posted by fracas to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Also, it would be great if I could message the list from MY phone, but that's not strictly necessary.

Similarly, it would be great if volunteers could contact ONLY ME through the system (e.g. if they have a question), but again, that's not strictly necessary.

posted by fracas at 5:36 PM on December 31, 2011

SMS services
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 PM on December 31, 2011

You're thinking of text message marketing with short codes.
posted by rhapsodie at 5:43 PM on December 31, 2011

posted by caclwmr4 at 6:59 PM on December 31, 2011

This was actually the original idea behind Twitter, and why it's limited to 140 characters per Tweet.

Set up a Twitter account, ask the volunteers to both Follow that account and flag it to receive mobile notifications any time you tweet. The volunteers will need Twitter accounts, and need to enable mobile notifications on their account.

See for more info.
posted by FfejL at 7:35 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]
-There is a great app for Android + Google Voice called Group SMS Pro which allows you to send to large group using a mail-merge type feature (ie. Dear [NAME], Enjoy this text)
posted by allfortheBoss at 8:29 PM on December 31, 2011

Wow, thanks everyone — you're fantastic! Hive Mind FTW!
posted by fracas at 9:29 AM on January 3, 2012

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