Most people don’t think of text messaging and school as two things that go hand-in-hand. But, when it comes to interaction between a school and the parents/guardians of students, texting is a great way to communicate effectively and efficiently.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the benefits of text messaging for schools, as well as the etiquette you should be using to make sure your texting strategy is a success.
Adults ages 35-44 (the most common for having school-aged children) send and receive around 52 text messages a day. Many younger adults believe that texting is just as meaningful as having an actual conversation. So, sending text messages to parents of children from the school can easily be seen as a responsible and formal way of communicating.
There are, of course, some best practices to keep in mind. It’s important to develop a strategy for sending mass text messages. But, with that strategy in place, you will have the ability to relay information to the people who need it most in a matter of minutes. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to get important information to parents and guardians quickly is essential. Instead of making them wait for an announcement on television or an email, you can take the reins as an administration and send out the exact message you want.
What Are the Benefits?
There are countless benefits when it comes to utilizing mass texts for your administration. In this world of fast, ever-changing information, your school has to be able to stay on top of communication. Texting is an effective, efficient, and affordable way to do that. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- The ability to reach parents quickly in an emergency situation
- Being able to communicate changes in scheduling, even at the last minute
- Keeping track of who is reading your messages and using that data for the future
Mass text messaging for schools can be used for a variety of different situations. That includes everything from announcing snow days to making substitute teacher requests. Messages can also be sent out as a sort of ‘rumor control’. There’s no denying that information can sometimes get out of hand in a school setting. Instead of having to send letters home with each child, you can personally send a text message to all parents and guardians in order to clear up any misunderstandings that are happening within the school.
Why not just send an email?
The reality is, there is a time and place for sending emails, and a time and place where texting is the better solution. Emails are often used for more formal announcements or conversations. They can be longer, more laid out, and more detailed. Text messages are used to relay important information immediately. So, the two platforms aren’t in competition with one another. But, if you only have a single announcement to make and you need to get it in the hands of everyone quickly, texting is the better option. Texting is normally about 10x more effective than email when it comes to ensuring messages are read.
What Should You Be Texting About?
When it comes to text message etiquette for schools, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind before you send out messages. Remember, you aren’t just sending a quick text to a friend or family member. When you are sending out information on behalf of your administration, you need to consider your audience, and how you can relay a lot of information in a short text message.
So, how should your mass texts differ from your everyday messages? Put these etiquette tips into practice before you send your first message:
- Never send confidential information. You have to understand that the information you’re sending out will not only be in front of the eyes of many, but it doesn’t go away. Once you have sent something via text, it can be saved forever.
- Don’t make your messages too complex. Again, texting should be used for short bursts of information, not long and detailed messages. If you have more to say, use a different platform.
- Include your name before you start your message. Not everyone you text is going to save your number or contact information, and they don’t want to have to guess. So, be sure to introduce yourself and the administration you represent before you begin each message. With our mass texting program, you can also create a template to use with each message, so people will become used to seeing how your messages look and will be more likely to read them.
- Write calls to action (CTAs) when necessary, especially if you need responses from parents about certain things. Include information on how to respond and who they should be getting in touch with.
- Send your messages at the right time. The proper thing to do is to send them during business hours. You never know how early someone goes to bed at night, or how early they might wake up. So, you don’t want to wake them when they’re trying to sleep or spend time with their family by causing their phone to alert them. By sending your messages during business hours, you’re showing respect, and you’ll likely have a better chance of more people seeing your message sooner. In fact, sending a message during certain hours is prohibited, unless someone has opted in (we’ll talk more about that later).
- Limit how often you send messages, unless absolutely necessary. Even if messages are relevant and important, no one wants to get bombarded every day. Space them out as much as possible so they remain informative, rather than repetitive.
- Personalize your texts whenever possible.
- Make sure to end your text message clearly with all of the information available. You don’t want anyone waiting for more information or a further response.
Finally, make sure you have some sort of ‘opt in’ program in place. While sending mass texts isn’t illegal, it can be heavily looked down on if you send a message to a parent or guardian and they have no idea about the program you’re using.
Most parents are more than willing to opt in for information about their child’s school and important announcements. Just make sure you have a clear way to sign up, and let them know what to expect from the texting program.
Best Practices for Making Sure Your Messages Are Read
Now that you know how to send messages properly and respectfully, you can start focusing on making sure your messages are read.
Sending messages during business hours, as stated above, is one of the best ways to increase readership and ‘opens’ on your messages. Sending them only when there is important information to share will also make them more enticing for parents. If you send a message every day with information that doesn’t matter to most people, your messages may start to get ignored. Some parents may even opt out.
So, the best way(s) to make sure your messages are getting read are to send them at the right time and to have something important to say. Stay focused on the students and how the message you’re sending relates to them. Not only will you keep parents more engaged, but you will also be seen as helpful and informative, rather than excessive and annoying.
Tweaking Your Tone Based on Data
One of the great things about using a mass texting program is the data you can collect from it. With Text-em-all’s easy to use software, you can see delivery results for your messages get on a regular basis.
From there, you can tweak your messages in several different ways. Maybe you get a better response rate when you send a message at a certain time of day. Or, maybe parents are more interested in announcements about upcoming meetings than rumor control. Whatever the case, you can use the data you collect to fine-tune your messages.
In doing so, you will help to ensure that more people read them, and more people are understanding the content to the fullest.
In this world of ever-changing technology, it’s important to stay on top of different forms of communication. Now, more than ever, staying in touch with one another and having a greater understanding of what’s going on in your child’s life can offer peace of mind.
Chances are, you have your phone nearby you most of the day. If you could get meaningful, important information sent directly to you without having to check emails, go to meetings, or read a letter that got sent home, wouldn’t that be easier? Parents think the same way, especially when they have so much on their plates already.
So, consider a mass text program for your school as a way to keep everyone in the know as much as possible. It is easier than you might think to get started. Before you know it, you will be sending meaningful messages that relate to your students, so parents can stay informed and up-to-date with the latest happenings within your administration. It’s easier on you, more convenient for them, and a win for the students.
More Messaging Etiquette Rules To Consider
Before you go off and kick start your school's text messaging campaign, it's important to remember the general text messaging etiquette and social norms that govern texting. In fact, most people probably do a fair bit of texting each day, and whether it's between a family member, close friend or anyone else, there are certain rules to consider.
You may even remember making a texting faux pas or two of your own in the past and how something like that could set your entire program off on the wrong foot. The good news is that as long as you create a plan and stick to it, it's easy to ensure that your text messaging etiquette is on point.
Don't Forget To Respond
If you're sending texts out, you should be prepared to get texts back. One-way conversations are no fun, and that extends itself over to the texting realm. If one side stops responding or refuses to respond, it can create feelings of resentment or animosity on the other, and that can work against the whole point of texting to build relationships in the first place.
Like the old golden rule, one of the most important text messaging etiquette guidelines is to treat those that you're sending texts to with the respect that you would expect. Respond if someone asks a question or reaches out -- it only takes a few seconds and it shows the person on the other end that you care.
Be Patient With Your Texting
Because everyone is so used to getting immediate responses to their texts, patience is quickly growing as one of the lost arts of text messaging etiquette. Some may demand replies within a few minutes or consider delayed responses rude, but know that not everyone is on the same schedule. On the other end, your recipients could be working, in class or otherwise occupied, and it's okay if you don't get a response right away or at all.
The beauty of texting is also its Achilles' heel. Texting is asynchronous and anyone can respond at any time, or not at all. Resist the urge to follow up unanswered texts with more texts -- that'll only further alienate your audience. If a textee is busy, they'll get back to you when they can. If they're not, then they're purposefully not responding, and more messages can damage the relationship.
Check Spelling and Grammar
Bad grammar or spelling is more than a text messaging etiquette rule, it can completely change the meaning of your message. Consider the difference between twenty five-dollar bills and twenty-five dollar bills ($75) or how their, they're and there can all change the impact of what you're trying to say, if not illustrate ignorance of the rules of grammar. It might work with a group of kids, but not with educators and teachers, and it also sends the wrong message to your kids.
Before sending each message, have it proofread for errors in spelling and punctuation, as well as meaning. If someone else can't immediately understand what you're saying, sending that same text en mass could be a disaster and cause a lot more cleanup work than you likely bargained for.
Don't Overuse Abbreviations
We get it. You can only fit a certain number of characters into a text. But that doesn't mean that you should be cramming abbreviations in one after the other in an attempt to maximize your texting space. Text messaging etiquette teaches us that you should only use abbreviations when they're clearly known to your audience. Texting isn't the time to introduce something new unless you want to spend your time explaining yourself.