Text Messaging Tool

Basics

  • A Twilio account is required to use the Text Messaging Tool.
  • The Text Messaging Tool allows you to send an SMS text message with 160 characters to one or multiple records at a time. There is no limit to the number of texts that can be sent at one time.
  • The tool supports outbound texts only. If a recipient responds to your text message, the response will be logged in Twilio only and won't return to or update anything in MinistryPlatform. The original recipient is also texted an auto-response from Twilio (which you can configure via Twilio).
  • The tool can be setup with only one Twilio number.

Initial Setup

A SPoC must complete one-time initial setup in order to use the Text Messaging Tool.

  1. Setup a Twilio account for SMS.
    • The Text Messaging Tool supports use of one Twilio number. It's recommended that the number used with this tool be different from other numbers used with 3rd party applications such as text-to-give. As such, if you already have a Twilio account, you may need to purchase an additional number to use with this tool.
  2. Go to Administration > Configuration Settings and update the following Configuration Settings based on your Twilio account. When doing so, double-check that you have no trailing spaces in the Values of each Configuration Setting, as erroneous spaces can cause errors when using the tool.
    • TwilioSID: the Account SID (not the App SID).
    • TwilioTOKEN: the authorization token.
    • TwilioSMSNUMBER: your SMS numbers (input numbers only; this is the "From" SMS number).
  3. Use the Core Tools Management Tool to have the Configuration Setting updates take effect immediately.
  4. Grant user access to the tool via Security Roles. Remember: this tool is very powerful and there is no way to limit the number of text messages sent. As such, be wise about who receives access to this tool and be sure they're well-trained.

Troubleshooting

If after following the steps above, you are not receiving texts sent by the tool, first, double check each of the steps and values above to ensure no details were missed. If you're still not receiving texts (and the tool is not giving an error or warning), this indicates an issue with your Twilio account. See these troubleshooting articles - basic and advanced - from Twilio.

Managing Opt-Outs

There are several ways an individual can opt-out of receiving text messages:

  • My User Account: an individual can log into their Portal account and click the "Do not send me text messages" box on the My User Account page (which updates the Do Not Text field on their Contact record).
  • Contact record: a Platform user can update an individual's Contact record by setting the Do Not Text field to Yes.
  • Responding to a text: anytime an individual responds STOP, Twilio retains that opt-out request and does not allow future text messages to be sent to that phone number unless the individual replies START. Even if you initiate a text message to that person's phone number in the Platform, Twilio won't send the text message to them. Nothing is recorded in the Platform if an individual replies STOP, as that information is currently retained by Twilio. 
Note: The Text Message Tool will not automatically honor the Do Not Text field. If your selection contains a record that is set to Do Not Text=TRUE, the Text Message Tool will text them unless you remove them from your selection. It is the user's responsibility to trim-out individuals who do not want to receive texts. Only people who responded STOP to Twilio have their opt-out automatically honored; opt-outs recorded via the Platform or Portal must be manually honored by the user of the tool.

Sending Text Messages

  1. Launch the tool by either:
    • Open a Contact record > Tools > Text Messaging Tool (remember: before you send a text, it's recommended that you look at the Do Not Text field on their Contact record to see if they're opted-out. The tool will not automatically honor their opt-out), OR
    • Select Contacts > Tools > Text Messaging Tool (remember: it's wise to use the Trim Selection Tool to trim-out individuals who have opted-out of receiving texts. The tool will not automatically honor opt-outs, so it's recommended that you use the Trim Selection Tool before launching the Text Messaging Tool).
  2. Type your message directly into the SMS/Text Message field (do not copy/paste message from another program). You may insert links.
  3. Click Finished. Do this only once; the tool might pause for a few seconds while it's processing, and pushing Finished a second time causes a duplicate text to send.

Information Storage

Text messages sent via the Text Messaging Tool are stored:

  • On the Contact Log sub-page of the applicable Contact records, and
  • In Communications > Contact Log.

Note: Mobile Tools does not log text messages in the Contact Log.

Tips & Tricks

Want to see any text messages sent from the Platform?

You can see all text messages by going to Communications > Contact Log. You can see text messages by individual by going to the desired Contact record and looking at the Contact Log sub-page.

Want to do something custom with responses sent to Twilio?

You can work with Twilio to update the auto-response sent to people who respond to texts sent via the Text Messaging Tool. Also, you can work with a third party to create a custom web service that could do something more custom such as forward the message onto another number or auto-respond based on various criteria.

When changing Configuration Settings 

Use the Core Tools Management Tool to have the changes take effect immediately.

Is there something I can do from my standpoint that would help process large quantities of text messages faster? 

Twilio throttles things, so getting a Short Code can help to speed up Twilio's processing time.  You can also try to get a Twilio toll free number to speed things by up to three times faster.  For more information from Twilio regarding processing time please visit their Sending and Receiving Limitations on Calls and SMS Messages article. 

 

Last Modified: 8/7/2019

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