Why is text messaging so powerful?

Why use text messages?

Text messages are the best way to reach the widest range of people on their own terms.

They are the most welcoming way of communicating with people. Most people have a mobile phone with them all the time (in 2007 Ofcom reported that 90% of UK adults had a mobile including 50% of over 75s) and most people send texts.

This means that if you give people chance to communicate with you by text, they always have a way to take part, wherever they are. So for example you can use beer mats in pubs or posters at bus stops to reach people who might never have got involved otherwise.

Posters at bus stops asking "Where were you happiest to arrive and why?" 400 people replied by text.

Text messages have become such a common part of our everyday lives that no one is put off by writing a text - there is no pressure to spell correctly, to write a lot, or to talk in official jargon, so people will take part who wouldn't take part any other way. A text is the smallest and easiest first step people can take to getting involved.

Poet Ann Sansom ran a text message poetry workshop in Armley Prison in Leeds and found that men who were described as illiterate were happy to do creative writing when she told them they would be writing text messages.

Texts are a very personal and direct form of communication, and most of the text messages we send and receive in our everyday lives are to close family and friends. This means people will often be very honest in a text message, and say what they need to say, not what they think they should say, even if they would never say those things out loud.

As Mike, a member of a community group in Salford, put it "In a group, people are mindful of what they are going to say in public, but when it's just you and a phone you can be a bit more open." This anonymity is different from social media web sites like Facebook and Twitter, in which contributions are linked to a personal profile.

Here are some of the messages that were sent by people reading the posters at bus stops pictured above, each person has answered the question "Where were you happiest to arrive and why?" in the way that is important to them:

"I am always happiest to arrive somewhere when i am late and it turns out that everyone else is late as well, especially on a sunny day!"

"picadilly is my best, because i found the love of my life there. Ten years strong. By jim of salford."

"getting the bus to the hospital in time to see my brother before he died he was only 19"

Text messages are the best way to reach the widest range of people on their own terms.

Find a page