Text Messaging Tool

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Want to take texting to the next level? Check out the texting capabilities of the New Message Tool! You can schedule texts to send in the future (hello, day off!), it honors text message opt-out preferences, and you can use templates to pre-write approve texts. Sounds like a winner to us!
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 fixed limit to the number of texts that can be sent at one time, but you should review the Large Selections section below.
  • 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.

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

Update Platform Configurations:

  1. ​​Go to Administration > Configuration Settings
  2. Update the following CORETOOLS 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. The values for SID and Token can be found in your Twilio Dashboard. Note there are also COMMON and MOBILETOOLS Configuration Settings related to Twilio that you may want to update as well.
    • 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).

Once you have configured your Twilio account, use the Core Tools Management Tool to have the Configuration Setting updates take effect immediately.

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.

Large Selections
  • Sending too many at one time can result in a time-out from the platform api
  • Sending too many at one time can result in a time-out from the twilio api
  • The twilio api has an upper limit of 14,400 message segments
  • The twilio api has a limited queue of 4 hours of message segments (based on the sending rate for the phone number type)
  • Due to these potential limits, it is best to attempt smaller selections
  • Long codes are turned off by Sprint if they see 200+ of the same message in one day
Troubleshooting

Sending links in your text message will likely get your text message filtered and blocked.

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. Keep the window open until all of the text messages have been sent, closing the Tool prematurely will require the process to be restarted.
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.

When changing Configuration Settings 

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