When should you use text messaging as part of an audience response system?

Audience response systems are one of many vital components to town hall meetings and corporate events, especially today. In fact, it is commonly believed that this is the absolute best way to increase engagement and get feedback from your audience. ARS systems are one type of wireless equipment that can be used to collect feedback, such as on web polls. These systems can also be used for a variety of other real-time response data collection such as; dial-testing, perception analysis, an audience response meter and more. However, many events and town hall meetings are using a text messaging system as part of audience response instead of a complete ARS system. How does text messaging stack up to an ARS system?

Text messaging is low-cost, or sometimes free, for the audience attending a town hall meeting or corporate event. Text messaging is also a preferred method because almost everyone has a mobile phone, and 98% of mobile phones can send and receive text messages. On the other hand, ARS systems are fairly pricey because you need to buy the whole system with enough hardware to cover everyone in your audience to ensure everyone can participate.  

Another advantage to using text messaging is that it is easy. With ARS systems you need to coordinate with an onsite technician, and there are more things that can go wrong. With text messaging, the equipment everyone has, and it only relies on the mobile carriers to work. You also don’t need to worry about buying or renting additional equipment, which may or may not be readily available before your corporate event or town hall meeting.

With text messaging, you won’t need to explain to everyone at your event or meeting how to use their phone. On the other hand, with an ARS system, you will likely need to go through a 5 to 8 minute introductory speech so that everyone knows how to operate the additional equipment. It’s also important to note the range of an ARS system might actually not be enough to get your whole audience, especially at larger events and meetings. Whereas, as long as there is a signal, people will always be able to text.

It’s not hard to imagine how using text messaging can increase audience responsiveness. Almost everyone has a cell phone, and the majority of those text on a regular basis.

There is no question that ARS systems are exceptional for town hall meetings or corporate events, however, text messaging is becoming more popular due to its ease of use, price and compatibility with the audience.

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