Note: Our ongoing blog series about SMS use cases are inspired from inquiries we’re getting from clients asking about how text messaging can be best used during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our sincere hope that your organization is already using SMS to communicate. If so, we hope these posts provide you with helpful information on the ways to best use text messaging during these times.

In a follow up to our post “5 Ways Text Messaging Can Help Public Health Departments Manage Coronavirus,” we want to provide public health departments (or any organizations offering helpful services to their communities) with a list of tips and ideas to apply to their existing text messaging service or in starting a new one. 

With all but one state now reporting coronavirus cases and government officials ramping up efforts to respond proactively, your public health team has been strategizing ways to help individuals in your area stay safe. As the media wrestles with public trust as coronavirus intensifies, it is more important to create direct lines of communication with the public. 

Text messaging allows you to communicate directly, at a moment’s notice, with the public while also collecting important data and monitoring individuals’ symptoms. Here are five ways to get your text messaging software up and running during this precarious time:

Determine How You Want to Utilize Texting

Determine how your public health department wants to use text messaging:

  • Use it only for communicating the latest news and recommendations about the virus, and/or
  • Set up SMS surveys, quarantine support or symptom hotlines via text.

Prepare Valuable Content

Prepare valuable content ahead of time by determining exactly what you will cover. 

  • Keep each communication brief and to the point. 
  • Type out the message first to ensure that it is what you want to say before copying and pasting it into the system. 
  • Reminder: Many people can only receive texts that are 160 characters or less, try not to break texts into multiple messages. You can use the Mosio character counter to check before sending.

Staff for Appropriate Coverage

  • Prepare your team for the new software. Put someone in charge of managing the system, and be sure that you have backup plans if that person is unable to work. In addition, if you use your texting system for more than one service, such as for surveys as well as TextChat messages, you will want to put separate teams in charge of each service.

Promote the New Service

Of course, even the best texting service is useless if no one knows about it. That is why it is vital to get the word out quickly. 

  • Advertise through media when applicable.
  • Showcase on your website. 
  • Instruct new users to sign up by texting a code to the number, and let them know that they can choose to opt out whenever they wish.

Get Set up Quickly

It is important to get your texting capabilities set up quickly to deal with the rapid spread of coronavirus throughout your community. If you are already using a text messaging service for public health, we hope the above tips provide you with some additional information about how you can better leverage that service. The good news is that you’re already up and running.

If you’re not using a texting service yet, Mosio can help you get started, contact us today to discuss software options and to find out how we can help your public health department.