With Text Messages, Brands and Creators Connect at Scale

New and inventive uses of text messaging in 2020

3 min readJan 4, 2021

In a year when nearly all means of communication went virtual, one medium stood out against the noise. Text messaging, a technology that’s been around for nearly 30 years, appeared in a number of new and inventive uses in 2020, even before the pandemic. What was once simple lines of text punched in with T9 (remember that?) has evolved into a vast language of emojis, reactions and images.

Unlike email inboxes, which can become crowded or social media, which is by definition an endless stream, text messages offer brands, individuals and even government organizations something unique: the opportunity to succinctly, directly communicate with an audience. That split second of attention that a message notification commands could be the thing that leads a user to take action. It’s a highly measurable tool, with just the right number of metrics so as to be meaningful, not overwhelming. Was the message opened? Did the recipient reply? For both sender and receiver, that straightforwardness can be refreshing.

In an election year, text messaging was a valuable tool for driving voter registration and outreach. It served a similar function for the Census Bureau, which had to pivot its strategy of knocking on doors when the virus hit. But the reach of text messaging goes beyond public service. Marketers have long recognized text messaging’s ability to break through the chatter of social media and the jumble of inboxes. But rather than using text message marketing as a means to merely spread information, brands use the medium to drive engagement and loyalty in a uniquely intimate way. One leader in this area is Resy, the restaurant reservation platform, which has always had text messaging at the center of its communication strategy. The playful messages which convey information that’s useful (such as an appointment reminder) make it easy to keep the platform top of mind, and to automatically communicate with a restaurant to say, let them know you’re running late. Brands in the consumer goods category like plant seller Rooted and cookware company Great Jones have also used text messaging as way to both streamline and personalize customer service, by offering “hotline” services for advice. With brick and mortar stores operating at reduced capacity, more and more brands will likely rely on digital concierge offerings like these to maintain customer relationships.

At Studio71, we see the potential of text messaging to help our network of creators connect with their communities in new and exciting ways. This spring, S71 announced a partnership with Subtext, an innovative conversation platform that connects a wide array of creators with their audiences through text messaging, ”free from the noise of social media.” With this partnership, Subtext will power all text communication between S71, its network of creators and their fans. Subtext’s technology will add to the suite of services S71 offers creators, giving them a new way to “create their own subscriber communities, share exclusive updates and financially support the work their fans love.” We’ve always been at the forefront of community-building for our creators and we’re looking forward to the fresh SMS applications our creators dream up.