November 26, 2019 | Article | by Jeff Baskin | Advertising, Technology
Celebrity Texting Marketing Opportunities
What is This New Celebrity Texting Trend on Social Media and Can It Work For My Business?
A new startup is trying to make it easier for fans to connect with their favorite celebrities.
Community is a Los Angeles-based media company that promises its users a more intimate way to connect with their favorite celebrities and influencers. With Community, influencers can create a phone number with which they can trade texts with their biggest fans. This startup already has influential celebrity backers, and some of them - including Ashton Kutcher - are investors in the company.
The Hype Begins
Back in January, Ashton Kutcher turned heads when he posted a phone number on his Twitter feed and asked his followers to text him. Most people correctly guessed that there would be some kind of catch, and those who bit on this marketing ploy shortly found that it was something strikingly less intimate than they imagined.
Anyone who texted Kutcher’s number received an immediate response, but it wasn’t exactly a friendly hello. Instead, texters received an automated message from “Ashton” that said, “make sure you click the link and add yourself to my phone so I can respond to you”.
The link led to a Community signup page that asked users to confirm their number and other personal details. In its terms of service, the company says it offers influencers the ability to “send and receive text messages from users of the service by using a ten-digit phone number provided by Community”. However, it seems that the reality of the service is something less than its users expected.
Despite the service’s shortcomings, other celebrities are following Kutcher’s lead. Jennifer Lopez, Ian Somerhalder, and even P. Diddy have posted their own Community phone numbers since Kutcher broke the ice. These influencers are embracing Community, but what’s the real deal with this service? Is it the next wave of influencer marketing or just another overhyped Hollywood pet project?
Community’s website says that its software allows fans to text their favorite celebrities like they do their mom or best friend. However, the actual user experience falls well short of that lofty goal. A reporter who tried to text Mr. Kutcher said that the platform didn’t deliver the conversation-like intimacy that it promises.
Community functions like a large-scale SMS marketing platform. Users who texted Kutcher basically opted into a mass text-messaging list. They received some disjointed texts from Kutcher, but few - if any - received answers to the messages they sent him. It’s unclear whether Kutcher even received them.
More Marketing Power For Celebs
This small startup says it’s trying to bridge the gap between influencers and its fans by offering direct text messaging, but the actual product doesn’t quite deliver. Following a celebrity on Community is pretty similar to signing up for text message updates from your favorite news site. However, it does offer some unique benefits for influencers, so it’s no wonder that some celebrities are coming out to support the platform.
At its core, Community sounds like an SMS-based Twitter. Sure, users can text their favorite celebs and influencers, but the celebs will answer them are slim to none. It’s not much different than tagging your favorite celebrity on Twitter.
However, Community allows influencers to foster a deeper connection with their base by sending messages directly to their followers. Followers receive Community text messages directly to their phone. Influencers can totally circumvent Twitter’s news feed algorithm and create a more direct communication channel with their most engaged followers.
Can SMS Texting Work For Digital Marketers?
Text messages are one of the most effective ways to communicate with customers. SMS open rates are almost 5 times higher than email, so developing a text-message marketing channel should be a priority for any digital marketer.
SMS marketing has been around for a long time, but Community is taking it to another level. Despite all the recent publicity, reviewers have been critical of the service. Kutcher’s ‘phone number’ stunt probably got a big response from his social media followers, but the service delivers much less than it promises.
Does Your Business Need Community?
Text-message marketing is an excellent way to promote a brand and engage with customers. It’s an essential tool in every digital marketer’s toolbox. However, there’s no need to rush out and sign up for Community. Businesses that are already deploying an effective SMS marketing strategy will probably find the platform to be somewhat redundant.
Despite its shortcomings, Community can help influencers engage with their followers and develop an SMS marketing pool of their very own. Influencers who are looking for creative ways to engage their followers outside of social media should take a closer look at the platform.