Mixing Storytelling and SMS
Recently YouthNoise and Virgin Mobile launched a mobile campaign designed to raise awareness of teen homelessness in other teens in the United States. The campaign – called Ghost Town – takes a unique twist on more typical SMS campaigns. It gets its message out through an SMS story sent in regular installments over a month.
Teens can subscribe to the story by texting GHOST to the short code 1234. After that they’ll receive a chapter of the story in a 160 character text message twice a day for a month. Sounds like a mobile soap opera, doesn’t it?
The campaign has a few other mobile features worth mentioning. Occasionally readers will be asked to take a poll on their cell phones and the results will help determine the next outcome in the story. Also at any time, readers can send a text message to receive more information about any of the characters in the story. Additionally from the campaign website they can purchase ringtones from musicians like Jewel and James Blunt with the proceeds from sales going to help homeless teens. Of course there is also a web component that let’s readers do all of that online and read and comment on the character’s blogs.
I think this is a great idea and really applaud the campaign for bringing so many mobile components into it. I do think a major challenge will be keeping teens reading the messages. A month is a long time to keep anyone interested in something, and one slow “chapter” could cause people to unsubscribe – especially since they have to pay for each text message.