Hacking Twitter: How we setup free text message notifications from contact forms (and group texting).
I have a fantastic client that runs a popular Phoenix urban real estate website called WeKnowUrban.com. We are always collaborating on ways to make the site more attractive, improve SEO, and streamline the conversion of visitors into buyers and sellers.
I think our previous project was such a clever example of system hacking that I’d write about it. Essentially, we figured out how to leverage Twitter into getting free text message notifications from our website contact form, along with group texting capabilities. Typically a service like Twillio would be used for this purpose, but we needed something quick, simple and free.
Basically, when a website visitor is interested in a property, he or she can use the website contact form to ask for a follow up. This lead is then texted to all agents. The first agent to reply to the text gets the lead (there’s a financial incentive to being first). When the first agent replies, all other agents are texted again that the lead has been taken to prevent duplicate follow through. It’s an incredibly elegant solution for website contact form notifications and group texting. Additionally, all texts are tracked and timestamped—all through Twitter.
The key is Twitter’s feature to receive text messages of new tweets from the accounts that you follow.
- We first setup a master “contact form” Twitter account. This account is responsible for tweeting the incoming leads.
- The website’s contact form was programmed to combine the contact form fields (e.g. message, email and phone) and then break it up into 130 character strings.
- Each string is then tweeted through Twitter’s API as coming from the master “contact form” twitter account.
- Each agent was setup with a Twitter account, followed the “contact form” account and added text message notifications for new tweets.
- All agents also followed all other agents to receive text messages of their tweets. In this case those would be replies saying that they snagged a lead.
The end result is a system that relays incoming contact form requests to text messages sent to all agents, with reply texts acting as group texting. Additionally, the entire history is logged and timestamped—in a nice Twitter stream.
With ubiquitous smart phones, any of the agents could also use their real Twitter account via the app in conjunction with our hack.
What do you think?