Hidden costs of conference twittering on T-Mobile and 3

My post on using twitter via text message at conferences has been one of the most popular on this blog.

When I wrote that guide I had thought that text-message feedback via Twitter cost only the standard network rate for UK mobiles – and so for those (like me) with inclusive text message bundles that never get used up – it was virtually free.

However, via a trail of posts leading to Tech Crunch (and checking against my own phone bill) I've just discovered that's not quite the case:

Note also that the 07624 in Twitter’s number (+44 762 4801423) means it is actually billed as “international” by 3 and T-Mobile, making it a pricey service for those who like to tweet via SMS.

That raises an issue particularly for conferences with young people – where the 25p a message cost of sending in each bit of feedback at a conference can put up a significant barrier to participation (“you can have your say – but it'll cost £1 over the course of the day if you're on T-Mobile” doesn't seem quite right).

I might have to do a little rethinking about the best process for conference twittering to see if this is an issue we can work around in future. Any suggestions welcome…

6 thoughts on “Hidden costs of conference twittering on T-Mobile and 3”

  1. Hey Kevin

    That’s not a bad idea for two or three day events. I’ll look into it.

    With the one day conference set-up where I’m really keen to use Twitter for feedback etc – we’ve usually only got 5 minutes to get people set up using it – hence encouraging sign-up and use via SMS…

    So it’s really getting that sign up process to work – when you’re working with an audience of 50 – 100 people, some of whom are only just about comfortable using SMS, let along mobile interenet – that is providing me with a bit of a challenge…

  2. Is there any way to allow conference delegates to text to a number – without registering – and have those texts received via the internet (or at least on a PC) so that they can be displayed as you did with Twitter. It’s the registration process which is cumbersome to foist onto an audience of hundreds (as well as the costs you have highlighted)

  3. There are commercial providers who will offer SMS->Internet gateways – either via SMS->e-mail that you could then display, or SMS->some sort of web API you could interface with.

    However, when I last looked (probably over 12 months ago) there was a fairly big up front cost (>£500) which was an issue for the voluntary sector groups I’ve been working with…

  4. Thanks – I already use a piece of software called Jeyo mobile companion which, with my (PocketPC) phone connected via USB, shows my SMS inbox from which I could copy and paste – I guess. But I’m not sure how this set up would cope with maybe hundreds of messages coming in over a short period of time (i.e. would a regular operator’s network work this fast?)

  5. hey folks – yes -always be careful what number you text. It’s worth sending a few and then checking your bill online to make sure you’re not being stung.

    the aql guys have a whole load of numbers that are cheap to text from t-mobile (in fact if you have a bundle, they are usually included).

    you can get a free aql number that allows you to text-to-twitter from this page https://www.aql.com/sms/twitter/

    A good way to check if a number is an isle of man number is to use a network lookup – again, the aql one is free (https://www.aql.com/telecoms/network-lookup/) but lots of operators have one too.

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