If you use Twitter regularly, you already know that it’s a rich source of information and a powerful tool for engagement. But if you already use Twitter, you’ve also heard people give reasons why they don’t use it … it’s intimidating, it’s confusing, it’s too complicated. Getting used to a new social media platform takes time, especially in a space like Twitter, which can feel like it’s filled with people who were born understanding the language of hashtags, RTs and H/Ts.
And even for the initiated, trying to keep up with a Twitter timeline can feel like trying to drink from a fire hydrant.
Enter 40404, a simple (but magical) little thing that allows anyone to subscribe to specific Twitter users and receive their tweets as text messages on a mobile phone. It uses no Twitter account, no computer, no login. Just text messages, delivered straight to a phone. For example, text Follow @kmagette to the phone number 40404, and you’ll receive all my tweets as text messages.
In a school community, this has huge implications. In my district, our high school activities director manages a Twitter account that includes scoring updates and schedule changes — information that’s important to students, parents and many in the community. If you text Follow @EudoraHS to 40404, you’ll get a text about every last Cardinal activity tweet. People no longer have to use Twitter to get a principal’s tweets about attendance, a teacher’s tweets about an upcoming test, or a superintendent’s tweets about a crisis situation.
Maybe you want to make sure to get all of the tweets from your local meteorologist, your alma mater or your favorite comedian. I actually use 40404 to make sure I don’t miss a single thing that my husband tweets. I’m not sure if I’m proud of this or not, but it does ensure that I never miss a photo or story about my kids.
The 40404 function isn’t new — in fact, it’s been around since 2010. But as Twitter becomes a more popular tool for school districts to communicate with different audiences, this makes it a way for anyone to benefit from Twitter messages in a customized, direct way that feels comfortably familiar. Consider, too, that people who subscribe to your Twitter feed will receive the information that’s important to them — an update on the basketball tournament. But the subscription means they will also receive the information that’s important to you. This is a great way to tune into WII-FM and get your important messages out at the same time.
The trick is setting up the incoming text alerts from 40404. It only took me a day or two after subscribing to decide to choose “none” for both text tone and vibration. My day is crazy enough — the last thing I need is more dopamine hits each day!