Text-2-Screen For Smaller Churches

Last week, I started researching services that could help our church use text-2-screen capabilities in our unplugged@9 service. I know of a lot of churches and student ministries starting to do this so I thought it would be fairly straight forward process. I was sort-of right.

First, for years I’ve used the “old” fashion way of putting a mobile phone number on a powerpoint screen and have the people in the back type in the questions as they come. This has some benefits – it’s free…as long as the person’s phone you are using has unlimited text. There is built in moderation.

But there are some serious drawbacks to this system – especially the larger the venue. Do you really want the whole world knowing your cell phone number? It’s at best a 2 person job in the booth – if they are both tech savvy. It’s slow. It stresses out the people in the booth.

So we made the decision to figure out another solution. I researched quite a few options and thought I had found a great simple, cheap solution. Then realized it was software based, not web-based. If you know what that means – skip to the next paragraph. For the rest of you, software-based means the text-2-screen application is installed on a specific computer and you must use that specific computer any time you want to use this service. That’s some serious limitations in our web-based culture. We wanted a web-base service so that all we really needed to run it was an internet connection.

Here were the ones that stood out for us.

Wiffiti
It’s free. It’s fast. It has twitter integration. You can make your own screens. It has an awesome full-screen mode. It’s web-based, not software base.

But we ultimately didn’t choose to stick with this one. First, there is no moderation. Yes, you can delete messages that come in but it is in real time. The screens do have a rating system that catches profanity — most of the time. I still think it’s a great use in smaller settings.

Jarbyco
This is obviously where the big boys play. Their screens look awesome, you have the ability to have your own keyword, change theme slides, surveys, polls, basically, if you can dream it — they can pull it off.

Biggest problem – expensive. According to your venue size, your mileage may vary but it was WAY to expensive for our size or budget. As a sidenote – their web address was not a lot of help. In fact, it was the least helpful of all the services. However, their email support was outstanding. They were incredibly fast with their responses and I’m guessing that this is by design – focus on bigger clients with personal support rather than masses of smaller ones.

Poll Everywhere
This is probably the most famous/popular service. For a classroom size – this seems like the best option but again – no moderation until you spend $65/month. It’s not outrageously expensive but still more than we wanted to pay.

Mozeo.com
This is who we finally decided to go with. First, they had incredible customer service. Second, they had the ability to moderate as well as retrieve deleted messages.

Third, for a nominal one time set-up fee, we got to choose our own keyword (whills) and design our own screen with our logo on it. Have I mentioned that the customer service was outstanding? Any rate, the cost (after initial set up) is based on per text message. They have a couple of different options – both insanely cheap. We bought 100 text messages for $6. Pretty cheap. Mozeo has other services than just this which I’m sure we’ll explore in the future.

I’m putting this all down here because hopefully I can save other people some time when they start researching this.

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