SMS is an amazing tool for businesses. It’s affordable. Quick to set up. Fast to send. People love it. Did you know that 75% of consumers want to receive SMS messages from brands after they have opted in?

Yep, that’s a huge chunk of people who want to hear from your business via SMS. 

There’s just one catch, did you spot it? People want to hear from you after they have opted in

Luckily, getting customers to opt-in for SMS is easier than you think. If you know how. 

In this blog post, we’ll explain how to use social media for list building. We’ll cover:

  • Build the sign-up FOMO
  • Optimise your social channels for opt-ins
  • Use targeted social media ads to build your list
  • Create interest with a contest or giveaway
  • Tap into niche groups across channels
  • Swap gated content for a text message sign-up 
  • Join forces with influencers 

💡Demystify the what and why of opt-ins. Read our SMS opt-ins explained blog.

1. Build the sign-up FOMO

Before you dive into tactics, there’s one important thing to consider. 

What value are you giving your audience in exchange for their opt-in?

Many people don’t want to hand over their data unless there’s something in it for them. It could be early access to sales, giveaways, limited product drops, VIP updates, a customer loyalty program, or maybe just a free treat for their birthday.

Afends text marketing opt in form example

Australian clothing company Afends do this well. They tell you what you’ll get for signing up to text. And, they deliver on it, all the time. Plus, they even give their SMS program a name (so you feel part of something). 

Here’s the trick. Give your audience a reason to opt in. And, make sure you reiterate that reason every time you promote your text messaging program on social media.

2. Optimise your social channels for opt-ins

This is pretty obvious. But it usually gets missed by most marketers and business owners. If building an SMS contact list is one of your main objectives, then make sure your channels are optimised to promote opt-ins. 

It can be simple. Add a link to opt-in and a call to action (CTA) in your bio. Add this link and CTA to every bio, on every channel you’re using, from Insta to LinkedIn. 

Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok and LinkedIn also allow you to pin posts. If you want to give opt-ins an extra push, pin a post promoting SMS opt-ins to the top of these feeds. Instagram uses a slightly different method — you’ll need to add the post as a highlight. 

3. Use targeted social media ads to build your list

Sometimes it’s better to cast a small net, rather than going wide. That’s where targeted adverts come in. 

Targeted ads help you hook the right customers, on the right channel with highly relevant messages. 

Pretty much every social media channel allows businesses to share targeted advertising. Which means you can select what kind of people will see your ad depending on specific demographics and interests. 

Here’s an ad that e-Commerce brand Princess Polly used to encourage text signups via Facebook.

Princess Polly SMS opt in advertising promotion on Facebook example

The good thing about targeted ads is that you can reach your target audience, without having to build a huge following on a channel. 

For example, if you’re a hotel chain, you can reach people who like luxury travel on Instagram — even if only 10 people follow your actual account. This is great for smaller or time-poor teams who can’t invest in building their followers on every, single platform. 

Hot tip: there are more social channels than you think. In fact, 20 social media channels allow advertising. From Twitter to Twitch, Telegram and everything in between. Just make sure the channel you choose to advertise on, is the channel your dream audience uses.

4. Create interest with a contest or giveaway

Everyone loves a competition. And, people are very used to handing over personal details such as phone numbers or emails to enter. So, why reinvent the wheel?

Luckily for you, social media is the perfect place to promote a competition. Hubspot reports that brands that run social media contests see a 66% increase in audience engagement. 

The most popular type of text message competition is a text-to-win competition. Which can be used to collect opt-ins along the way. 

A text-to-win competition asks people to send a keyword or phrase to the number to be entered into the draw. Then a winner is chosen at random. You can offer whatever you want as a prize. 

Once someone has entered, it’s best practice to confirm the opt-in again over message. This is sometimes called a double opt-in. Just to stay compliant with opt-in rules. 

This example from Skims shows what a double opt-in might look like. 

Example text messages from SKIMS showing opt in consent

Want to try your hand at an SMS competition? Learn how to run competition and polls.

5. Tap into niche groups across channels

If you don’t have the budget to spend big on social media ads, never fear. There is another way you can reach highly targeted and highly engaged people.

Groups. A marketer’s best friend. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Telegram and Reddit all have groups (even though each platform might call it something different). 

A group is a place where like-minded people go to talk about a specific topic. For example, the Facebook group Cheap Meal Ideas has 4,803,345. If you were a budget food brand, you might think about joining. 

You can use groups to push SMS sign-ups in two ways. 

  1. Tap into an existing group
    You can join an existing group that’s matched to your target audience. Once you’re in, you can invite people to join your SMS opt-in. This would be a great place to share something of value, a lead magnet for example. Or, maybe a discount or offer.
    Keeping in mind that some groups don’t allow businesses to join or, business promotion. Just check the rules of each group before you invest too much time.
  2. Create your own group
    If you don’t like playing by someone else’s rules, you can create your own group.

You’ll need to spend time nurturing the group, building trust and engagement. Then, once the group is active — you can offer extra value for people who want to sign up for SMS. Discounts, insights, content, free stuff — that’s all valuable to your target audience.

6. Swap lead magnets for a text message sign-up

Ok, this one is a juicy tactic. It’s often used for growing email subscriber lists. But, you can use it for SMS too. Just peachy. 

Lead magnets are most commonly used by B2B brands, service businesses or content creators. And they’re extremely common — once you know what they are, you’ll see them everywhere. 

A lead magnet is a valuable piece of content, like an ebook, that you offer in exchange for someone’s phone number and opt-in. 

The lead magnet has to be something your target audience actually wants to read. Plus, you have to make sure you have the right T&Cs for SMS opt-in when they sign up. 

For an example of a super relevant ebook, check out our Guide to SMS for your business. Don’t worry, you can download it without entering any of your information. We’re nice like that. 

Ok, but where does social media come in?

Surprise, surprise — social media is a great place to promote your lead magnet. And, pretty much any SMS list building tactic really. You can share your lead magnet via organic posts, targeted ads or share your content in groups.

7. Join forces with influencers

Influencers, influence — that’s what they do. They provide their audience with tips, insights, inspiration and more. Their audiences are usually very engaged and trusting of an influencer’s opinion. 

You can work with an influencer to promote your SMS program. They’ll post about it and encourage their followers to sign up. 

You’ll pay the influencer for their time, and influence. All’s fair in business and social media, right?

If you do engage an influencer, you need to make sure to pick the right one. The demographics of their following should match the demographics of your target audience.

Ready to build your SMS list on social media?

We’re ready to help you. We’d love to show you how SMS can improve your business communication. And, how other businesses are using social media to build their list. 

You can sign up for a free trial or start a chat with our support team, 24/7.