TUTORIAL: Texter Training Guide
*Training contains older versions of Spoke, see screenshots below for the newest version
This training will teach you to navigate Spoke Rewired, our peer-to-peer text messaging tool. Spoke is a powerful web-based texting platform that allows you to do rapid outreach to mobilize your members, turn out voters, build your base, and more.
When texting with Spoke, you have two goals:
- Engage contacts efficiently and thoughtfully
- Log accurate data according to contacts' responses
These goals are equally important, and we’ll explain how they fit into the Spoke workflow in the Sending Responses section. We recommend reviewing each section of this training guide to prepare for your first texting shift.
TEXTING IN SPOKE REWIRED
SENDING INITIAL TEXTS
Whether using your computer, tablet, or smartphone, sending text messages in Spoke is quick and easy. When beginning your texting shift, you should do the following:
- Start by checking your team's texting guide and any announcements or instructions from your texting leaders.
- Create your account. Your texting leaders will send you a link that will invite you to your texting workspace. Once your account setup is complete, you will either see a text request form or a message indicating that no texts are available. If you see Ready to text? and the green Request More Texts button, you can request your first assignment! Your texting leaders have set the maximum amount of texts you can request per batch; feel free to start smaller while you are getting to know the system, but know that batch sizes smaller than 300 are unlikely to provide many immediate replies!
- Once your text request has been approved, you will see your first assignment. Click on SEND FIRST TEXTS to enter the conversation screen. The green bubble indicates the number of texts you’ve been assigned.
- From the conversation screen, the initial text is provided for you. You will not be able to edit this first message. Send messages by clicking the SEND button in the lower left or by tapping the enter key on your keyboard. We recommend sending all of your initial messages before fielding your replies!
RESPONDING TO REPLIES
After sending your first assignment, you can begin responding to contacts' replies. Recipients will respond over time, sometimes hours or even days later — Aim to check your workflow for replies a few times throughout the day to ensure everyone who responds to your initial text receives a reply from you.
- As replies come into your workflow, you’ll see a SEND REPLIES button appear. The number in the orange bubble indicates the number of replies that need your attention. Unless you need to reopen a conversation that has already taken place, feel free to disregard the PAST MESSAGES or SKIPPED MESSAGES section. Any messages in the SEND LATER bucket will reopen when it reaches 9am in those contacts' local time zone.
Note: Conversations will only appear in your workflow between 9am-9pm local time for the recipients. If outside of that window, you will not be able to respond to contacts until texting hours reopen. Inbound replies from your contacts will appear the next morning.
After clicking the SEND REPLIES button, you’ll see the first reply in your queue. See the following section for instructions on marking the survey according to contacts' responses.
MARKING SURVEY RESPONSES
Remember: Engaging in a positive conversation with your contacts is equally important to logging accurate data for your campaign or organization. When responding, first ask: Which survey response most accurately captures their response to my question?
Click on the survey question below Current question
Read all responses carefully to ensure that your choice most accurately reflects their response. For example, note that the survey below includes two distinct options for wrong numbers, Wrong number and Wrong number / Supports CANDIDATE. You would want to choose the latter if the recipient had responded "This is not Adelaide, but I love CANDIDATE! They have my vote!"
If a contact clearly and explicitly asks to no longer receive texts, you must immediately opt them out.
Common opt-out responses:
- “Lose my number.”
- “Remove me.”
- “Don’t text me.”
- “Take me off your list.”
Opt Outs are a system feature that prevents your team from ever contacting that phone number again. Follow the instructions of your texting leaders, but do not opt contacts out unless they clearly ask to be removed.
To opt a contact out, use the orange OPT OUT button at the bottom of your screen. An unsubscribed message will pre-populate; click send to complete the opt out. To opt a contact out without sending a message, delete the prepopulated response and hit Opt out without sending message. This is recommended if the contact responds with something like, "I better not receive one more message from you!" but it is best practice and highly recommended to send the unsubscribed notification.
Sometimes the contact asks a question rather than directly responding to the initial message. If possible, mark the survey response accurately but tailor the message to address their question. To find suggested replies to common questions, check the CANNED RESPONSES section to the right of the OPT OUT button.
Clicking on a canned response will automatically populate the message field. If the contact has not addressed the initial question and it feels appropriate to do so, you could use a canned response and then reiterate the initial ask.
In addition to survey responses, data can also be captured through the application of tags.
Tags are commonly used to:
- Indicate that the recipient speaks another language.
- Escalate a conversation to another team or texting leader.
- Log data that doesn't naturally fit into the script, e.g. I want a yard sign!
To apply a tag, click MANAGE TAGS at the bottom of your screen.
In the example above, tagging "Spanish" would allow your texting leader to reach out to that contact in their first language the next time around. Depending on your program, you may also have the ability to tag "Reassign to Spanish Speaker" and actually pass that conversation to a Spanish-speaking teammate — just by applying the tag!
To find a tag, place your cursor under Apply tags and begin typing. The list will filter to the available tags as you begin typing.
When the tag appears, select it and click SAVE.
From the MANAGE TAGS section, you also have the option to escalate a conversation directly to your texting leaders. This button should be used with care and according to your team's specific instructions. Texting programs often use this button to transfer messages directly to administrators because they contain:
- Threats of violence
- Deadnaming, i.e. when a contact identifies as trans or non-binary but your organization's data contains their old, dead name
- Urgent requests. e.g. a canvassing volunteer who is having trouble finding an event location
In general, you should only escalate as the final recourse to an extremely sensitive or urgent conversation.
If a voter sends a message that doesn’t require a response, you can simply select CLOSE, next to the MANAGE TAGS button. This essentially marks the message as “read” and will move it out of your SEND REPLIES section and into your SKIPPED MESSAGES.
To leave a reply "unread" so you can come back to it later, you should instead use the NEXT > button on the bottom right of your screen. Unlike the CLOSE button, this will allow you to continue working on other replies and easily come back to an unanswered conversation.
When texting on behalf of a campaign or organization, you should consider what each message you send would look like if it appeared on social media without context. Would it reflect well on the program you're supporting? Would other volunteers be proud to say they work alongside you? When responding to sensitive, unpleasant, or triggering messages, ask yourself: “What would it look like if my text conversation went viral?”
ENGAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES
Almost every text list will put you in touch with non-supporters or even trolls who use offensive language to try to bait you into saying something you’d regret. To safeguard ourselves against this, here are a few tips to help when you find yourself in a heated situation:
- Disengage: Take a break from texting by walking away from your screen to recenter yourself around the goal of your work. Taking a breather can help you collect your thoughts and refocus.
- Lean on survey responses: Make use of the pre-scripted responses to quickly move past negative responders and onto potential supporters.
- Reach out to texting leadership: Don't hesitate to ask for help from your teammates and leadership. They can help you craft a thoughtful response or even take a conversation off your hands.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)
Q: Do I need to download an app in order to use Spoke on my phone?
A: Nope! Spoke is a web-based platform. You can access your workflow through your browser (Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc.) and pasting your workflow url in the search bar.
Q: Will using Spoke on my phone share my personal phone number with the contacts I’m texting?
A: No. Spoke is a web-based program that assigns an anonymous phone number for each of our campaigns, so your personal number is always private.
Q: What does it mean when I see a gray box with SEND LATER in Spoke?
A: Spoke enforces sending during 9am-9pm local time. If it's outside of these hours for the person you're attempting to contact, you won't be able to send them a message.