chapter seven



Today, there are a multitude of text messaging services and apps. From traditional SMS, to WhatsApp, to Facebook and WeChat, there are an increasing number of options to choose from, each with different audiences in mind and adoption that varies by region and country. Some definitions around text messaging, including some of the popular messaging services and messaging terminology are outlined here.

  • SMS

    SMS or simple message service, is the standard text messaging protocol used by telecom operators globally. It is a text-only protocol that does not support images or attachments. While it is supported by most mobile phones (feature phones and smartphones), not all consumers have SMS service plans through their telecom operators. Messaging without an SMS service plan may be costly for consumers. SMS is popular in the Americas where data plans may be cost prohibitive.

  • MMS

    MMS or multimedia message service, is a standard text messaging protocol similar to SMS that allows for inclusion of images. Like SMS, it is supported by many telecom operators globally. Messaging without an MMS service plan may be costly for consumers.

  • WhatsAPP

    WhatsApp is a messaging service supporting text and rich media owned by Facebook. It requires the WhatsApp app from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store, and phone number verification for the mobile device. Messages are relayed over data plans with the telecom operator (not SMS service plan) or WiFi. WhatsApp is popular in Europe and Asia where data plans are affordable.

  • Facebook Messenger

    Facebook Messenger is a messaging service that originated alongside the Facebook social media platform. It now exists as a standalone app for smartphones from Apple’s App store or Google’s Play Store that does not require use of the Facebook app. It includes enhanced rich media and interactivity options not available in SMS and WhatsApp.

  • WeChat

    WeChat is a messaging service that is extremely popular in China. Beyond just messaging, it is used for all kinds of transactions, like hailing a taxi, sending money, ordering food or dry cleaning. This is possible with its ecosystem of mini apps.

  • Long Code

    Long Code refers to the standard-length phone numbers most individuals and businesses use for daily interactions like voice calls and text messages. Long code phone numbers in many countries are 10 digits in length, although sometimes there are prefixes or area codes.

  • Short Code

    Short Code refers to a short-length phone number primarily used by businesses or organizations to message with consumers. Short codes are built to handle a higher volume of message throughput than Long Code phone numbers. Typically, use of a Short Code involves an approval process that outlines how it will be used to interface with consumer audiences.

  • P2P

    P2P is short for person-to-person messaging, where two (or more) people are messaging each other directly. A simple example of this is two people messaging with each other from their own mobile devices.

  • A2P

    A2P is short for application-to-person messaging, where software or an application is messaging with a person. A simple example of this is an automatic deposit message sent from a bank system to a customer.

  • Two-Way Conversation

    Two-Way Conversation refers to bi-directional communication where the participants are able to communicate back and forth with each other.

  • 1:Many

    1:Many or ‘bulk messaging’ refers to initiating text messaging conversations with more than one recipient in parallel. This is somewhat analogous to the BCC function in email, where each recipient has an individual conversation with the sender. A 1:Many message can be P2P (initiated by a person) or A2P (initiated by an application).

  • Conversational Recruiting

    Conversational Recruiting refers to using conversations driven by text messaging technology as a part of the recruiting process.