Twilio - for SMS notifications to users - Anyone Else Interested?

Continuing the discussion from Plugin to send 'private' SMS or Instant Messages from Categories:

Has anyone tried this yet?

I’m really interested in this as a way to improve user engagement in our forums. I am very concerned about the fact that the vast majority of our users are on Gmail (which filters our forum notifications into the rarely-reviewed bucket of “forum” messages,and Most of our users are in their 20s and so tend to use texting over email, - so I don’t think most of our users ever really get any notifications.

I’d love to have an interface / mechanism to send very occasional notifications (you don’t want to flood your users with notifications as we do with email) and have a cap on it also for cost reasons (since you’re paying Twilio/SMS gateway fees).

Anyone else out there doing this, or have a recognized need for this?

5 Likes

I have implemented this for one of my Discourse instances as a simple hacky proof-of-concept, just using Discourse webhooks, Zapier, and Twilio.

I’m starting now to think about ways to build on this and create a SMS Discourse plugin, some particular challenges include how to manage and prevent spam, and misuse, and notification rate limiting. But it’s interesting and doable.

Marcus

5 Likes

Would love to see SMS support for account activation and authentication/password resets.

Could include invites and shares as option if ok with that added expense of users generating those messages.

Other notifications could be pushed via the mobile app. So basically kill email; doesn’t scale.

Nextdoor seems to support SMS well, but it’s a heavily ad supported or paid/sponsored platform.

2 Likes

I’d like to see it also for periodic summary notifications - to try to pull people back to the forum. I suspect most users are like me - using gmail for email, and not frequently checking their “forum” category that gmail sorts the email into.

I think an SMS system would be much better at pulling users back to the forum.

4 Likes

Pulled from mothballs. Any traction on this?

Well, there’s this:

3 Likes

I have a simple Sinatra-based webhook responder here which I use to send SMS in response to posts in a specific ‘alerting’ Category. It’s nothing fancy but it’s been working for 2 years without problems. We use a different script running on the Heroku Scheduler to test the alerting function once weekly.

The twilio-notifications repo linked in the preceding post is much more like what I would write if I was doing it again now. It would be good to have a configurable Twilio plugin, with both Admin interface for setup and User interface for opt-in/out of SMS notifications. If there is interest in developing this then perhaps a couple of customers could pool resources.

6 Likes

I am interested :slight_smile:

1 Like

We could consider updating this to a full Discourse plugin and making it more generally applicable, if there is interest. It would require some funding to be injected.

Is there an active funding link for this?

2 Likes

I’m interested and would back up a plugin to allow to connect with the users via SMS

2 Likes

Thanks for your interest @marianord @atozsoft

We don’t currently have a crowdfunder going for this, and previous work was paid for by a single company, Digital Health Intelligence, for whom I run a forum, and they needed this functionality. At present it’s open source and freely available but it isn’t a nice simple plugin, it’s Ruby code that runs external to Discourse. It was all done before I knew how to write plugins. (I still don’t really know how to write plugins)

However I wonder if Pavilion via @angus @Ellibereth @merefield @fzngagan should look with me at what a plugin would require and we can come up with a target amount that would need to be reached by the crowdfunder to make a Discourse SMS plugin.

5 Likes

What is the cost of sending SMS through Twilio? Anyone know? I am curious because email is free…ish.

It varies by country.

In the US they charge $1 per month for the number and $0.0075 per message. US Cellular is 0.0025 extra, while Verizon costs an additional $0.005.

The UK is costlier, messages are $0.04 each.

I’ve worked with a couple of clients who have expressed interest in replacing email with SMS until they see the pricing - there isn’t any discount for volume until you exceed 5 million messages ($37.5k) per month.

3 Likes

NZ must be the other end of the spectrum - US$0.10 so basically unaffordable. Locally we can get US$0.07 for a similar service, unless you have a sweet deal with someone.

2 Likes

The structure for this already exists somewhat in the Chat Integration and OneSignal plugins.

I think if I were going to build this, I would build a generic notifier plugin along the lines of the Chat Integration plugin that could support multiple APIs. That way you could use any SMS integration service, as well as use it for similar use cases, like replacing OneSignal for the RN whitelabel app.

@pmusaraj There’s a potential cross-over here :slight_smile:

5 Likes

i am interested in twilio integration if someone has it working. I will chip in for dev if that’s how things work around here.

4 Likes