Q: A friend told me you can update Facebook by sending a text message. Is this true?
Posting your Facebook or Twitter status while you’re at a restaurant, on the bus, or even in line at the store is all the rage these days. But many people mistakenly think that only those with smartphones are allowed to get in on the fun.
Even if you only have a basic cell phone with no fancy apps, you don’t have to rush back to your laptop or desktop computer to share your message. In fact, you can still make updates to your social networking profiles right from your mobile without even connecting to the internet!
Any phone that is capable of sending text messages can use that same technology, known as Short Message Service or SMS, to interact with Facebook, Twitter or your other social profiles. You can send messages, and in most cases, receive them from your friends.
Each social network does things a little differently, and all have tutorials online that walk you through the process of setting up your phone for SMS updates. Here is the general FAQ for using Twitter with your phone and here is the homepage for Facebook Mobile.
In both cases, you can add your own status updates by texting, but you can also subscribe to the updates of specific people so that you receive a text when they make a post. And if you later decide you don’t want to receive all these updates, you can always unsubscribe. (Refer to the FAQs for detailed information.)
You should be aware, however, that if you sign up for these services, they will count as regular text messages. Although the social networking services are completely free, you will have to pay regular text messaging fees according to your phone’s service plan. If you have an unlimited plan, or a high limit that you don’t think you will eclipse, you should be fine, but do be careful if you decide to sign up for updates from your friends. You certainly don’t want to go over your texting limit and receive an unwelcome surprise when you get your phone bill!
Just about all major social networks will have an SMS feature, but if you’d like to update multiple profiles without manually signing up for each one, there are even services, including Ping.fm, that will allow you to make blanket updates quite easily.
All in all, although smartphones are rapidly dropping in price, many of us are still getting by quite well with basic phones that lack web browsing and fancy apps. And it’s important to know that you can still update your social networks on the go without having the latest shiny new model!
Andrew Walsh is the owner and editor of Social Web Q and A. He is a freelance writer, academic librarian and web entrepreneur. Check out his book Savvy for the Social Web.