Civic, political, and governmental groups need to keep in touch with their people, and reaching audiences on their near-omnipresent phones has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to do so. Twilio is a commercial provider of mobile device connectivity via text, messenger app, and voice aimed at larger, more technically sophisticated organizations with mass communication needs.
Twilio was built for large corporations with a relatively high degree of technical sophistication. It is most useful for medium or large organizations such as major CSOs or government groups with very large contact lists and messaging needs measured in thousands or millions. If an organization wants to build a custom solution for communicating with large numbers of constituents, citizens, or supporters, Twilio has an extremely rich toolset. Twilio can be integrated with some major CRM systems such as Salesforce and Civi, so if an organization is using a system with such capabilities it can be an easy way to tap into the power of bulk messaging.
Political, advocacy, or civic organizations are at their most effective when they can easily keep in regular touch with their supporters, citizens, or interested individuals. Twilio is a sophisticated commercial messaging platform designed to facilitate communications across a wide range of methods, including email, SMS, voice (interactive voice response), website chat bots, and platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. A wide array of major companies and organizations use Twilio and it can also be integrated with some major CRM (customer or constituent relationship management) software to enable organizations to track the history of engagement with individuals and shape future communication based on past interactions.
Twilio has a range of accessible APIs (application programming interfaces) that enable software such as Zendesk, Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and other CRM tools to integrate with their platform. Twilio itself has a relatively simple scripting language that can be used to automate communications tasks and retain the history of engagement with recipients.
Twilio has an international presence, but most local access is in wealthier regions with well-developed digital communications infrastructure. In places where Twilio has local numbers, communication will appear as if it originated within the country. In the many places where Twilio cannot provide local numbers, however, one can use an international number from the US or some other locations.
Highly variable based on type of connection technology, country, and volume.
Configuring an application to connect to Twilio, or building a simple application in their system, is for sophisticated users. Custom connections may require learning the Twilio scripting language, or programming APIs. Integration with existing applications, such as Salesforce, that support Twilio would be less complicated, but still require some skill.
Twilio has a great deal of documentation, an active user community, and available technical support for paying customers.
As a hosted platform, the Twilio system does not require any maintenance. However, one would need to be careful of the software with which it integrates; updates on either side could have the potential to disrupt the connections.
Maintaining the security of access to the Twilio platform is important for administrators, as unauthorized or untrained users might accidentally or maliciously send messages to your supporters or run up surprisingly large bills.