Hershey Company’s text alerts service gets 40,000 subscribers

Businesses may think that a text messaging service only allows communication in a few ways, but that is not the case. Depending on the type of service the business offers, it can handle from a variety of advantages.

Ranging from updates on upcoming sales, complimentary gifts and coupons may be one of the more common ways to utilize this marketing tool, but text alerts serve as great reminders or words of advice.

For example, since 2011, the Hershey Company has worked with the International Cocoa Initiative, the World Cocoa Foundation and World Education Inc. to help cocoa farmers improve their farming strategies to increase product flow for Hershey and other cocoa businesses.

"CocoaLink is a unique platform that has revolutionized the relationship between the extension agent and the farmer," Noah Amenyah, an official of Ghana Cocoa Board, said in the Hershey press release. "With the support of our private partners, the program is poised to make the cost of technology exchange with the farmer cheaper, timely and relevant contributing to the long-term sustainability of cocoa production."

An SMS service is known as CocoaLink, provides information on pruning cocoa beans, pesticide application and handling the products in Ghana—the network plans on expanding to the Ivory Coast by 2014.

In two years, cell phone use in Ghana rose from 79 percent to 105 percent because many rural farmers own more than one cell phone for personal and professional use. Since CocoaLink has been implemented, 40,000 users have joined the network to text message cocoa experts about their crop.

"When we launched CocoaLink in mid 2011, we saw the potential for real change and to impact lives in the cocoa growing regions, but also knew we needed to reach tens of thousands of farmers to make a meaningful difference," Mike Wege, Hershey's Senior Vice President, Chief Growth and Marketing Officer, added.

To maximize CocoaLink's reach, subscribers can receive messages in Ghana's local language of Twi or English, whichever they feel they have a stronger grasp on. There are experts in both languages readily available at all times.

Across 1,700 villages in the western African nation, CocoaLink has helped farmers "double or triple" their farming practices.

Manufacturers or nonprofit organizations can benefit from a similar SMS platform because sharing these text messages can help constituents increase their potential output. Swift SMS Gateway has the developers to build such a campaign.