Messaging: Social Invites - Best Practice

Social Invites are a very useful way to promote an app or service to potential new users. Allowing an existing user to 'recommend' the app or service to a friend, triggering an SMS to that friend does however blur the line between a person-to-person message and unsolicited marketing.

Having discussed the case with some of our mobile operator partners, we have some tips how you can utilise SMS in this way, but ensure you do not come across charges of spamming people.

  • Limit to one or two SMS per recipient, ie, if 5 people recommend the app to the same person, just send one or two sms, not five.
  • Include the name of the person who sent the social invite, ie, 'Joe Bloggs has asked you to join myapp, download at'
  • Force the sender of the social invite to select recipients individually, and definitely do not have a 'send to all my contacts' button.

Unfortunately, some countries do not allow social invites to be sent via SMS:

  • US/Canada*
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico
  • Russia (this is not fully transparent, but our experience has been that Russian Carriers will block social invites)

*According to advice received, we believe that social invites are problematic in the US/Canada if multiple human interaction steps are not involved. The individual user should be able to decide who to send, when to send, and what to say. 

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