Lots of people still use Twitter via SMS — even without a Twitter account

Did you know you don’t even need a Twitter account to follow someone on Twitter?

That’s right: All you need is a phone and you can receive SMS updates from any Twitter account. That can be a handy way to get alerts from news organizations, weather updates, or sports scores from your favorite teams.

While most people do use Twitter accounts and access Twitter via the Web or through its smartphone apps, Twitter actually saw a lot of growth last quarter from SMS subscribers.

The company said last week that “the vast majority” of the active users it added last quarter came from “SMS Fast Followers.” Those are people who sign up via SMS, without creating a Twitter accounts. Those SMS users accounted for 14 million users last quarter — almost all of the new users Twitter added during that time.

If 14 million people became “SMS Fast Followers” last quarter, there must be something to it.

Here’s how to do it yourself:

  • Find out what your Twitter shortcode is. For people in the U.S., it’s 40404. Here’s the complete list of Twitter shortcodes by country and carrier.
  • Find out the Twitter handle you want to follow. A few suggestions are below.
  • Send an SMS to that shortcode with the message Follow [username] in it.

That’s it! You’ll get updates from that Twitter account. If you want to, you can follow more accounts by sending separate “Follow” commands for each one. However, there’s a daily limit to the number of updates you can receive. If you hit that limit, Twitter will send you a text message and ask you to upgrade to a full Twitter account if you want more updates. You can do that via SMS too.

Here are some more SMS Fast Follow commands you can use with Twitter.

And here are some handy Twitter accounts you might want to follow via SMS:

  • @BreakingNews – alerts about major breaking news
  • @Wunderground – alerts from Weather Underground, a great weather service
  • @UFC
  • @MLB
  • @NFL
  • @NBA

What other Twitter handles give you useful SMS alerts? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Twitter earnings statement, via SlashGear.

About Dylan Tweney

I'm the publisher of SMS411.net and of several other sites, including daily haiku/micropoetry site tinywords.com. In my day job, I'm an editor.
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