Running an SMS Quiz for 1000s of users with Frontline

Messaging for the Nairobi iHub's #5yrTechBash - Powered by FrontlineSMS

Last month our friends at the iHub celebrated their 5th anniversary (happy birthday!) with a fittingly grand celebration in the Nairobi Arboretum. The tech conscious of Nairobi, from senior organizations to aspiring developers came along and a great day it was.

To help promote the event, the iHub decided to use SMS to get the word out. Being the resident experts on SMS, we worked with iHub and Africa's Talking to make announcements and register those who were interested. And while we were at it, we decided to have a little fun...

A few months ago, we launched a new look and feel and a more powerful set of Activities. This improved the usability and power of the famous 'core activities' that have been with us for years, but what you might not know is that there is a whole new underlying architecture allowing flexibility for our system to automate many forms of communication. We'll release more later this year, but for now back to the fun.

Using a short code provided by Africa's Talking and our Activities infrastructure, users could register by texting in any word (fun to see in itself!). The system would then register their mobile number and automatically reply to ask them for their name. This would then be saved and a contact with name/number would be added to the 5yrTechBash group. Users could also express an interest in a couple of specific events and be added to those groups.

Frontline of course already has Autoforward to SMS announcements but we wanted to play around under the hood with Mugs@iHub and give her and her team more power. We let certain authorized contacts (mobile numbers) to be able to text in announcements to any of the contact groups. This allowed the iHub team before the event and whilst on the ground on the day to send announcements from their phones to all subscribers instantly. No computers needed! For those who have organized large events before, being in front of a computer is a seldom luxury on game day.

Then with our thinking caps on, we thought about how to use this for a bit of fun - a bespoke quiz! Using keywords as the answers to questions relevant to the day, we engineered a multi round quiz that would ask interested users the questions with a great prize from BRCK.

iHub quiz flowchart
iHub quiz flowchart

We started off with an anagram round of 4 questions. We sent the SMS the users the first anagram and if they replied with the correct answer, the system would send them the 2nd anagram question. Questions here, can you get them? (Answers at the bottom of the blog):

    lingo Congo Ethyl Loved Peer Cut Em Pro

The second set of questions were a couple of acronyms:

    What does ROFL stand for?! What does SIM stand for?

The final 'bonus' question:

    What is the product of the founding years of iHub and FrontlineSMS?

If they submitted the wrong answer, they were invited to try again. We added a skip feature for those struggling with a certain question and with a little bit of automation-builder-magic our awesome developers set the automations to track the time it took for each question to be answered. The person to answer all the questions in the least amount of time was the winner!

We had a 1000s of users coming through the Frontline iHub workspace we used for the event. 167 people started the quiz. 18 users reached the end of quiz and 2 users answered all the questions.

So what did we learn? We learned a bit more about how users can use our new automations to make engaging with users quick and easy (and in this case fun). We got to show off the apps newfound ability to automate APIs, register users, track time, and be prompted by SMS with admin announcements.

Oh yeah, the prize. The lovely team at iHub furnished us with a BRCK. The lucky winner answered all the questions plus our bonus questions faster than anyone else. Our CTO Alex Pitkin gave the BRCK to Dennis, the lucky winner, this past week in the iHub.

ihub quiz prize
ihub quiz prize

Quiz Answers:

    Login Technology Computer Developer Rolling on floor laughing Subscriber identity module 4030050 (The years 2010 and 2005 multiplied together)