mData

mData lets people text in to access your organization’s information – no matter where they are. Mobile Commons clients use mData to provide a guide to the best nearby parking lot; to keep their constituents informed about candidates’ positions; and to find the closest flu vaccination.

Technically speaking, the mData feature allows you to set up a database which users can text in to query. The database can either be a CSV that you upload, or a web service that you create. 

There are two different types of mDatas (unrelated to whether it’s a CSV or a web service):

1)   Location-based: Users text in to find the nearest clinic or polling place, based on their address

2)   Non-Location-based: Users text in a search term and the resultant information is pulled from your database. For example, if you created an mData to let people learn the population of any country, someone could text in a country’s name and automatically receive back the country’s population.

 

mData Sub-tab

The mData sub-tab displays all the mData campaigns in your Mobile Commons account.  Go to Text Messaging>mData

You can download the csv template needed if you're uploading a spreadsheet of data, straight from Text Messaging>mData, by clicking "Download CSV Template", or you can grab it after you set up the mData.

Create a New Location-Based mData Using an Uploaded Spreadsheet

1) On the right hand side menu, under “mData Actions”, click New mData.

2) Give your mData a name (for internal use only), such as “Clinic Finder.”

3) Click the radio button for "Upload a Spreadsheet or Manually Add New Rows".

4) Check the box for Geocode the inputs and allow users to text a location.

5) Set the location criteria for the geocoding. You can limit results to a certain mileage radius to the user’s profile address, and have the mData return the 1-4 closest results. In the example below, my mData will return the 1 closest result within 50 miles of the user’s profile address. 

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9) Decide How Will Users Interact With Your Service?

  • Just text a keyword: Users text in a keyword and get the response that corresponds to that keyword on your spreadsheet.
  • Text a keyword, get a random response: Users text in a keyword and get a random response from your spreadsheet. For example, you could have a spreadsheet database of jokes, and people would text in a keyword to receive one of your jokes randomly.
  • Text a keyword, get a unique response (one per phone): Users text in a keyword to get one unique response from your spreadsheet. Every time that same user texts in from the same phone, he or she will receive that same response. For example, if you are using unique coupon codes, each code will only be used once, and will be sent to the user over and over again. This helps avoid the problem of people hoarding multiple coupon codes.
  • Text a keyword, get a random response (one per phone): Users text in a keyword and get one random response from your spreadsheet. Each time that phone texts in, it will receive back that same response over and over again. For example, if you are using coupon codes but do not care if multiple people get the same coupon code, each random code will be sent to the user over and over again. This helps avoid the problem of people hoarding multiple coupon codes, but multiple users could end up with the same random coupon code.
  • (default) Text a keyword and search term (e.g. “weather new york”): This is the default setting for mDatas. This means that users can text in a keyword and a search term like “weather [key word] new york [search term]” to look for the weather in New York. You could also use this setting to allow users to text in a keyword, then receive a response asking for a search term. For example, if a user texts in “weather,” he or she will receive an automatic response that says, “What city would you like the weather for?” When the user responds “New York,” the mData will return the weather for New York.
  • Usually you want to leave the Send all future replies to this mData, even without a keyword box marked true,but you have the option to uncheck it if you’d like. Leaving this box checked means that if someone texts in to find their nearest clinic, they can keep texting back different locations to find different clinics, without always having to text in a keyword first. This creates the best user experience.

You can leave the default autoresponder as “You must provide a search term,” or you can customize the default response for your mData. You can also set a customized "No Results Found" message for your users. 

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10) Click Create.

11) On the next screen, click Upload Database.

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12)  You can get a sample csv template from the mData subtab

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Or, after you set up your mData, click 'Upload Database" from the mData actions menu. Then on the next page, click the blue link for the words "sample csv" in the sentence, "Use this sample CSV as an example."

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13)  Fill the information into your spreadsheet. Because this mData is location-based, the “input” column is address data, which will be matched against the address that the user texts in. In our example, the addresses of the clinic locations should go in to the “input” column. A location-based mData will need at least the zip code in the “input” column.  The “output” column should be the content of the text message the users receives if they match the corresponding “input” column. Messages over 160 characters will be automatically broken up into 2 text messages by our system. 

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14) After you’ve filled in the spreadsheet with all of the relevant information and saved it on your computer, click Choose File and choose the CSV.

15) Click Preview Entries.

16) Preview the entries on the next screen. If everything looks correct, click Create mData.

17) On the next screen, click Keywords to add the keyword(s) that users will use to query this mData.

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18) You can now text in the keyword and respond with your search term (in this example, your zip code) and make sure you get the correct response!

19) If you choose not to add a keyword, you can trigger this mData in a conversation

 

 

Create a New NON-Location-Based mData (e.g. coupon codes, voter’s guide) Using an Uploaded Spreadsheet

1) On the right hand side menu, under “mData Actions”, click New mData.

2) Give your mData a name (for internal use only), such as “State Populations.”

3) Click the Radio button for Upload a Spreadsheet.

4) Scroll past the Use a Webservice section (because you are uploading a spreadsheet in this example).

5) Usually you want to leave the Send all future replies to this mData, even without a keyword box marked true,but you have the option to uncheck it if you’d like. Leaving this box checked means that if someone texts in the name of a state to find the population, they can continue texting in state names without texting in a keyword first. This creates the best user experience.

6) Decide How Will Users Interact With Your Service?

  • Just text a keyword: Users text in a keyword and get the response that corresponds to that keyword on your spreadsheet.
  • Text a keyword, get a random response: Users text in a keyword and get a random response from your spreadsheet. For example, you could have a spreadsheet database of jokes and people would text in a keyword to receive one of your jokes randomly
  • Text a keyword, get a unique response (one per phone): Users text in a keyword to get one unique response from your spreadsheet. Every time that same user texts in from the same phone, he or she will receive that same response. For example, if you are using unique coupon codes, each code will only be used once, and will be sent to the user over and over again. This helps avoid the problem of people hoarding multiple coupon codes.
  • Text a keyword, get a random response (one per phone): Users text in a keyword and get one random response from your spreadsheet. Each time that phone texts in, it will receive back that same response over and over again. For example, if you are using coupon codes but do not care if multiple people get the same coupon code, each random code will be sent to the user over and over again. This helps avoid the problem of people hoarding multiple coupon codes, but multiple users could end up with the same random coupon code.
  • (default) Text a keyword and search term (e.g. “weather new york”): This is the default setting for mDatas. This means that users can text in a keyword and a search term like “weather [key word] new york [search term]” to look for the weather in New York. You could also use this setting to allow users to text in a keyword, then receive a response asking for a search term. For example, if a user texts in “weather,” he or she will receive an automatic response that says, “What city would you like the weather for?” When the user responds “New York,” the mData will return the weather for New York.

7) Write a customized message in the “Customized ‘No Results Found’ Message” and "Default/Error Response" bubbles. This is the text message users will receive when no matching results can be found (e.g. there are no states that match the user’s spelling).  A best practice is to give a website and/or phone number they can refer to in cases where no locations are near them. 

8) Click Create.
9) On the next screen, click Upload Database.
 
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10)  You can get a sample csv template from the mData tab. 

11)  Fill information into your spreadsheet. Enter any possible search terms that you would like to use in the “input” column of the CSV. For this example, we would include state names, abbreviations and commons misspellings. The “output” column should be the content of the text message the users receives if they match the corresponding “input” column. Messages over 160 characters will automatically be broken up into 2 text messages by our system.
 
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12) After you’ve filled in the spreadsheet with all of the relevant information and saved it on your computer, click Choose File and choose the CSV.
13) Click Preview Entries.
14) Preview the entries on the next screen, and if everything looks correct, click Create mData.
15) On the next screen, click Keywords to add the keyword(s) that users will use to query this mData.
 
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16) You can now text in the keyword and respond with your search term (in this example a state name) and make sure you get the correct response!
17) If you choose not to add a keyword, you can trigger this mData in a conversation
 
 
 

Create a New mData Using a Web Service (Location or Other Search Term)

1) On the right hand side menu, under “mData Actions”, click New mData.

2) Give your mData a name (for internal use only), such as “Clinic Finder.”

3) Click the radio button for Use a Web Service.

  • Fill in the web service URL in the URL box.
  • Choose Request method (GET or POST).
  • Choose Response format (xml, text, or json).
  • If you would like results returned in a format other than our specified mData format, you can compose the response using Liquid Template Language, in the Template box.
  • You can set up custom parameters as well by checking the box for Custom Web Service Parameters.
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4)  Usually you want to leave the Send all future replies to this mData, even without a keyword box marked true,but you have the option to uncheck it if you’d like. Leaving this box checked means that if someone texts in to find their nearest clinic, they can keep texting back different locations to find different clinics, without always having to text in a keyword first. This creates the best user experience.
 
5) Decide How Will Users Interact With Your Service?
  • Just text a keyword: Users text in a keyword and get the response that corresponds to that keyword in your web service.
  • (default) Text a keyword and search term (e.g. “weather new york”): This is the default setting for mDatas. This means that users can text in a keyword and a search term like “weather [key word] new york [search term]” to look for the weather in New York. You could also use this setting to allow users to text in a keyword, then receive a response asking for a search term. For example, if a user texts in “weather,” he or she will receive an automatic response that says, “What city would you like the weather for?” When the user responds “New York,” the mData will return the weather for New York.
 
6) Click Create.
 
7) You can now text in the keyword and respond with your search term, in this example your zip code, and make sure you get the correct response!
 
 
 

mData Actions

If you click into any of your mDatas, on the right hand side, there is a menu called mData Actions.

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1) Edit Details: You can edit any details of your existing mDatas, such as changing the default response, or using a spreadsheet versus using a web service.

2) Upload Database: This is where you can grab a CSV template and/or upload a new spreadsheet for your database.

3) Keywords: You can change the keyword(s) that users will text in to your shortcode to query this mData.

4) Deactivate mData: You will deactivate this mData. Note: if you deactivate an mData, your data will still be there, and you still have access to reporting data. You will have to re-add keywords if you reactivate an mData.

5) Report: Receive a full report of queries for that mData.

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