No smartphone? No problem.

“Your dumb-phone is not welcome here!” I have heard these words and felt left out when it comes to connectivity with mobile technology. As a response, I say my “dumb-phone” keeps me just as connected and more focused while on the go. True, my phone may not access the internet from the tractor seat, but thanks to smart use of text messaging, I can tweet from horseback, access market updates, send and receive Facebook notifications, and keep up with every score of my favorite sports teams. With a little planning, I can keep up with the smartphone users and invest much less money in mobile technology.

The first step in connecting with your dumb-phone is to invest in an unlimited text-messaging plan. Most phone providers offer unlimited plans starting at $10 per month. The next step is to jump online and adjust the mobile settings for your social media, marketing, and other web accounts. Connect your accounts to improve your access (blog posts to your Twitter feed, or Twitter feed updates to your Facebook status). I am no pro at mobile technology, but the following are a sample of the mobile applications I use to stay connected via text message.

Twitter – Probably the easiest social media site to connect with via text messaging. I can do just about everything on Twitter with a text: tweet your followers, send direct messages, follow specific users and retweet someone’s latest post. The downside: it is a bit difficult to add links or photos to your tweets and follow hashtags via text message, but that can saved for scheduling tweets on your home computer through applications like Hootsuite or photo blogs like Tumblr.

Facebook – This is probably my second most frequent use of social media via text message. I can update my status, subscribe to a friend’s updates, upload photos from my phone, poke friends, post on someone’s wall, or even send private messages. Several other applications have mobile settings, but these are the most frequently used. Once again, it is difficult to add links or stalk people via text message, but that can save us from the Facebook addiction.

Tumblr – As I mentioned above, photo blogging is an easy way to add photos to your Twitter feed. Tumblr is a popular micro-blogging site that offers easy photo uploads via text message. I text a photo to my account, and because Tumblr offers linked accounts to Twitter, my photos are posted as links on my Twitter feed. When you get home, it is easy to add captions to your photo posts and my page collects several shares from others looking for Tumblr photos.

YouTube – If your SMS-enabled phone has a camera, it probably has video capability. This is one is new to me, but I have found it is a great way to post 30-second video updates online. YouTube sends me a confirmation of my upload with a link that is then easy to share in a tweet or other updates. Once again, it is easy to update settings and titles when you get home at night. Downside: size and length of video files is limited via text message, so you will have to save those longer videos for uploading at home.

Blogging – If you are like me, several blog post ideas come to mind during the workday. Instead of losing those ideas, or trying to find a place to write them down, I just text message my blog post prompts to my blogging account. Sites like Blogger and WordPress have text message capabilities. Depending on your settings, posts via text message can be saved as drafts or be a direct post. It is difficult to send large posts, but short thoughts, photos or prompts are an easy task. Comments and other settings can be managed via text message as well.

Connecting with text messages is not limited to social media. With account settings on my favorite websites, I can receive breaking news updates from local and national networks, score updates through ESPN, market updates on relevant commodities, or send and receive emails. Through services like Google (466-453) or Cha-Cha (242-242), I can ask random questions, receive forecast information, or find addresses and phone numbers for a local business.

Most websites where you have an account have mobile notification settings. Just take a minute at home to update these settings and improve your access. Remember, it is not always about keeping up with the Jones’ and not everyone needs a smartphone. Sometimes having less information (and distractions) at our fingertips can be a good thing.

Do you have any more recommendations for staying connected via text messages and dumb-phones?

Ryan Goodman comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about production systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan recently moved to Tennessee to begin work on a Master’s degree. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same. Ryan’s daily blog updates can be found at


  1. Jamie Johansen says:

    I do have a smartphone and have had one for about three years. I admit I am addicted. The only time it’s not in my pocket or within sight is when I am working outside or checking cattle and that is only because I don’t have any signal on the farm. However, after reading, “Sometimes having less information (and distraction) at our fingertips can be a good thing,” really got me thinking about how distracting my smartphone can be. I do use apps like Facebook and Twitter to stay in the social media realm, but all those other apps I just had to have do get in the way of the simpler things in life. I had no idea you could do all those things from a dumb-phone. I look forward to sharing that info with others…thanks!

  2. Thanks Jamie! Glad to hear someone with a smart phone agrees with me as well! Would it be nice to have the internet at my finger tips? Sure, but its kinda nice being left alone once in a while! Let me know if you come up with any more uses for text messaging.