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Messenger keeps students connected

Students, professors and those affiliated with USF may feel as if they cannot keep up with all the activities on campus. These same people may also want to receive discounts on goods and services in the Tampa Bay area.

Information Technologies’ program MoBull Messenger helps to serve both of these purposes.

“(MoBull Messenger) is used as an informational tool regarding University events and announcements, as well as a way for local vendors to offer discounts to the USF community in a fast and effective way,” said Michele Joel, marketing manager of USF’s Information Technologies.

The MoBull Messenger service is free and available to all those affiliated with USF.

“It is a benefit of attending and being associated with USF,” Joel said. “The only possible charge would be from the subscriber’s wireless provider. Most wireless plans today include text messaging for free or at a very low cost. We’re glad we are able to offer the service free of charge to further enhance the USF experience.”

Signing up for the MoBull Messenger service begins by visiting the Web site . The subscriber then decides if they want their messages sent to an e-mail address, cell phone or PDA.

“Customers enter a Web site through a secure login,” the Web site reads, “and provide personal data including age range, gender and zip code. These data are used only to set a profile of all MoBull subscribers and are not used for targeting specific individuals.”

Joel said that messengers who post messages to go out on the MoBull Messenger system do not have access to the personal information of the subscribers, which is in accordance with University policies.

“The messenger calls up (with the message) or they go to the Web site and type in the message,” Joel said. “The message goes to us and we have to approve the message for release. If a vendor (messenger) or USF department or organization is already approved by the USF IT department and they understand and agree to adhere to terms of service and USF IT message content, they may send out messages directly to the USF database Web site, which will be directed to registered subscribers based on their customized selections.”

Among the preferences available are “a privacy time option through which the subscriber can specify a time of the day/night for which they do not wish to receive notifications,” stated the Web site.

Since its inception in the spring of 2002, “almost 9,000 (people) are registered subscribers. (There are) about five to eight new subscribers a day,” Joel said.

Vendors in the Tampa Bay area, also known as messengers, are utilizing MoBull Messenger to reach the USF community.

“We have between 50 and 80 messengers enrolled at any given time,” Joel said. “They range from radio stations, local entertainment venues, USF departments and student organizations, restaurants and retail stores.”

Ryan Garson of Midnite Productions enjoys the flexibility advertising on MoBull Messenger gives him.

“Since I have so many different clubs and bars I promote for, I like to send multiple messages out a week. I put together an organized campaign of messages that mix up the different nights that I am promoting with different offers,” Garson said. “Some of my messages sent are ads promoting a special I am doing or offering a discount. When I offer a discount I have the ability to track how effective MoBull Messenger is.”

Kelley Jackson, a senior marketing major, signed up for the service about two years ago and still has it. She signed up for the service directly with Joel, who had a booth at Fantastic Friday.

Jackson said she was “skeptical of the safety of information (on MoBull Messenger),” but after talking to Joel and realizing that her information would be safe because MoBull Messenger was a service provided through the University, she was sold on the idea.

“I like that I can discontinue the service at any time,” Jackson said, since she may leave the Tampa Bay area after graduation and would no longer need the service.

Jackson said MoBull Messenger is good for new students because “it’s a great way for them to feel comfortable and know what’s happening. It is a way to get students involved.”