Community powers authentic two-way text messaging at scale with Twilio

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Community is an SMS marketing platform that connects businesses, brands, political & public figures, creators, musicians, celebrities, and more, to their audiences at scale.

Since its founding in 2019, Community has experienced massive growth on its platform, which is favored by high-profile figures such as Justin Bieber and President Barack Obama as well as businesses such as McDonald’s, Williams Sonoma and Showtime. 

Community’s mission is to enable its customer base of “Leaders”—global pop culture stars, local community organizers, small business owners, brands, businesses and Fortune 500 companies—to drive conversations that increase brand loyalty, build trust, and create impact. To achieve this, the Community team needed a communications partner that would help them navigate the complexities of text messaging at scale, which has now reached more than 7 billion messages sent, while allowing them to reliably serve their customers’ needs. 

“Twilio understands the urgency to ensure everyone- from a small local business owner, to an A-list musician, is able to receive the texts they send out”

Zach Shunk Head Of Special Projects

Twilio’s Programmable Messaging API and application-to-person 10-digit long codes (A2P 10DLC) became the heart of Community’s texting capabilities. Prior SMS technologies such as P2P (person to person) couldn’t facilitate the necessary throughput and Community also experienced filtering and blocking. Twilio’s SMS on A2P 10DLC overcame these drawbacks and has helped build a more authentic and engaging dialogue between Leaders and their audiences, enabling Community’s platform to grow to 20 million active subscribers in just 10 months.

“When faced with that type of scale and intensity of problems, the Twilio team was right there with us, making these solutions appear out of thin air,” Shunk said. “Twilio really has been an amazing partner for us.”

Creating authentic connections that lead to positive outcomes

There are numerous channels through which Leaders can connect with their fans—whether it be from a stage, a community event, or a post on social media. But in today’s mobile-driven landscape, no channel is quite as intimate as text messaging. However, in order to form meaningful connections with fans through SMS, Leaders must first cut through the noise.

With Twilio, Community is able to equip Leaders with a 10-digit phone number that their fans can text, and subsequently opt-in to receive messages, while providing some personal information. Messages from Leaders can then be deployed to all subscribers, or filtered to a subset of users based on provided customer data which could include age, location, or interests. 

“When you get a message from a [10-digit long code] phone number with the business or celebrity’s area code, and their contact information is saved in your phone, such as Williams Sonoma or Barack Obama, it creates a better branding opportunity for that business or Leader to make a connection,” Shunk explained.

Another pillar of Community’s partnership with Twilio is scale. When President Obama launched his first text messaging campaign with Community, he received more than 300 thousand replies. “That could sound intimidating,” Shunk said. “But the way we’ve built our product and what makes us special is our machine learning and technology on the backend, which organizes the inbound responses and makes it easy for the Leader to respond to clusters or groups of messages in an authentic way.”

Once a Leader is registered with a phone number, it’s up to them to develop a connection with their audience—prominent Community users have harnessed the platform for activism, fan engagement, promotion, sales, and more. Community enables users to fully customize each touchpoint to create true brand consistency. “We want it to feel authentically like another branch of the Leader’s brand,” Shunk said.

What’s next for Community

According to Shunk, a key evolution of Community’s product is an international launch. Currently, the company operates in the US and Canada, but is looking to expand into other countries as soon as possible. 

“Opening up internationally will be exciting,” he said. The team is also developing new solutions designed specifically to support enterprise services, he added. “We’ve focused on personal communication at scale, which is more of the celebrity and public figure use case, but now we’re branching out into other verticals and building tech that serves those customers.”

As Community grows and the company’s technology needs to expand, Shunk said Twilio will remain a close partner. 

“When it comes to Community’s success, a lot of it has been built by Twilio,” Shunk said. “I worked with the original, all-star Twilio team every hour of every day for about a year, and we were in the trenches together. We wouldn’t exist without Twilio’s diligence and commitment to us.” 

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