10 Blips On Your Radar for 2010: #1 MOBILE

In the coming days and weeks we’ll be sharing 10 things you should have on your radar screen for 2010. If you’re already on top of them – mazel tov. Share with us what you’re doing in the comments. If not, time to get hip to the new decade. Don’t put it off. This isn’t the future, it’s the present, so pay attention.

To kick us off, mobile mobile mobile. Everybody’s got a phone in their pocket, and increasingly it’s a pretty intelligent one. The iPhone, Blackberry, Android and others are taking over the market, and shaking up the status quo. Assume that people are looking for and engaging with you while on the go, not just while sitting at their desk.

Some things to know:

  1. Compose your emails for easy reading on a mobile device. Send a test and check it out on a Blackberry and iPhone. Some Blackberry users are reporting a lack of patience with graphic emails because it takes too much time to wade through. “Give me the bullet points and important information straight up and in brief” seems to be the attitude.
  2. Start learning about fundraising via mobile. I just made my first donation by text message to a radio show I love, This American Life, when I saw a tweet. $5 went on my AT&T bill. So easy! Check out http://www.mobilegiving.org/ to see how they do it. Sophist Productions has been hosting events (a UJA Young Leadership cocktail party, for example) where people “text to pledge” their donation, and pledges are projected on the wall. Yes, it is a new world. And it works. Read more here on text-to-give programs.
  3. Redesigning or tuning up your website? Make sure you’ve got a mobile friendly version. Check out a Google tool here to see what your web site can look like on a mobile browser. Beth Kanter iPhone-ized her blog with an easy $200 IPhone app tool. Learn about it here.
  4. Twitter was conceived of, and largely used as a mobile tool. Thus, don’t neglect this community when you are putting together a mobile strategy.

Want to learn more?

http://mobileactive.org/ is a great org with useful resources and a discussion list on how nonprofits are using mobile in their work.

http://www.mobilecommons.com/ offers services for marketing, advocacy and fundraising via mobile (and thanks to Mobile Commons for donating their services for our Boot Camps)

http://www.mobilecitizen.org/ has excellent resources for mobile use in education and nonprofits.

Great resources from Wild Apricot: Is Your Nonprofit Website Mobile-Friendly?

Examples of cool, mission-centric mobile uses from nonprofits, on Beth Kanter’s Blog

Dipping Toes into Mobile, Thanks to Mobile Commons

At our recent Social Media Boot Camp kickoff event on Long Island, we completed evaluations through text messaging on our phones. Yes, the prevalence of smartphones (iphone, Blackberry, etc.) means that more and more is going mobile. For example, the recent success of Twitter is largely due to the fact that many users participate via their mobile device, not (or more than) their computer. Like the rise of broadband made online video possible, the rise of smartphone use is driving a whole new world of mobile connectivity, information, advocacy and action.

Mobile evaluations on an iPhone
Mobile evaluations on an iPhone

Thanks to generous support from Mobile Commons, we designed our evaluations via text message to model this, help participants experience this sort of mobile activity, and to make data collection easier for us! Mobile Commons set up a short code and keyword. When participants send the keyword to that number, they got the first question. Rate on a scale of 1-5 … type 4 and hit send. Next question pops up. And so on. And on the backend, we have a spreadsheet of data that’s easy to crunch, sort, and process.

I learned about this when NTEN did their session evaluations with Mobile Commons at their last conference. I really didn’t believe how easy it would be until I tried it.

Mobile Commons does great advocacy campaigns with their product. At our “Facebook, Twitter, Mobile, What’s Next?” session at the GA next month we’ll be learning to text-to-pledge fundraising campaigns too.

As Dru Greenwood, head of SYNERGY at UJA Federation of New York said in her closing comments, “and, I just sent my first text message!” Many heads nodded. In fact a decent handful of people had just sent their first text, including some Blackberry users!

Mobile Mobile Mobile

I know mobile is the future. To some degree I experience it and participate, for example through Twitter. I use Twitter both personally (@LisaColton) and professionally (@DarimOnline), and use Twitter clients on my iphone to read and post and connect all over the place. The last 48 hours at NTEN have perhaps been the most prolific to date – there’s so many excellent nuggets of wisdom here. (Check out my twitter stream, and the #09NTC steam from all participants).

But as I think about mobile fundraising campaigns, etc. I remain somewhat skeptical. Let me revise that: I feel that the technology is still “in the way”, and as Clay Shirky said this morning, “the tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.” Mobile technology just isn’t boring yet, but it is moving from awkward to interesting.

My conference session evaluation via SMS, on my iPhone
My conference session evaluation via SMS, on my iPhone

NTEN has engaged Mobile Commons to set up a text message based evaluation system for this conference. That’s right, you TEXT your rating and comments, rather than writing it on paper. Less paper, easier to compile the data, super convenient. I was at first confused how it would work, but then I just went for it — texted the session number NTC189 to the short code they gave us 68966. Half a second later the first questions popped up. I entered my rating and hit send. The next question. IT WAS SO SIMPLE and satisfying. Success. I do expect that it will take some time before the masses are comfortable with such uses of mobile, but the future will be here shortly, and thus it’s useful for us to learn what the early adopters are doing, and start to dip our toes in the water.

Other examples shared here have been integrated with video, advocacy campaigns, fundraising and more. What’s the lesson? Though you may not be using mobile campaigns now, it is the future, and thus you should be collecting your constituents cell phone numbers now. They will come in handy a few months or years down the road.

New Pew Study Shows Importance of Internet/Cell Phone Use in Families

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a new study titled “Networked Families”. The report paints a picture of how “parents and spouses are using the internet and cell phones to create a new connectedness that builds on remote connections and shared internet experiences”. The majority of American families now are empowered with multiple tools, including desktop and laptop computers, cell phones, and broadband internet, which make possible a new type of connectedness. These patterns of connection within the family shed light on how families prioritize time, seek out and experience meaningful activities, and relate to both people and institutions.

Pew Internet & American Life Project, "Networked Families"
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, "Networked Families"

One interesting finding is that the majority of adults say that technology has enabled their family life today to be as close or closer than they remember their families being when they were growing up. While the technologies have perhaps increased time that adults spend at the office and/or working from home, the study reports that they have not had a negative impact on family closeness.

In fact, people say these new communication tools help them stay more connected to family and friends throughout the day, not just during “leisure” time. And approximately 25% of online adults report watching less TV as a result of their internet use. This is an important statistic, as internet use is more likely to be characterized by interaction (email, blogging or microblogging, recommending resources to others, signing up for events or purchasing goods, etc.) rather than passive observation (TV).

“There had been some fears that the Internet had been taking people away from each other,” said Barry Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the report, published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. “We found just the opposite.” Wellman said families appreciated the innovations because “they know what each other is doing during the day.” This, he said, comports with his other research, which shows that technology “doesn’t cut back on their physical presence with each other. It has not cut down on their face time.

The report finds that “some 52% of internet users who live with a spouse and one or more children go online with another person at least a few times a week. Another 34% of such families have shared screen moments at least occasionally,” and “more than half of the parents (54%) who use the internet go online with another person a few times a week or more.”

These findings are important for our understanding of technology in Jewish life as well. Our missions are not just about getting people into the building or attending programs, they are also about impacting individuals and families, bringing (and strengthening) Jewish knowledge and practice in the home and the family. Thus, it’s critical that we understand how families are using technology, and that we are “there” when they are sharing information with one another, planning activities, and discussing important family matters.

How do you take advantage of this level of connectivity to bring your message and offering into the homes of your constituents? How have you observed the impact of such “connectivity” on your work?

I’ll leave you with two examples from my own life:

Story #1: Our 4 yr old son attends the synagogue’s preschool. The preschool has a blog (private, for parents only) and posts photos, stories and curricular info there. I read it in my Google Reader, and when there is something important (photo of our kid, a great story, request for volunteers for a field trip), I forward the link to my husband, and we often end up discussing it with our kids at the dinner table. This level of insight into our son’s experience would not be possible without the blog, and without both parents having connected on XYZ topic mid-afternoon, our dinner table conversation may not have been about the preschool, synagogue or Judaic content

Story #2: I’m on the AJWS email list. Prior to Passover, I received an email about a publication drawing connections between the conflict in Darfur and the Exodus story. I downloaded the PDF, emailed it to my husband and friends with whom we were having seder. We exchanged emails about how we would include it our seder. I then uploaded the PDF to the Kinkos website, ordered color print outs, picked them up on my way home, and included this valuable resource in our seder.

What are examples from your personal and/or professional life?