Here are Connecting Up, we offer low-cost technology solutions to the sector through our partnerships with leading technology companies and so it’s we get to see what’s happening in the technology world and look for ways that other not-for-profits can benefit – and mobile is shaking things up. Our partners like Microsoft are offering more mobile apps, Citrix have developed a great companion app for their GoTo webinar and meeting platforms and of course Hootsuite is all about mobile and helping people manage their social media accounts from one app.
When it comes to mobile technology, it’s pretty hard to ignore how prevalent it is throughout our daily life. We see it everywhere, and a lot has changed in a few short years. Take this comparison from Vatican City between 2005 and 2013 when two popes were announced. This really says everything right? In 2005, there’s that person in the bottom right of the picture with a flip phone and an awesome back-lit keypad all the chatter back then was about how mobile phones were getting smaller and lighter. But in 2013, there’s someone taking footage of the scene on an iPad in a sea of LED screens.
In 2014, we’re seeing mobile technology jump forward in leaps and bounds and if we take a step back from our day-to-day Facebook updates and photos of food on Instagram, we can see that what we’re doing with our mobile devices and the technology in our hands is really the stuff of science fiction.
And that’s exciting. But it can also be very challenging.
There are 31.09 million mobile services in Australia (that’s including services for mobile phones, tablets, USB dongles etc.) To put it in perspective, there are more mobile services than the population of Australia
There’s also been in increase in people with smartphones in Australia to 11.19 million, but the stats also suggest that people are using other mobile devices or services as well such as tablets or mobile broadband connections.
Of course, what makes a smartphone smart really comes down to the apps which are installed on it and the hundreds of thousands of apps that are available to us to enhance our mobile phones are bringing with them significant disruptions in a number of areas.
Communications: Social media is by far one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in recent years and it’s easy to see how it’s been accelerated through the use of mobile technology. Our communications through our phones isn’t just voice and text, but we send pictures, photos and video with relative ease.
Entertainment: Not only are people downloading games, watching videos and listening to music on their phones, people are also using their phones as a secondary device to enhance their entertainment experience. Have you ever seen an actor in a movie on TV and wondered where you’ve seen them from? Grab your phone or tablet and look it up. People are also engaging with shows through social media and we’re seeing more and more shows displaying tweets alongside the broadcast content.
Productivity: We’re using mobile to get work done on the go. We’re also seeing a lot more productivity apps like note taking and task management apps being used. Not just that though, there are apps to track calories and exercise, apps that turn your phone into a baby monitor and plenty of others that help mobile devices meet very specific needs. Oh, and there’s a clock. How many times have you pulled your phone out just to check the time? That’s a pretty fancy pocket watch you have there.
Consumption: People are using their phones to make purchases through dedicated mobile apps, but also using their phones to access information about products they may want to purchase. You can see people on their phones in shops looking up items, reviews and competitor pricing to try and get the best deal they can.
In fact, when it comes to information access, there was a huge 33% increase in people using their phones to access the internet between June 2012 and June 2013.
And of course, how we share information about ourselves and about the things we care about has significantly changed now that we have ways to capture our surroundings and broadcast it to our friends and families from right in our pockets.
This next slide then shouldn’t be too surprising.
When it comes to the types of apps people are downloading, games and social networking are at the top of the list. What’s interesting is that Banking and finance, productivity and lifestyle apps are all sort of coming a close second together and shopping education and transport coming in third – which says a lot about how people are using their phones and what sort of apps they’re interested in.
For not-for-profit organisations looking to engage a mobile audience, this should spark ideas about how you can help your community do one or more of these three things.
1) Help people have fun
Entertainment is growing rapidly on mobile. Higher speed internet connections at lower costs mean that more people are watching, listening and playing more content than ever. Tapping into this in a fun way can help spread your message and also have an impact on how your audience perceives you.
The Dumb Ways to Die app is a great example of a game that accompanies an awareness campaign about railway safety. It’s fairly straightforward, but has been downloaded by people from around the globe, not just in Melbourne.
2) Help people share things
Mobile technology and social go hand in hand. Generally speaking, we’re social beings and want to feel connected to others. How we feel we connect may be different. It could be the number of likes or shares we get on our Facebook updates or comments on our photos of food on Instagram, and for others it’s about rallying together to make a difference.
One example is from the council here in Adelaide City where they crowdsource information about work that needs to be done. Community members can report things like potholes or graffiti and see what other people have reported as well. It’s a way of engaging the community to share in supporting itself.
3) Help people do things
People use their phones to get stuff done. Whether it’s cooking or shopping or setting three alarms to wake up on Monday morning – mobile phones are a utility.
One app developed in part by Alzheimers Australia was making headlines not that long ago as a tool to help people exercise their brain. Not only did it give people something practical to do that helped them in the short term, it was also an excellent way to raise awareness about dementia.
So, there you have it. If you want to engage an increasingly mobile audience and want to use an app to do so, keep these three elements in mind. If you can achieve one or more of these or add elements of each into whatever you’re producing, your app will be closer to hitting the mark of a successful app.