You have to read me to delete me… bwahaha!

So this week, we were asked to read about mobile communications.  How can we help a public health organization with some of the material we’ve read?


This article written by Maeve Duggan really breaks down the demographics of types of people and types of cellular phone activities that some 2000 people use.  This right here, is GREAT field research for someone who is trying to push for mobile communication as an avenue to get their product or message “out there.”  The data in this article can really help give you information about how to reach your target audience.  Which means, of course, you’d have to have a target audience in mind.

A WHO article written in 2011 called “mHealth: New Horizons for Health through Mobile Technologies” reports that:

The penetration of mobile phone networks in many low- and middle-income countries surpasses other infrastructure such as paved roads and electricity, and dwarfs fixed Internet deployment.

This is a tremendous opportunity to use mobile phones to reach populations that cannot be reached by traditional avenues.


findings(Source: Pew Research Center)

The idea that 91% of American adults have cell phones means that some kind of mass communication tool through the use of cell phones can clearly be a great way to reach a lot of people.  Contests like American Idol have engaged viewers all across the country to use their cell phones to vote for their favorite contestants — it empowers viewers/users to feel like they are a part of something bigger than they are, but can contribute something of significance to influence change.  These are all ideal for public health causes, too!

A public health organization may want to reach Americans via mobile phone.  Using the table above, a variety of cell phone activities can be selected to send such a message.  Clearly, 81% of mobile phone users send/receive text messages, so it would be a good place to start.  Although 60% of users access the internet, is that novel enough?  People can access the internet at home, usually.  Same goes for email.  But what about the 50% who reported downloading and using apps?  Maybe it’s worth a shot to build an app to help get your health message out there.

The beauty of a text message is that you can’t really delete one without reading it!  A modified KISS method (keep it short & simple!) is the best way to share information, even as the user is deleting the text!  Now that we know we want to use text messages as our mode of communication, we’ll have to think about who do we want to reach?  Seniors?  Tweeners?

text2(Source: Pew Research Center)

Now if we wanted to explore the text messaging avenue, we’d see that the vast majority who use text messaging are between the ages of 18-49.  We also see that although not the majority (which would be some college, or college and more), a significant portion of texters have no high school diploma or just graduated from high school.  This gives us valuable information in terms of the level of literacy that we would have to anticipate using when reaching out to a wide population.  Additionally, household income tells a story, too, as many people earn less than $50,000.  So considerations to possible types of occupations and access to resources must also be made.

Using a study done by the Pew Research Center, we have a lot of our demographic information already!  The next component would be to develop the public service announcement using a team of creative minds.  What kind of text message would you send?  I would imagine the ideal text message will be short and sweet (don’t want to leak into a 2-message situation), and perhaps offer a link that recipients can click on to get more information.  But some people may not click on the link, so the message itself has to be powerful!  Other considerations would be to develop a text message subscription option using another vendor such as RapidSMS, Mobile Commons,   EZTexting to build a longer relationship and increase opportunities to send messages!


3 thoughts on “You have to read me to delete me… bwahaha!

  1. Sun nice summary. I wonder if the clicking to another link for more information required a mobile website and would it be too much to manage for small non profits? BTW hope the hurricanes leave you alone.

  2. That’s true. Smaller organizations might not be able to have the staffing to maintain and update a web site. But what if they linked already established web sites made and maintained by larger organizations? For example, if a small nonprof working to improve the physical activity levels of their community sent a text message that said “Did you do your 60 minutes of exercise today? Check __insert link from American Heart Association about benefits of exercise here__” then perhaps it would alleviate the cost of having to maintain the site? Though it could be argued that someone at the nonprof would need to have the time to do the research to find the links to provide!

    Hoping the hurricanes leave me alone, too! I’m trying really hard to finish my assignments today in case I lose power! 😦

  3. Sun, that’s a good way of putting it, you actually have to read then delete. I guess the real challenge for us is to come up with messages that are not only short and sweet but interesting enough to share, not delete. 🙂

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