With over 85% of our population using cell phones it’s important that as Public Health professionals we understand how to best utilize this avenue of communication. Living in a rural area, I was under the impression that using mobile communications would not be effective and that it would also be too difficult. However, after reading, “ Cell Phone Usage in 2015,” by the Pew Research Center, I’m realizing that this may not be the case, and that developing up a health campaign may be easier than I had previous thought. After doing some research and some readings, these are the reasons why I feel mobile communication is easier than I had thought.
First reason; Mobile communication tools are easy to use! After looking into Verboice and Mobile Commons, I was shocked that in less than 10 minutes I learned how to use a mobile communication tool. The trainings are straightforward and break down each step that you need to take in order to set up an account. As I said, I was shocked that a person like me, with no background or prior knowledge could learn how to use a tool so quickly. In addition, these tools are web-based interfaced, have great group based messaging, are simple to use and allow you to unify your communication.
Second reason; Your message is 140 characters or less! For some reason that is less intimidating to me. As long as you have a strong media campaign, with a well thought plan and purpose, crafting out a message for your audience that in less than 140 characters seems less daunting. Not to mention that the use of images should be limited. To me this all boils down to “less is more” when using this type of strategy.
Third reason; A mobile campaign should be simple! In “Social Media for Social Good,” Mansfield points out that if navigation is complex than mobile users can become overwhelmed. If they become overwhelmed they are less likely to use your site and therefore unlikely to hear your message. Your mobile website, like your message, needs to be simple. This again, puts me at ease when thinking of having to put together mobile campaign.
It is also important that before you launch your own campaign to look at what others are doing. When looking into mobile health campaigns I came across, Wazazi Nipendeni (Parents Love Me). This is a multi-media campaign in Tanzania, which uses text messages to promote healthy pregnancies and motherhood. On their website, they state that one of their goals is to, “harness mobile phone technology and text messaging to reduce maternal and infant mortality numbers by three-quarters by 2015.” By seeing what others are doing, and how they are using this tool to transform health, I kept thinking how simple this all seems. Prior to learning about the mobile media tools I was so convinced that this form of communication was too difficult to coordinate and organization. However, after learning about the actual tools that I could use, the messaging and the simplicity of it all, I cannot help but to feel excited when thinking about the new media tools I have discovered.