June 10, 2009

20 tips for mobile advocacy

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mobile-advocacyKatrin VerclasMobile social marketing works in increasing awareness and moving people to actions. It is also becoming an effective way to engage users and constituents. Throughout our experience with mobile campaigns, we’ve run into the some great campaigns and some failures as well. In our ongoing series of articles and case studies on using mobiles for advocating for an issue and engaging a constituency, here are our top ten things that nonprofits should and shouldn’t do when running a mobile advocacy campaign.

The dos of mobile advocacy

1. Mobile messaging should be about interaction, not just pitch — a hard notion to learn for advocacy organizations used to pushing email messages by the millions. Mobiles offer a unique opportunity for interacting with a constituent. Advocacy organizations need to think about mobile marketing as a conversation, a way to talk two-ways with constituents.

2. Trust is key as the mobile medium is so very personal. Gain permission and offer relevant and timely content that is valuable to the recipient. Note how to opt out regularly and never ever spam.

3. Pull people to mobile interaction through other media — ads, billboards, the web and offer, in turn, mobile interaction with those media. Think of mobile as an acquisition tool.

4. Know your constituency. Be careful when targeting your demographics and make your ask accordingly — asking an older constituency to upload mobile photos is not going to be very successful.

5. Be relevant. Offer timely news and functional updates that are of interest to your audience — and be clever. Just by way of an idea: The American Lung Association could offer air quality updates via sms for where I live. If engaged in a campaign where I am signing a mobile petition, for example, let me know how it’s going — how many signatures have been gathered, for example. Remind me of events I have signed up for or activities that are part of an organization’s campaign. Give me information I want and need just-in-time when I need it.

6. Be action-oriented. Ask me to forward a note, ask me to make a call, ask me to express myself in a some way in a poll, in a 160 character message, poem or statement. Ask me to do something.

7. Ask me how I want to engage and give me choices. If we are interacting via SMS, do not ask me for my email address first. Give me an option to get SMS reminders when I sign up for an event with you. Tell me how to disengage. Let me opt in to a mobile alert via the web, via a 1-800 number and via a short code/SMS. Move me to the next level when using mobile as an acquisition strategy. Think about that ladder of engagement carefully.

8. Mobile marketing works best when it’s pull, not push, and there is an opportunity for people to express themselves — to ‘talk’ back, to suggest, to respond.

9. Be creative. (See examples in this handout.) In addition to text messaging and sms campaigns, there are lot of other ways in which an advocacy organization can use mobile campaign tactics.

10. Most importantly: Be whole-media. Integrate your mobile marketing and messaging into your entire media and messaging campaign. Know what mobile is good for and for what it’s not.

The don’ts of mobile advocacy

1. Don’t ask me to sign up with my mobile number and then never contact me with a text message until months later. Opt me in right away with an immediate SMS reply and then start talking to me and move me into a conversation with you.

2. Don’t bombard me with messages. Too many messages are obnoxious and a sure way for me to immediately opt out of any further communications.< 3. Don’t be quiet about how to opt out — I need to know that texting STOP, END, OUT all get me out of further communications from you.

4. Don’t give me ambiguous information (160 characters is not a lot!) in a text message or information impossible to understand because it’s in texting gibberish. Test your messages to be sure that a recipient understands them and they are crystal clear.

5. Don’t let me guess what you are asking me to act upon. Always ask me to do something in your message — forward, call, text back, sign, you name it. Text messages are highly actionable. Because if you don’t ask, I won’t do anything.

6. Don’t give me any irrelevant information I don’t need or can’t use. That would be the event alert AFTER the event has already happened.

7. Don’t text me at 4 am in the morning.

8. Don’t use just mobile as a stand-alone medium. When I go to your website, I should see a reference to the mobile portion of the campaign — a short code to text into, text messages from supporters, campaign results including those generated by mobile, a widget to sign up, whatever makes sense in the context of your campaign.

9. Don’t expect huge returns – at least initially. Return on investment will take time to materialize. Do measure the returns, though!

10. Don’t be dour. Use humor, be personable, engage me and make me smile. I will like you better.

Photo credit: hoyasmeg

This post originally appeared at MobileActive.org.


A user’s guide to mobile activism (Socialbrite)

How to set up an SMS campaign system (Socialbrite)

10 mobile apps for social good (Socialbrite)Katrin Verclas is co-founder and editor of MobileActive.org, a global network of practitioners using mobile phones for social impact. See her profile, contact Katrin or leave a comment.

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