A new study from comScore Networks analyzes behavioral differences and attitudes among key wireless consumer segments described as:
- The Cellular Generation - 18 to 24 year old young adults grew up with cell phone awareness, experiencing cell phones as a part of their everyday lives
- Transitioners - 25 to 34 year old cell phone users whose usage began to infiltrate everyday life during their teen years and early adulthood
- Adult Adopters - 35 years and older group that was not exposed to cell phone until adulthood, and tend to have the most functional view of cell phones, with many requiring just the basics and showing limited interest in emerging technologies
Serge Matta, senior vice president of comScore Telecommunications Solutions, tells the Center for Media Research: "During the past decade, cell phones have dramatically changed the communication habits of American consumers... As cell phones continue to evolve in terms of design, functionality, and features, it is vital that cell phone providers and manufacturers understand the differing needs and desires of these distinct consumer segments."
I would add cell phone providers, manufacturers AND associations.
I have heard much talk about how to connect with the younger folks entering the workforce. It generally revolves around how to market a meeting to that generation, how to sell a group in which half don't vote on the importance of advocacy, and what cool widgets to add to the Web site. Nothing about cell phones - the one thing, it seems, that somehow bonds all of those groups above.
Last year, we began offering advocacy alerts via cell phone - after I had a member comment that he would have been glad to call his legislator about our issue but he didn't get our action-alert e-mail until two days later. It hit me then that as great as our system was that could send out our alerts with a touch of button to thousands of people on our grassroots action list across the state within minutes - if they didn't read the e-mail until two days later, it didn't really matter. (It was a hard lesson learned the hard way. I shed a tear or two, I promise, for the fallibility of my cherished technology.)
I'm not saying that the ability to view alerts via cell phone has solved all my problems. Far from it. Not all members want to give me a cell phone number (even though I cross my heart and hope to die that I will never call them on their cell phone unless I really, really need to or if it's an advocacy matter of utmost importance that demands immediate attention where your hospital or our state will lose millions of dollars). It makes duplicate work for me, as I have to do the e-mail alert and then record a cell phone alert too (and it's harder to give instructions over a cell phone when members can't type in their zip code on a computer to find out who their legislators are).
But it made me start thinking differently. It made me start thinking about the services that could be pushed to a cell phone. And not all are expensive - some are even free. During our get-out-the-vote efforts for 2006 elections, we used a free service, txtvoter, to allow our members and their employees to begin the process to register to vote via cell phone. They even let us create a banner, free of charge, to post on blogs and Web sites. (Click here to see ours - look in the upper righthand corner.)
I felt like those two offerings were really just dipping my toe in the water - letting our staff and our members get used to the idea. (After all, it could just be another one of Shawn's crazy ideas.) Recently, I began investigating what other associations are offering in this area. Here are some great ideas from other associations to steal (or borrow, if you're squeamish):
- The Wisconsin Alumni Association offers cell phone backgrounds on their Web site. Great shots from around their campus...ready for your cell phone.
- The Dallas Mavericks, a member of the National Basketball Association, offers free ringtones to Cingular customers featuring the players and coach telling you to pick up your phone.
- The Canadian Diabetes Association recently began their Project Redialâ„¢ program - which allows diabetes advocates to donate their old cell phones to the association. In addition to promoting reuse and recycling, the program raises funds for diabetes research, education and advocacy. The American Lung Association of MIchigan held a similar cell phone drive.
How could your association use your members' cell phones to advance your mission? What are you doing now? Leave a comment here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the press release about this study here or request a copy of the full report here.