Mobile Advocacy Strategy

by Jeff Mascott

Cross-posted from K Street Cafe

We’re living in a mobile age. You can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone on their smart phone. And now with the stunningly fast growth in sales for iPads, people are spending less and less time at their actual computers.

Wired magazine famously declared last year that “The Web is Dead.” In the article, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argue that we’re abandoning the web for sleeker, simpler services. They say that “these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into [people’s] lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen).” People are no longer interested in seeking. They are interested in getting.

In today’s world, people are constantly on the go. And so naturally, staying connected and receiving information happens on the go as well. In fact, a recent study by Flurry found that people are now spending more time on mobile apps than they are on websites. Consumers in June spent 74 minutes per day on websites compared with 81 minutes using applications. That’s a growth of 91 percent over the past year. The data speaks for itself: mobile apps are crucial in reaching audiences.

So what does this mean for advocacy? Web sites alone will no longer cut it. Sure, your online Grassroots Action Centers and the Web tools you employ for grassroots action (for example, providing the opportunity for your activists to send emails directly to Congress) should remain part of your overall advocacy strategy. But you have to look beyond the Web now.

Some advocacy organizations have begun to embrace this growing trend. In the beginning of June, the ONE campaign launched an iPhone app dedicated to encouraging activism in order to enact social change. In short, the app provides the user with relevant information about “various advocacy movements…then lets you call a senator, sign a petition or join up with a real life rally for causes in order to raise awareness.” The interest in the app has been tremendous. During its first two weeks, the free application recorded more than 20,000 downloads.*

Other grassroots groups have actually been taking advantage of this innovative tool for awhile. In June 2010, The Poker Players Alliance created an iPhone app that allows users to take a variety of actions. Directly from their iPhone, a user can get the latest PPA news and updates, connect with other PPA members, and actually donate via PayPal. Even better, it has a ‘click to call Congress’ feature, where users can simply click a button and be automatically connected via phone to their member of Congress’ office in Washington, D.C. For all of those poker enthusiasts on the go, it has never been easier, and less time-consuming, to take action.

Remember this: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If you are asking your audience to take action, it only matters if you reach them where they are paying attention. Consider utilizing mobile apps in your next advocacy campaign. The results may astound you.