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Using Mobile Technologies for Outreach and Education

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Welcome to Tech Soup Talks. This is Kami Griffiths (KG) and today's topic is Using Mobile for Outreach and Education. I am joined by Michael Shabot (MS) and Adam Shyevitch (AS). I first want to get this started by saying a little bit about myself. I'm the Training and Outreach Manager, and we've been conducting training and outreach webinars for about a year. And Adam, can you tell me, Adam's from Boston After School and Beyond, can you tell us a little bit about your program? (AS) Sure. Boston After Shool and Beyond is the out of school time intermediary for Boston. That means we work with the city, local funders, and local service providers to expand and improve the system of out of school time opportunities for youth. Actually, children K through 12 in the city of Boston. (KG) Excellent, thank you. And we'll be hearing much, much more about Adam's program in just a minute. And Michael, can you tell us--Michael's from Mobile Common--can you tell us a little bit about what that involves? (MS) Sure. Mobile Commons is an online application that makes it easy for organizations to launch and manage mobile campaigns. And I am the Community Manager and am in charge of a lot of the customers there; and so over the past year or so I launched and help promote many, many mobile campaigns for non-profits and political organizations and advocacy groups, organizations like that. (KG) Excellent, thanks. And for the folks out there who have been talking to Mobile Commons because Adam has been working with them during the course of his project, so we thought that was a nice tie-in to have them present as well. So, I'd like to go over the agenda for today. This is an hour-long webinar and we are going to first start talking about the basics of mobile technology; using mobile to provide services, and to broadcast information. We'll have time to talk about each of those separately. And I want you two to get started and then there will be about 15 minutes for audience input. And then if you have any questions that you want answered immediately, please send those on the Chat. And the question and answer portion will all be questions that are sent through the Chat. I also want to thank Becky Wiegand, my coworker, for clicking away, answering questions on the Chat. And also, Laura Newton, a volunteer for Tech Soup. She created the webinar today. She's done an amazing job of pulling all this information together; so I want to her a lot for that. I would like to get started with Michael. Why is it important to non-profits and libraries to start thinking about how they can use mobile technology? (MS) From the stats you see here, there is a lot of it going on. There are a lot of text messages being sent; pretty much everybody now has a mobile phone and users in all demographics and age groups are starting to text. So it's arrived, in that sense, for a communication medium. The things that make it a little different from e-mail and from the other ways to communicate to a constituency: most importantly, there is no spam on text messaging, so people really pay attention here. Everybody has their phone within five feet of them for most of the day; and when text messages come in, they look at them right away. It's an instant form of communication; so when you need people to take action right away, they will do it because they get it and they pay attention to it right away. That's the whole thing. People really pay attention to text messages. And something that may be a little more in the background is that it's one of the best ways to communicate with folks, rich people and poor people. So, obviously, mobile is very hot when you think about things like iphone apps, but I think something like a third of the US doesn't have broadband service regularly at home. So this is one of the best ways to communicate with those people, those underserved markets. (KG) Excellent, thanks. And, Adam, what factors made Boston After School And Beyond decide on a new technology program? (AS) Well, our goals are to reach high school age youth with programs and public health information; and also to give those same youth an opportunity to describe their experiences to the broader public. And, since we know, generally, that 80% of high school youth across the country have cell phones, this seems like a natural fit. We couldn't imagine a more reliable way to reach the target audience with the information. As we'll describe later, we are providing information through a pull system, so we are not going to be broadcasting any messages to these youth. But we are creating systems, we hope to create systems that will allow them to pull information off of the internet over the cell phones. (KG) Excellent. You know, when you talk about the basics, Michael, can you go over some of the basics for people who are new to mobile technology? (MS) Sure. Mobile is a little different; I spoke before about how there is no spam. And the reason is because the carrier oversees the messaging going on here. So, just some of the terminology to start with. There's what's known as a short code. And this is a five, sometimes a six digit number, and very rarely a four digit number; and this is like a phone number for the use of text messaging for organizations. To do a campaign you probably want to get a short code for the organization. You can get your own, you can lease short code, you can get a random short code, and you can get a vanity short code, where YouTube is the number. But you are definitely going to want to go through a short code. Mobile Commons, for instance, and there's always something like this, they provide a short code when you sign up with their service. When someone texts in we need to know what campaign they are talking to, and that's where the key word comes in place. So you text in a key word to a short code and that identifies for the provider, Mobile Commons in this case, what campaign you are talking to and tells us how to respond. So when you text in the name of someone when you are talking to American Idol, when you are voting on American Idol, that name you text in is the key word and you text that to a short code, a five digit number. And there is an organization set up by the carriers to manage these short codes and lease the short codes; you can't buy them, but you can lease them and they are rather expensive. But there is one organization that leases these out and oversees them for organizations or providers like us to use. And there are a number of different campaigns that can happen over text messaging and over mobiles. The first one would be, and you can see the flag here, Text Alerts. So, sending out up-to-the- minute information, reminders, things like that. Text-to-data, this is more of a pool system, where you can text in a query for instance and get an answer back. If anyone is familiar with Google SMS, this is a really, really big text-to-data system. The next one, Text-to-Voice, because you are using a phone, of course you want to incorporate voice into these programs if it makes sense. You can text out a phone number to people, they can connect to that phone number and you get them to take action and do a whole bunch of things, and we'll talk about that a little later. The fourth one down is called Text-to-Screen. This is where people are texting in and their messages are appearing on a scoreboard or a jumbotron, something like that. Usually at a live event. You can also push it to the internet so that people can text in whatever it is and you can moderate the messages in most cases and display them. And then the last there, MMS And Video. MMS is kind of picture messages, that's the way to think about that. There aren't as many standards with MMS as there are with SMS, so the different carriers treat MMS differently, so it's not as smooth yet as SMS and it's also a little expensive. Same thing with Video. This is kind of like the wild west; the usage isn't there yet, but it definitely is coming very soon. And then Smart Phone Apps; you know, the iPhone apps, the Blackberry apps. Very cool stuff. Again, the usage really isn't there for Smart Phone Apps. I think about 99% are on the iPhone. And that's about 6% of the market right now. I'm not sure, I know it's growing pretty quickly. But that's where we are at with the Smart Phone Apps. They are cool, but aren't for the public yet. Not for the mass market I should say. And then for the sake of this demonstration we are going to talk a lot about pull technologies and push technologies. And I'd say the major difference here is with pull technologies, the user is texting in and getting an answer back and that is it. With push technologies people text in and we get their permission to text them back when we want to. So, similar to an e-mail campaign where we collect people's numbers; they opt into receiving messages and then we can send out messages to them when we want to. (KG) Alright; now we are going to talk about the ways that non-profits are using these technologies. So, Michael, can you tell us about the types of programs using pull and push technologies that nonprofits could consider? (MS) Yeah. We have several people doing pull technologies, and just to review, there is someone texting in, basically a query and they want to find information. So the way we work is we help the non-profit expose their data and make that very simple. This example is probably one of our most well known campaigns that we power. It's called the Fish phone. With the Fish phone a user can text in the word fish and then the name of a fish, like tuna. And that looks it up in the fish phone database and texts them back the health/environmental impact of eating that fish. I know Adam is going to talk a lot more about this but what the fish phone used to be was a wallet card that people would carry around. They could pull it out when they were at the grocery store and look at it and see Oh I should not eat tuna, I should eat salmon or whatever it says. When you do that with text messaging, first off all you reach a wider audience 'cause everybody has a cell phone and this really spreads word of mouth. But just as importantly, you collect data on people, so what are people searching for, how often are they using this, what are they searching for that we haven't researched yet? So, our clients in this case knows what they want to research next. And also, when you speak to the funders and say look, this many people are now making decisions in the grocery store and we have proof of that. Or, people are querying this in the restaurant and now we have trackable proof. And the final benefit, just to the text messaging is that this is a story. The media does want to talk about this. So that this phone has been written up in many, many newspapers, Parade magazine, New York Times multiple times, and then all over the internet on blogs and things like that. So it's really helped transform that organization. (KG) Great example. I know I have that fish tape on my wallet too, but if I don't have my wallet or forget to use it..(MS) Yeah, that's another thing. Nobody wants to print anymore. That's not in vogue. (KG) So, we are going to continue to talk about pull technology, so, Adam, I understand that Boston After School and Beyond is developing innovative programs using pull technology to server your youth constituencies. Can you tell us about your programs? (AS) Sure. We are developing a three-part system. The first two that I'll describe take advantage of data that we or other partners already possess. So we are developing the technology to deliver this content to cell phones, but the content is really the most important part of it; and that we have been developing for the past two years. The first system relies on the Boston Navigator dot org web site, which is a comprehensive database of actual out-of-school time opportunities for kids K-12 in the Boston area. It's available to anyone on the web who wants to look at it. It's Bostonavigator dot org, and they share that middle n as you can see on the slide. Generally, what we want to be able to do is use an interactive SMS interface, and this is inspired by work we originally saw out of Isis, Inc. that runs a service called sexinfosf dot org that provides sexual health information to users, using a similar system. So the system we scoped out will use a five digit short code and users will text a keyword after school to that five digit short code and receive a menu with options. I should say some of this interface is subject to change as we plan to focus group it in the fall. But generally the way it will work is that the user will text in a local address, their age and there will be some way to indicate their interests: art, sports, academics, music, etc. In response to sending the message they will get a follow-up message listing two or three programs closest to them, probably within a quarter or half a mile of whatever location they enter in to the application. So here is an example of what the users might receive if they reply with, for example, 31 East, age 16, and then it just goes with cases one; if I had conducted the same search on Bostonavigator this is what would have appeared as there happened to be some opportunities at the Outward Glass Studio, and also the neighborhood network television program. So this is the first system, to deliver program information to youth and youth workers. I should say that our audience is both youth and the youth workers that support them. Boston is fortunate to have a number of youth workers that work on the streets, really, with disconnected and hard to serve youth; and we want them to have this information, too. So that when the youth that they are serving express and interest they can respond with information to that interest in real time and wherever they happen to be. So, the next service is a public health information system. Again, using data that already exists, here at Boston Resource Net dot org or some other partners that we are working with, such as the Boston Public Health Commission, we'll be putting a wide range of public health information online, or I should say, on mobile using a similar interface. Here users would text youth to that same five digit short code and they would get a message similar to the one here. Again, we are going to be testing this to make sure that it's the right kind of interface to use. But in general the system will, again, ask people to text in their zip code rather than their exact location. We don't want to scare people away by giving the impression that we are tracking their address. But, again, they will text in their zip code, their age, and a question code, or they will have some other way to indicate their area of interest. I should say that we are exploring two systems. One is the text-to-data system to deliver the information. The other is a text-to-person system. It's unclear whether youth and youth workers are more likely to use a text-to-data system or a text-to-a-person system, almost like a call center. In that example a youth would access the system again using a key word and a five digit short code, they would get back a message something like this, ask your confidential question about school, sex, parenting, drugs, violence, anxiety, etc. And then a cadre of volunteer experts certified in different content areas would respond within four hours. So in this case, the example here, someone texted drug rehab and JP, which is Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood in Boston; and they might get back a message like this in pretty short order. It will be encouraging, it will be personal, it will list the local resources, and it may ask the person to clarify a question in order to respond well to whoever is submitting the question. We'll determine which of the two systems to pursue, text-to-data or text-to-person after focus grouping the options, hopefully in the fall. The third system that we are scoping out is a way for youth to communicate with each other and with the city generally about their lives or experiences or interests. We, you know you think about a Twitter feed, for those of you who are familiar with Twitter, it would work in a similar way, but there would be, again, a five digit short code that youth could send messages to and one of the models that we are looking at is something called Ushehidi, which was originally developed in Kenya to track voter intimidation, to track Kenyan polling places. It has been used since in a number of other countries to do what's called crowd source crisis reporting. This latest example on the screen shot here is from India, where Ushehidi was used to describe events around polling places in India. We have in mind something similar, but in order to give the youth participating a clearer framework for how to communicate with the system we are exploring with our partners things like SMS Text Poetry, SMS Story Telling program that would give us an opportunity to engage youth in a literacy project and a creative project as well as an informational project. We want to make sure that youth who participate in this system enter information that will be meaningful to them but not put them in danger or report on instances or events that may draw the attention of the police. If such an occasion is necessary we hope they continue to use 911. But for our purposes we really want to give youth a creative outlet, a way for them to let the broader city know about their lives and their experiences. So, this third part of the system is probably the one that is least developed at this stage, but our partners are well engaged and very excited about where it may go. (KG) Very good. So that was pull technology; those were some great examples. So now we are going to move on and talk about push technology. Michael, can you tell us about how some of the non-profit organizations you work with have used mobile technology to push or broadcast messages and the kind of results they have achieved? (MS) Sure. And I'm sure Adam would agree with this. Like anything in life, you want a balance. So some of these people have push technologies and push technologies. I think there is a lot of value in both from an organizational standpoint. Acquiring that list and being able to message that list when you need to is pretty important for a lot of our customers, one of the most valuable things there. So I'm just going to go through a lot of examples of what people do. So, the first one, we are looking at a picture right now with the .... campaign. They build their list whether it's people signing up online, people texting in at live events, they could also have people on the ground writing down phone numbers; and the important thing here is that people have to opt in to receive messages, so they have to know that they are going to receive text messages from the organization. But there are a lot of best practices available and a lot of advice that we give to our clients on how to do this. And they build fairly sizable lists. Some examples of some really good push campaigns. The biggest one, that probably everybody knows about is called Get Out The Vote, for the elections. Many, many, many organizations did this, including Barack Obama, obviously. And that's why he wanted to build that list of people texting in to find out who the vice-president was, to be the first people to find out who the vice-president was, so that he could remind them to go vote. And the reason he was doing that, in 2006 we powered a study by the University of Michigan and Princeton that showed the power of text messaging to get people to show up at the polls. The quick summary is that when you send somebody a text message to remember to vote on the day before or the day of the election, they are about four and a half percent more likely to vote, that increases the vote turnout by about four and a half percent; just a simple text message. The real interesting part was the cost is about $1.50 per additional vote and when you compare that with all the other methods, whether it's direct mail, leafleting, e-mail, text message was by far the cheapest way to do this. So, canvassing increased the vote by about 6% I think, but at a price of $20 per additional vote. E-mailing was about the same in terms of turnout, but it cost a lot more than text messaging. One other quick example of a push technology is someone like Do Something. I don't know if people are familiar with them, but you can text in to Do Something. You text in your zip code and they will reply with volunteering opportunities in your area. And they focus on getting youth involved in the communities. Just letting them know about opportunities the way that they talk, the way that they communicate. It works very, very well for them and they are growing very quickly. Another thing, we are kind of into summary, is text-to-voice. This is great for a few things. First one is advocacy. So, if you think about it, you have a list of people that you want to hear from you. You send them a text message with a phone number in it; they can connect that phone number and they hear talking points which you create and record. And then they can be forwarded on to their congressperson, their governor, really any public official or anyone that you want them to talk to, they can be forwarded anywhere. And then we can track those actions. So, some of Mobile's client comments, this is a very valuable tool for a lot of our clients. People are placing like 75,000 calls a month to elected officials on specific issues, and we can track that. And we can also know that the people knew what to talk about with their officials because they heard a recording directly before they connected. And then another thing an organization did which was really cool, was during hurricane Ike, there was a bunch of rescuers. And they would send out to these people going down into Texas, conference call information, with text messages; which makes a lot of sense. There is not a lot of internet and there is really of internet and there is really no good way to communicate. But a simple text message that says hey, call into a conference call line in 15 minutes was a great way for them to organize. Another push technology, is text-to-screen. This is really great for live events. In this example right here, you can see that this was surrounding health care. An organization called It's Our Health Care set up a jumbotron outside of the California capitol, and people could text in their opinions on health care. This was at a rally and people were texting in whatever they wanted to say and the jumbotron was pointing towards the capitol building and the legislators, the lawmakers could read it. But also this was simulcast on the web, and so people could watch it and text in from anywhere in the state, they didn't have to be at the rally. And then the obvious thing to do once somebody starts interacting here is to say hey, can we give you future updates on health care in California? Text back this key word if you would like to opt in. One more quick example of text-to-screen is the California Democratic Party set up outside of a Sarah Palin rally and had people text in questions for Sarah Palin. And this was back in October (2009) when the whole Katie Curic interviews were going on. So people were texting in questions, she wasn't answering them, but it was a huge billboard at the rally, and they put it on the internet, and people started texting in from all over the country. They really built their list on that day. It got on a bunch of blogs and it was simulcast in a few places, and it's still up in a recorded version on Techpresident if anyone wanted to check that out, I'm sure you could find it there. (KG) Great examples. Just to remind everybody, we will be following-up this webinar with an e-mail, with a link to the recording and all the URLs that we've been talking about today. A copy of the Power Point and including links to all of the web sites that Adam and Michael mentioned. I want to move on. We've talked about push technology, pull technology and heard some great examples, but now let's talk about getting started. Michael, what are the first steps for a non-profit that wants to get started using mobile technology? (MS) The first thing is to set goals. A good way to frame this is that mobile should be integrated into your entire communication strategy. What it's really going to do for you is, it's going to increase the open rate on e-mail, the click to's on e-mails, people taking action from e-mails, it's going to help with list building from live events; you should really look at it as an integrated part of your communication strategy, not something that stand-alone. That really doesn't work for anybody. The next thing is you are going to need some partners in how you do this. Mobile is quite confusing so you probably want to find somebody who can explain it to you, and I'm happy to do that if people would like that. But here is a quick breakdown of the level of vendors. And there were a lot of questions about short codes, too, in the Chat. You don't have to do this, but this is one way to do this. At the highest level, probably the most intense and probably the most work is getting your own short code. Getting it hosted is what's known as an aggregator. And that's at the top of the line vendors. An aggregator has a direct connection with a carrier. They will take your short code, host it for you will need someone to talk to the aggregator and let him know what messages to send to what phone numbers, and then if you'd like to receive those messages. And that's the highest level. And short code prices are, for a random short code, $500 dollars. For a short code that you pick yourself, it's a $1000 a month. There were a few questions about that so I figured I'd answer. That's at the most intense level. We have some customers that have their own short code. Most people use a shared short code. When you start talking about shared short codes, that's probably the second level here, called management service. Mobile Commons in this case would be a management service. We have the short codes. You can use one of our short codes. Which is probably like a .... and I'm sure Adam would agree with that, too. So you don't have to pay for your own. We handle everything with the carriers, everything with the aggregators and you log into a system like Mobile Commons that allows you to send messages and look at the messages you've received and manage these campaigns rather easily. With this there is going to be a monthly fee and probably a per message cost as well. Below that is a messaging service. With a messaging service you are not paying so much for the management of messages, but you are paying to send messages. So that you would be managing these lists yourself most likely; you would be opting people in, collecting the numbers yourself, and you are probably mostly paying just to send the messages.We have prices coming up, but pennies, ten cents at most to send out a text message. But the data and the system integration really isn't there, as far as I know. The fourth level down is a marketing service. With this you can probably send your text messages, they won't charge you, but they will tack on a little advertisement at the end of your text message. Depending on the organization that may be okay, it may not not be okay. Those are the levels. And then the short code options, I talked about them a little, but a vanity short code, you choose your own. It costs $1000 a month. A random short code, you don't choose the number, but it's yours only, $500 a month. A shared code would probably be provided by a management service. (KG) Excellent overview. Now, we are going to move to Adam, who has actually gone through this from the non-profits point of view from idea to moving through all the ins and outs. So, what considerations did you look at when getting started? (AS) Well, the first thing is, I couldn't agree more that a goal is really very important. So we specifically wanted to communicate with high school age youth around these program and public health opportunities. And we wanted to create a way for youth to have their voice heard by the city at large. So once we had articulated those goals, it was relatively easy to figure out which technologies are most appropriate. That said, we had to do a lot of reading and figure out the different kind of vendors and what services they offered and get comfortable with how they priced out the services and what we had to expect to buy. Before I get to the cost stuff on a different slide, I'll talk a little bit more about these automated systems and staff system choices we were looking at. I saw in the Chat that someone asked are these staff systems easier in places that don't already have databases developed? I think for those listening who are thinking about any one of these systems, I don't think there is any easy way to provide quality content. The benefit of an automated system is that you can pull data from existing sources perhaps, maybe information that has already been vetted for quality, and that is fine. But you still have to maintain that quality over time and we expect a lot of staff time involved in making sure that we are providing the right information to the right folks in a way that is actionable and usable. And most importantly, connects those youths to caring and well trained adults. The advantages to the staff systems are that they are a little more personable, you don't have to depend on the computer to communicate warmth and caring to the user. But with staff systems quality control becomes an issue. People, while they may be warm and caring are never as predictable in their responses as a computer. We wanted to take great care to be sure that the people answering questions that come in, are doing so in a way that at least won't do any harm. A way that won't turn youth away from services or turn them off of services that they may really benefit from. So, in some ways the technology behind any of these systems is the easy part. The harder part is making sure that you are delivering content that is accurate given our goals. The harder part is making sure that we are delivering information that is actionable, that is youth appropriate, and again, won't turn anyone away or won't turn anyone off. The other thing that we are always aware of is that although SMS messaging is relatively inexpensive, we don't know enough yet about the costs that users may incur per text message. We know in general that teens, we think we know, teens are trending toward cell phone contracts that have unlimited texting, but we don't know that for sure. These message for the user can cost up to 15 cents per message, incoming or outgoing. We want to make sure that we are not adding to what we understand anecdotally may be a problem of cell phone debt that users or parents are getting into. There's a line about advertising costs. We are considering including advertising in our messages to offset the cost of the system, but we would only do that once the system has proven user-based interest in the system and we have enough volume to warrant it. Someone asked about opt in. Michael, are you going to cover this? (MS) Sure. I kind of went over this before, but let me talk a little bit about costs. It can be up to as much as 20 cents per message going both ways, sending into the cell phone and coming from the cell phone. But I think the thing to keep in mind is your organization probably is not going to be the first person that the user texts. They usually text a girfriend or boyfriend first. And so people self-select to participate in the texting. That's just something to keep in mind. And at the same time, we don't know this for a fact, but it it seems that more people are signing up for bulk rate plans. With the push technology the big thing is getting people to opt in. With mobile, with text messaging, these will not be ignored. You don't sit around for two days and then just get archived. So the good part about that is people will see them and respond. The bad part is they really didn't give you permission to text them and you kind of crossed the line. Or they are not worthwhile messages, people will just opt out and they will get off the list. So, just something to keep in mind there. You want strong options, you want strong lists, so it's definitely a quality game, not a quantity game. But these people will self-select and these people will be your biggest fans. And pushing out messages is a very strong way to communicate with them, (KG) Great. Thanks for the clarification. Now we want to dig in a little deeper on costs. So, Adam, based on the research that you have done, what kind of costs is someone looking at a mobile program expect to see? (AS) For the volume of system that we are scoping out, we are thinking about 5000 messages a month more or less. The bottom is that the costs you can expect to incur are between 17 and 20 thousand dollars a year. You can go cheaper, but I think the cheaper systems are likely to involve more demands of the buyer. You'll have to have more technical savvy and be willing to do more of the back end work yourself. The thing that folks should look out for is that the vendors in this sector price their work very differently. Some have relatively large one-time up front licensing fees for their software, others push the cost into monthly service contracts. Among the vendors that we surveyed, and we've talked to six so far, the costs all average out to between 17-20 thousand dollars a year, but the vendors break their costs out differently, so when folks are considering different vendors of their own, just be sure you understand where those cost centers are, whether it's going to be a big one time up front licensing cost, the benefit of that is that in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th year of the system the costs should go down, after that first big payment is made. Of course you need to have the budget to support that original one time up front licensing fee. But generally speaking, again, folks should keep 17-20 thousand dollars in mind for the technology side of the system. Then they should be okay. When we were building our own budget for this program we had to put a lot of money into marketing. We are going to be looking at serving high school youth and anecdotally, again, there has been a lot of research on this, but anecdotally we understand that youth are more likely to use these systems when they are reminded of their existence on a regular basis. So we plan to take out ads on MySpace and FaceBook, but also at the subway stations, the bus stations in Boston, in the schools, out in the health centers, the gymnasiums, wherever we can think of to put either print of electronic advertising. So the budget for marketing is probably going to exceed that for the technology itself. We certainly hope to get as much of the print material donated or provided as an inkind service, but it will still be expensive whether it's cash, whether we pay for it out of pocket, or whether folks provide it for free. I think that's about it on costs. If anyone has questions, please add them to the Chat and I'll do my best to answer them as the webinar continues. (KG) Okay. That was great. We do have a slide of resources which I will talk about in a few seconds. I want to start answering some of the great questions that have come through the Chat. So what I am going to do is read off a question and Adam and Michael you can decide who is best to answer it. So, one question John Jacobson asked is Will you be recommending sites for sending free text messages to multiple mobile phones via phone book. (MS) I think for that, For Info, does that sound right, Adam? (AS) Yeah, that's a vendor that we've been in touch with when we considered that model. (MS) I believe it's free messaging and they do attach an advertisement.I'm guessing they have a paid model as well, where you can send messages without an advertisement. I don't at what price that would be, but when I went through the list of vendors that is probably one of the biggest ones doing that for organizations. (KG) Can I get the name again? (MS) For Info, the word for and then the word info. (KG) Thanks. (MS) And they are big. They are definitely the first hit in Google, if you Google it. (KG) Another person is concerned about using this for individuals with disabilities? Are there special tools for folks like that? (AS) It's a great question. I don't of any and certainly we have in mind a broad base of cell phone users, so if a disability was getting in the way of a person's ability to use a cell phone at all, then frankly, I just don't know of any ways to get around that. That being said we do hope that there may be some text-to-speech applications on some phones that will allow people to have a phone read back a message that comes in. That's all I'm familiar with. Michael? (MS) Nothing comes to mind right now. (KG) Okay. Another question from Lorena. We are interested in using text for donations and also for sending out real time info during disasters, to guide people. And advice? (MS) Yeah. Something we really didn't touch on yet, I skipped over. But mobile giving is now in the universe of mobile. That means that someone can text message a key word and that counts as a five dollar donation with phone bills. And this is all done by the Mobile Giving Foundation. They handle the transaction, there is an application process which they oversee and they handle remittance of the payments. They pass to the non-profit, you have to be a 501.c3, have been in existence for at least a year, with an operating budget or annual revenues in the previous year of at least half a million dollars. And they pass through 100% of the donations. So it works great in certain situations. It's definitely not like ...., you still need to give people a reason to donate in order for them to text in and donate to you. But it makes donating over the cell phone, well, it makes donating in general very simple and painless; there is no credit card, no checkbook, no cash, and then five dollars on your mobile bill, which is very hard to read anyway. The Mobile Giving Foundation; they are on the web, Mobile giving dot org. They require that you use what is known as an ASP, an application service provider, and there are a few of them; Mobile Common is one of them and I have a lot of experience with that. So, I'm happy to dig in to more questions offline. If people want to e-mail me or if everybody wants to now, we can talk about it. Adam, do you have any experience with Mobile Giving or have you heard about new programs there? (AS) I don't. The only thing I have read is that it has not raised a tremendous amount of money except in very specific circumstances. As a broad based fund raising campaign it can certainly augment a fund raising strategy, but it's unlikely, as far as I've read at least, to become a core part of any organization's fund raising strategy. It's more of a fund raising marketing. You do a little marketing about your organization and some folks make a donation in return. (MS) Yeah, like anything. So, there's limitations, there's good stuff and some not so good stuff. The limitation is that we can only collect five dollars from people right now--at a time. They can do it five times per month, each donation is five dollars. You cannot follow-up with the people. So you can't collect any information once someone donates, right now. Hopefully that will change. So it becomes a question like do we want them to donate five dollars or give their e-mail address? It all depends on the organization. But some people have been successful. It works great when Bono gets up at a concert and says everyone take out your cell phones and text message in; or when American Idol, that was the most successful campaign so far I believe. Alicia Keyes did it on American Idol and it worked very well when you have that type of reach. (KG) Good example. And that may be a future webinar that we offer. So Ron had a question about organizations that have already started using these technologies, do they see people really using the service or has it not caught on yet? So either of you, could you give us some examples of organizations that have used it and what the response has been? (AS) We were originally inspired to pursue this because of the work that I did down in San Francisco and other cities regarding sexual health information for teenagers. As far as I know there has been no long term research done on how well the system has been utilized. What we do know is that the usage of the system is really correlated to the marketing that the organization is doing. If the marketing is out there, the system gets used. As the marketing falls off, use of the system falls off. As soon as we get our system up and running it's going to take a long time to enter the public consciousness of public high schoolers in Boston. We expect to do a lot of aggressive marketing for a long time to keep up the usage. (MS) Yeah. And one thing, and Adam you will find this out, if you don't know already, but one thing that works great is really engaging users. High school students will do it if you engage them and tell them about it. What doesn't work, at least we have found mixed results with mobile, is a call to action written on a piece of paper. It always helps if you can have someone tell them, hey, take out your cell phones and text this word into this number. That seems obvious, but again, you have to tell people to do it, you have to give them a reason to do it. And then it will work, because it's the only device they have on them at an assembly in school or at a concert or something like that. So it's important to do really engaging calls to action. That's the most critical part. It's definitely not a high tech thing. If's a communications, it's a people thing. (MS) One of the things we are going to be doing in Boston to generate that interest among youth and youth workers is engaging them heavily in the ultimate design of the system. Just to be clear. We've scoped out the system here in Boston and we've enlisted the partners that we need to build it. But we are still waiting on our funding proposal to get a yea or a nay. But assuming funding allowing we are going to launch this in the fall. And a part of that process is certainly to help us refine the interface and make sure that we are building a system that youth will enjoy using. But the other thing that we are doing is to engage a cohort of pilot users that will start the system up with us and will be most likely to use it in its first few months, tell their friends about it and then of course provide us with ongoing feedback about how well the system is working for them. (KG) John had a question. To send a text message from pc to mobile you have to have their cell phone number of the person's cell phone carrier. What's the best way to gather that information? (MS) So, I'm guessing that John is talking about using mail gateway, which is something like if you text message a number like 1234567891 at etext dot com, you can send them a text message through your e-mail. That goes around the short code system. I don't know how much the carriers like that. I've heard they really don't like that, because I don't think they make money on that text message being sent. The carriers do provide information, what's known as a carrier lookup. I think that has to be done with an aggregator. And there is a small charge for it. It's about half a penny to look up a phone number, what carrier that is. But I'm not sure what type of infrastructure is needed to do that, like what type of system would be needed to do that. If you go to a provider that has a management system, like we automatically look up that information when someone texts in. I'm guessing most providers do, I just don't know. And you don't need to know the carrier I don't think if you go with someone like For Info that's just sending messages for you. They should be able to take care of that for you. (AS) Kathy, can I jump in? I just saw something come in on Chat that I think is really important. (KG) Definitely. (AS) Someone asked the question, if you only have one to five thousand dollars in their budget, if text is not for them? The 17-20 thousand dollar cost that I described really reflects our plans, our volume expectations, etc. But there are several ways to use mobile technology that are far cheaper. One of the greatest stories that I heard was reported in the New York Times a few months ago. It took place at a service center called the Virgin Bees hotline in Durham, North Carolina. The way they worked it, I think they had about a five thousand dollar budget. They put some advertising in MySpace, I think just MySpace, actually; and said, look, here's a cell phone number, if you have a question about sex or sexual health, send us a text, and we'll text you back. And it worked. They were able to direct their advertising dollars to youth exclusively in the Raleigh, Durham area. And youth text the messages, and they just went through the local mobile phone carrier, I don't know which one they chose. They bought a cell phone with an unlimited texting contract and the staff of the organization just take turns carrying this phone in their pocket. And when a text message comes in, they answer it. So, it was a very inexpensive way to deliver very personal, real time information to youth. And frankly, we'd look into a very similar system except that we want to cover a whole range of public health issues and we have a much larger youth population. But they had a very elegant solution. Very low budget. I think for what we are talking about, a pull system that requires a service provider like Mobile Commons, although to be clear, we haven't contracted with Mobile Commons. They are here because they have been very, very generous in helping us understand the options. But again, you will have to contract with someone like Mobile Commons; we have to figure out how to get our data into the system, either by hosting it on our computers or dumping it into our vendor's computers. So that's going to cost around 17-20 thousand. But there are definitely cheaper ways to do it, and the Virgin Bees hotline is a great example. (KG) Michael, did you have anything to add to that? (MS) Yeah. It all depends on what you want to build. You know, collecting e-mail addresses from, you know if you have an opportunity to do PSAs on the radio and you want to collect people opting in and giving their e-mail address, that can probably be done cheaper than the prices Adam is talking about. You know, it all depends and there is a lot that goes into that. And then the other thing is it makes sense to start collecting mobile numbers now, no matter what your organization is doing. When people sign up, have them sign up is they want to receive text messages, give us your number. The list will get weaker if you text someone six months after they sign up; they are going to be like who is this, why are they texting me, but at least you can prove out for your bosses and your funders. Look, people want to receive text messages. So making that an option to at least start collecting those numbers makes sense tomorrow no matter what your plans are.(KG) That's a very good point. David asked what about ToTango, it's a free app started up by a school group. Have you guys used that service? (MS) No, I've never heard of them. I mean I'm sure there are probably like 30 or 40 of them out there. I don't know much about them. If you are willing to be able to send messages with ads, they are selling to people who are able to do it. I know For Info is probably one of the biggest in that space. I've never talked with them or met them, but I've heard about them. And so if you want that, you want to go with a reliable source, so I would check it out and do some diligence on them. (KG) Well, it's about time to wrap it up. It's already been an hour. These always go by so quickly, but here's a list of resources we will be sending out in our follow-up e-mail with the URLs used as well as as cluster of links that we talked about during the presentation that have come up. If you have any additional questions, I think we answered most every question that came through. But if you do have more questions, please do post them to our Community Forum. There is a URL for it that Becky will be sending via the Chat, so if you have additional questions, please post them there. For those of you who are new to Tech Soup, we have much, much more than just webinars. We have donated software from Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec; community forums, so if you have questions of any sort, please post them to our community forums. We have volunteers all over the world answering those questions. And we post upcoming events and conferences on our website as well as certain articles that are posted on a monthly basis. Actually more than one a month. We'd like to thank Ready Talk; they are sponsoring this webinar series and allowing us to offer these webinars for free. So if you are interested in learning more about Ready Talk, they have special trainings just for Tech Soup participants. And lastly I'd like to thank everyone for participating today, especially the presenters and Becky and Laura. And if you could take a minute to complete the post event survey that you will get a link to when we have completed. And if you have any questions or want to be in touch my contact information is at the bottom. Again, this is Tech Soup Talks, I'm Kami Griffiths and I'm really appreciating everyone attending the webinar today and thanks Michael and Adam. Have a great day everyone. (Varied voices) Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 56 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 91
Posted by: techsoupglobal on Feb 1, 2010

You keep hearing how mobile phones are a great way to reach a large audience of people, but how can your nonprofit or library use this technology, and where do you start? In this webinar Kami Griffiths will interview Adam Shyevitch, Teen Initiative Director at Boston After School & Beyond, who will share information about how their organization is using mobile technology for their outreach efforts. We will also hear from Michael Sabat, of Mobile Commons, a company that develops web-based applications to launch interactive mobile campaigns including text messaging, voice calls, and web-based components.

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