As you know, I am now on a “half-sabbatical” for the next two semesters here at Biola, with one of the outcomes being a book on using the Internet and social media for ministry. As part of this process, I am spending some time reviewing some different materials for possible inclusion in the book and/or my online course this summer. As I complete my review of these materials, I will post a summary to this blog. To see all my reviews, click here.
Last month I posted a review of Persuasive Technology by BJ Fogg. This book, which I highly recommend for those who are interested in understanding how to make their web presence more credible, details just how technology can be used to persuade people to your point of view. While I was on my trip to Turkey earlier this month, I finished the follow-up book: Mobile Persuasion.
Unlike its predecessor, Mobile Persuasion is a compilation of essays written by leaders in the field of mobile technologies and captology (the study of computers as persuasive technology). Each essay focuses on a different aspect of how mobile devices can be used to persuade. While I did not find this book as compelling overall as the first, there are several nuggets of insight that are valuable to ministries and churches looking to understand and utilize the power of mobile devices.
I firmly believe (as does Google, by the way), that we are now moving quickly to the point where mobile devices will be the primary way people interact with the Internet and with each other. With this in mind, here are some of my key takeaways from this book:
- the mobile-human relationship is one of the most personal, intensive, and lasting of all relationships. Just think of how you feel about your iPhone…
- because mobile devices are always with us and always on, they are positioned perfectly to provide persuasive prompts at the right place and the right time.
- a mobile service must be integrated into a user’s behavior pattern in order to succeed. I can see a church mobile “app” which reminds users of upcoming services, study suggestions, and registers their attendance each Sunday morning.
- developing a mobile “experience” is fundamentally different from a web experience. The experience is not only “smaller”, but should also be “smarter”.
- users who know their activities are being monitored (voluntarily) are more likely to repeat the behaviors that we want them to.
- mobile devices can be treated as extensions of the way the user sees the world.
- mobile applications should be dependable, consistently solve user’s problems, and do so effortlessly.
- mobile devices are personal, so the programs run on them should be able to be personalized.
- if the mobile app is social, it can better persuade – we use the actions of others to decide on proper behavior for ourselves.
- being mobile is much less about technology, and much more about culture, connectedness, and fundamental human needs.
The book ends with a look at the future of persuasion through mobile devices. One interesting conclusion from this chapter (written by Dean Eckles, who is part of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford) is that individual messages will become less useful as a way to persuade. Instead, “it will be replaced by contextual information that comes to people based on their goals, their location, their activity, and – possibly- their state of mind.” This is then summed up by Dr. BJ Fogg, director of the lab, as follows:
By knowing a user’s goals, routine, current location, and current task, mobile systems of the future will be able to determine when the user would be most open to persuasion in the form of a reminder, suggestion, or simulated experience.
I have said before, the future is mobile and social, and we need to understand how to become a part of it.
Overall, I recommend Mobile Persuasion, though I would highly recommend reading Persuasive Technology first. The only real criticism I have about this book is that it was written too early. Specifically, it was written before the advent of the iPhone, which changed the mobile game completely. I would love to see an update to this book, taking all the latest technologies into account. However, the principles still apply and are worth reviewing.