Make Mobile Technologies for Behavior Change a Priority in 2013

Jan 03

Many people are kicking off the new year with resolutions to improve their health by adopting new behaviors. While the desire to change one’s behavior may be strong at the beginning of the year, it often wanes as time goes by. This drop-off is common in the behavior change cycle, creating a challenge for social marketers to develop tools to support and sustain behavior change. With this challenge in mind, I encourage you in 2013 to think about ways to use mobile technologies, such as the mobile web, applications, and text messaging, to support long-term health behavior change. If you need rationale for taking this step, just look at the compelling findings from Pew Internet & American Life Project’s Mobile Health 2012 report:

  • 85% of U.S. adults own a cell phone, and of those, 53% own smartphones
  • 31% of cell phone owners have used their phone to look for health information compared to 17% two years ago
  • Cell phone owners who are Latino, African American, between the ages of 18-49, or hold a college degree are more likely than others to gather health information on their phones
  • 80% of cell phone owners send and receive text messages, but only 9% receive text updates or alerts about health or medical issues
  • 52% of smartphone owners gather health information on their phones compared with 6% of non-smartphone owners
  • 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone, with exercise, diet, and weight apps being the most popular types


Can mobile technologies coupled with research-based approaches to behavior change facilitate sustained change? I believe the combination offers great potential given the reach afforded by mobile technologies and people’s increasing reliance on their mobile phone, and I hope to see more social marketers, and particularly the Federal Government, take advantage of mobile in 2013.

If you’re ready to add mobile to your arsenal of tools, here are two resources you may find helpful:


Is mobile a priority for you this year? Are you currently working on a mobile project designed to change behavior? Let us know in the comments.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 at 3:57 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Make Mobile Technologies for Behavior Change a Priority in 2013”

  1. Bess Bezirgan says:

    Exactly right, Nadia. And in another related emerging trend, mobile payments and mobile wallets will up-end how we pay for things and how use our phones. This too will require adoption of (and increased comfort with) new habits.

  2. Steve Paquette says:

    Very important topic, Nadia. As someone working in adolescent health promotion I am amazed at how challenging it can be to use these technolologies within the public healthcare field. Keeping sending the rationale and we will try to convince the powers that be!