Notification: Has the fragmentation of communication left your head spinning?

Last updated: 31 July 2014

Seeing little red notification circles on a host of different apps on your phone can be a dizzying experience. Whereas consumers once had only SMS text messages and phone calls to worry about, the proliferation of smartphones has given us more streams of communication to deal with than ever before.

Got a message on your LinkedIn app? Also received an email about it to your personal webmail account? Work emails piling up in your Exchange inbox? WhatsApp group conversations making your phone flash every minute of the day? Not to mention SMS messages and Tweets shouting at you for attention. Put simply, people today have numerous channels of communication, using them differently for each part of their life. Some of these messages are ‘push’ (notifying you) and some are ‘pull’ (appearing when you look for them), depending on your settings.

I can currently think of the following messaging platforms on my smartphone, all of which come with little red circles (and/or message previews) acting as a notification. I monitor them differently, largely based on urgency.

  • SMS
  • WhatsApp
  • Email (work/personal)
  • Facebook / FB Messenger
  • LinkedIn / DM
  • Yammer / DM
  • Twitter / DM

Consumers adapt to different telecoms channels all the time, and this can give mobile marketing teams a real headache. How people access the applications on their mobile phones varies dramatically between platforms and between users.

We recently ran some research between a leading mobile network operator (MNO) in Latin America and another MNO in Africa who both offer a service to access Facebook. The results revealed that users spend 43% more time answering their friend notifications than they do scrolling down/navigating their app menu. When the Facebook Messages feature is available, the average time spent on Notifications is even higher (93%). It simply shows that users get more active with an app when they find a better and faster way to interface their app.

According to Jocelyn k. Glei, editor-in-chief of 99U, “every message is not created equal”. This rings very true to me. In his blog post about communication overload on, he goes on to say that “basically anything that has your contact info and might be sending you updates”. So how do decipher the good from the bad, and the urgent from the ‘FYI’ (for your information)?

Many of us are privileged to have an abundance of communication channels open to us, but this isn’t true for everyone around the world. In this respect, Gemalto’s Facebook for SIM is a client/server SIM application for mobile operators, enabling anyone to access the social media service on any handset, even without a data connection or subscription. Particularly useful from a dumb-phone (remember them?); the novelty of this SIM app is its ability to display an interactive pop-up message on any handset screen. This allows the user not only to be immediately informed about Facebook friends’ activity, but to react instantaneously – in one click – to their messages.

How do you manage your communications streams today? SMS before email? Facebook before Twitter? Do you have a ‘system’? Let us know in the comments section below.

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