I’ve often thought it was a little ironic that our goal as wellness professionals is to help people get more active, but our technology solution requires so much screen time. Tracking things, reading things, watching videos.
Mobile-friendly platforms offer the promise of getting – well, mobile.
But it’s not quite so easy.
Consider videos. Sitting and watching a video on your phone is not much different than sitting at a desk – you still have to stop what you are doing to watch it. (Assuming the video is showing you something important.)
In other words, the phone is a portable screen, but you still can’t take your eyes off the screen.
Video and text content do not really embrace the real potential of mobile. Mobile content is ideal when you can truly be on the go. Getting active. Being productive. Having fun. Relaxing. Doing chores.
Lately, I have been interested in the question – how can our wellness platforms free people from being so anchored to a screen?
One answer is obvious, when you notice the fantastic value of voice content in the form of podcasts, audiobooks, and streaming audio programs. While not everyone wants to listen to something when they are out and about, millions of people do. These folks are engaged while wearing their ear buds. Mobile audio is exploding.
We are seeing a rediscovery of the unique qualities of audio.
The many flavors of talk radio and long-time programs like All Things Considered have evolved into big hits like Planet Money, Stuff You Should Know, Hidden Brain, Serial, and the TED Radio Hour. All of these are now podcasts. It no longer matters whether the show is broadcast over the radio; it’s all about the convenience of listening on-demand.
Digital voice content is on fire, fueled by two key factors. First, the ease of creating and distributing digital audio via RSS and an expanding ecosystem of podcast services has lead to a massive diversity of available topics that address any interest and fill every niche.
Second, everyone now has a device with them at all times that makes it super convenient to listen to that content anytime, anywhere, and to fill any dull moment or boring dead space. And you don’t have to stop what you are doing to look at a screen.
Voice-experience programming has proven it’s durability. Oddly, the potential of this highly engaging format has barely been explored in health and wellness. It won’t be long before devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are serving up fitness routines, relaxation programs, and well-being pep talks on demand. (Of course, they already are doing that – but we are in the very early days.)
The mobile platforms of worksite wellness programs are starting to serve up convenient, screen-free audio programming to participants on the go. In this way, audio programs can be part of the platform’s other benefits, such as personalization, assessment, and incentive rewards. The platform adds much more value than if the participant just found an isolated “wellness” podcast.
The wellness industry hasn’t yet seen an explosion of creative audio programs. But, that is coming.
If you are looking for new programs to engage your employees or other populations, and are interested in the potential of private podcasts and audio programs, please contact me here. – Greg Juhn