I’ll start by saying right off that there is no single solution to this question. But it deserves attention, because the fact that most (or all) of your employees carry a smartphone or tablet gives you unprecedented access to them.
The first issue to examine is the BYOD one, which stands for “bring your own device.” That is, is it fair that you should use their personal property to communicate business issues with them? I think it is, with one caveat which I’ll get to in a second.
The reason it’s ok is because it’s the employee’s choice as to whether or not to install the communication app and use it. And they’re probably already using their device to check company email, at least occasionally. Conversely, they’re likely using company equipment to check personal email and social sites. So the boundary is blurring and with that comes an implied understanding that it’s a two-way street. Of course some companies have strict policies about these things, but I’m addressing the issue from a high, social-understanding level.
The caveat: with employees allowing you to use their device for company purposes, you can’t draw too tight boundaries on its use, for example requiring them to check in X times per day or to respond to every piece of content. But for most companies, getting 80% of the way there is worth it, especially considering the alternative of sporadic communication and the fact that the equipment is free to the company.
The second issue is to decide what app to use. There are many available, or you may decide to do it yourself, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you are just using email. To decide which app to get, you first should start with your objectives. What do you want to do? Send them messages? Collaborate with them? Get feedback? Gather field information? Based on what you want will dictate what you should be looking for. And because a certain amount of company communications and information will be flowing through the channel, it’s important to buy it from a reputable company with experience in corporate communications.
We are currently beta testing an app based on what our field research with customers tells us the market is looking for. If you’re interested, let us know.