October 01, 2014
Put your association in members’ hands with mobile apps
By Bob Alves | 07/14/2011

A recent Ericsson survey found that 35% of people in the US check their mobile apps before they even get out of bed. It’s clear that mobile apps are changing the way people interact today by allowing them to access information at any time and from anywhere. There are a number of ways associations can take advantage of the mobile trend, as well.

Though mobile still is a relatively new strategy for the nonprofit sector, most organizations realize mobile apps are another channel to interact with their communities. Many fundraising organizations use mobile apps to collect donations and connect with donors, and associations can use apps to share events or campaign content, and keep members up-to-date.

To offer the best experience possible, mobile apps must be more user-driven so members can easily engage and manage their member profiles. Mission-critical information must be clearly visible to both current and potential members. It’s also important to ensure that when members update their information using mobile devices, data is updated automatically. Consider adding more fields to the association’s central database, such as social network links, and multiple e-mail addresses and photos.

For example, Texas Medical Association found that its members use iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android devices to browse TMA’s real-time member directory to find, contact and connect with their peers. Members use the app to make appointments and get swift referrals, among other uses. The organization also discovered that the app provides a recruitment benefit as only TMA members are allowed full access.

Mobile apps can help organizations with event management, as well. Members can use an event app to check in to events, organize schedules, access venue and street maps, and receive live updates. Also, associations can create individual participant profiles that include a photo, employer name, title and social networking links. The profiles can be shared and viewed by other app users, eliminating the need to collect and save business cards. Using mobile apps also reduces the need for printed material.

Defense Research Institute saw success with its mobile app for its annual conference - more than half of conference participants used the app, which was created for Blackberry devices. The app allowed participants to view the conference schedule and floor layout, as well as session and speaker information. Members could also see who was attending, message their peers and create their own schedules for the conference.

Mobile apps allow associations to increase engagement within their communities by reaching members anywhere and at anytime. Whether mobile apps are being used to provide members with up-to-date news on an ongoing basis or at a key event, they can take member engagement to a new level and are an effective addition to associations’ marketing strategies. Details: www.advsol.com.

Alves is CEO of Advanced Solutions International, Alexandria VA.


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