Role of Mobile Technology in Your Communication Strategy

I just returned from the New England Society of Association Executives (NE/SAE) Technology Conference – an interactive, insightful event I’ve been attending annually. Meeting with this remarkable group of association executives, staff, and partners was an opportunity for me to hear the challenges and successes their organizations have had while sharing knowledge and best practices together.
I conducted two presentations during this year’s event, one of which was with our client Marc Kaplan from the Massachusetts Dental Society. The topics were “Should Your Association or Nonprofit Play in the Mobile App Space?” and “Best Practices for Building Your Content Strategy.” It was an enjoyable experience discussing all the good, the bad, and the ugly with my audience and fellow experts, noting that they had encountered similar situations when planning their website/communication strategies. Another topic that came up this time that I think will consume the association world over the next five years is the changing association management system (AMS) model. Reggie Henry, CIO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), summed it up best in his closing keynote address (I’m paraphrasing):

“Consider your smartphone. You have a best-of-breed app to send a tweet, book a hotel room, or check the weather. Where’s the app that does all three of those things well?”

Reggie suggested that software firms would be wise to surround membership data with a variety of web services that allow for easy connectivity with best-of-breed software (think event registration, social media/collaboration, e-commerce services, etc.). This is in contrast to working so hard to build their own versions of these components. Here are some key takeaways that will perhaps remain the shaping force behind association and nonprofit digital communications over the coming years.
    • Mobile technology is here to stay. Mobile web browsing, mobile app access, all things mobile are not passing trends. You’ve been hearing about it for the last few years and it isn’t going away. If you don’t already have a mobile strategy – start working on one now. Associations and nonprofits, now more than before, will need to incorporate a mobile strategy into their digital communications mix.
    • Mobile app or mobile website or both? Think about your membership and what type of information delivery system would work best for them. Don’t build an app or a mobile website just because “everybody else is doing it” or “the board has asked about it.” Build a content-sharing, communication platform that works for your users and your specific events and/or needs.
    • Consider the integration between your mobile app or mobile website with your association management system (AMS) and other third-party platforms. The app or website may work great for your members but if it causes a backend management nightmare, it may not be an effective long-term plan.
    • Content is king. A successful website or app starts with great content. Have sharable content that your audience wants to share. Google’s search algorithms will love that too! Furthermore, not all content is created equal! Prioritize content in a way that is helpful to your members and/or event attendees.
    • Make your content accessible. Once you have quality content, ensure it’s easy to find. That is true for your website, apps, and third-party services you may have developed for your members and constituents. Advanced search tools can pull and display all relevant content from not just your website’s content management system (CMS) but also from your social media channels, community platforms, AMS, and journals. One such tool is ATS MS.
Do you have any stories to share about using mobile technology in your association? Post your comments below to share or send us an email at Stay tuned for my next blog that will share insights from two major technology conferences coming up in November and December: the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) Annual Conference and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Technology Conference. For now – Happy Fall!
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