Lunchtime Links: Build Community With Mobile Apps

Use technology to engage new audiences. Also: Buy a content management system your employees won’t hate.

Mobile apps are a great way to get association content in front of members. But they do more than that. Apps can also help you tap new audiences.

That, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Mobile relationships: With the evolution of technology, many associations have sought to use mobile technologies to reach members, wherever they are. But, as Jared Sheenan, chief strategist of Pwrd By, a mobile app maker for nonprofits, points out, the best apps do more than deliver targeted content—they also help create active and engaged user communities focused on mission. “A lot has been written about the benefits and difficulties of mobile technologies,” writes Sheenan for the Nonprofit Technology Network blog. “[O]ne area where more needs to be addressed is how mobile technology can actually help a nonprofit increase its impact, specifically through supporter development.” He offers three strategies for building communities through mobile apps: amplify your message and let your supporters tell your story for you, “with their thumbs”; engage new demographics by using new technologies, such as smartphones, which have a higher penetration rate than computers; and collect important member data that will help you better target your audience. How does your association use mobile apps to build communities?

Content mismanagement: Your association has invested heavily in online content. It recently built a shiny new content management system (CMS) that’s supposed to make it a cinch for all your employees, not just IT staff, to update the website and create new and engaging features for members. But if the CMS is so great, why does staff groan in frustration every time they have to use it? Writing for CMSWire, technology consultant Gerry McGovern examines a longstanding “disconnect” between “those who purchase a content management system and those who actually have to use it.” McGovern suggests too many associations purchase technology for technology’s sake, without first asking employees—the people who use the CMS daily—what the system needs to do. “Organizations need to have a much clearer idea of what they actually need,” writes McGovern. That includes purchasing less complex systems and making it easier for employees to update and manage content. Remember, he says, the best “strategy begins with a purpose.”

Build a better blog: Speaking of online content, blogs are an effective outreach tool for many nonprofit associations. But, as the person who manages your content will tell you, keeping your organization’s online outpost updated with fresh information (thought leadership, news, member benefit and program details, and so on) is a bigger challenge than you probably realize. What’s the best way to optimize and maintain your blog? Writing for, Janine Popick, CEO of online marketing firm VerticalResponse, suggests a few tools that will ensure your blog “consistently delivers quality results,” including a plug-in calendar tool to help you schedule and manage posts, a premium note-taking app (Popick suggests Evernote) for jotting down story ideas and information on the go, and a pair of tools—Yoast for WordPress and Scribe from Copyblogger—designed to help readers more easily find your content online.

What tools do you use to optimize your organization’s blog or other online content? Tell us in the comments.


Corey Murray

By Corey Murray

Corey Murray is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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