Where Do You Lie On The Digital Transformation Spectrum?

While two associations recently announced plans to bolster strategies to keep pace with the digital transformation, a new report on nonprofit digital outlooks outlines the trends and challenges of going digital.

Plenty of associations are somewhere in the stages of adopting or implementing a digital strategy.

In December the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced it was moving “full steam ahead” on a new digital strategy that aims to take the association into the next decade.

As part of the association’s Transformation Initiative, which also includes elements to better serve members, the group will “adopt a ‘digital-first’ mindset to become a multimedia, multiplatform science communication enterprise, rather than a print-centric publisher,” AAAS CEO Alan Leshner and Board Chair Phillip Sharp wrote in an announcement.

Among the “digital-first” initiatives are a new online only, open-access journal for high-quality scientific research, digital reorganizations for all of the association’s Science journals, and a new online networking platform geared toward the scientific community, Trellis.

Another association putting some weight behind a new digital strategy is PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, which went a slightly different route from AAAS and acquired a business-to-business media company to develop a platform with more digital offerings.

“We looked at our digital footprint and what it would take to really develop a robust digital platform like theirs, with content marketing, video, everything else, and it was a pretty daunting task,” PMMI President and CEO Charles D. Yuska, told Associations Now. “It turned out, when we approached Summit Media Group about a possible acquisition, it turned out to be the right time for them and the right time for us to get together.”

These are just two trends among associations and nonprofits augmenting their digital strategies. A new report conducted by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), online community Care2, and Canadian nonprofit consulting firm hjc recently identified a few others.

The “2015 Digital Outlook Report” found, for example, that less than half of the nearly 500 respondents had staff who are solely dedicated to an online or digital strategy.

Yet, resources such as staff are seemingly more important than investing in the latest and greatest technology when it comes to engaging audiences digitally. Staff shortages were also among challenges reported by respondents when it comes to creating a digital strategy. Other challenges included proving ROI internally and a lack of training.

“Many of the recommendations highlighted in this report require staff time to strategize, make changes, and optimize online processes or experience,” Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN, said in a statement. “They do not, necessarily, require new funds or larger budgets for new tools. It’s a matter of being strategic, not buying more technology.”

The report also highlighted a move to the visual when it comes to popular marketing tactics this year. For example, a majority of respondents reported they will be placing more focus on video, images, and infographics in 2015, while podcasts, memes, and advertorials will be on the decline.

The report did warn, however, that organizations should not rush to adopt popular tactics just because they’re working for other organizations.

“It is crucial that organizations not dive head first towards the mass implementation of these tactics, even if they appear to be generating buzz and energy across the sector,” the reported noted. “Cross-sector benchmarks are incredibly valuable, but what works for many other organizations might not work for yours.”

What trends are you noticing on the digital engagement front? Let us know in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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