June 21, 2013
I recently attended ASAE’s 2013 MMCC (Marketing/Membership/Communications/Component Relations) Conference in Washington, D.C. Much of the conversation at the event focused on “communications in a mobile world.” Sometimes we in the association world are overly wordy, but with communications these days, less is more. Why? Because our members are “moving mobile.” Here are some examples of the shift:
- The two primary activities cited by users of mobile devices are “networking” and “information seeking”-sounds a lot like why people belong to associations!
- Today, 41% of all emails are opened on a mobile device
- ¼ of time spent on mobile devices is dedicated to social networking
- 400 million people use Facebook on mobile
- ½ of all Twitter usage is mobile
With all of that activity on mobile, many of us still persist in creating content designed for a desktop. We need to learn how to communicate better on a small screen. We can (and should!) communicate visually such as with infographics, edit our content down (“content sacrifices”) or design our sites for mobile.
One of the hottest debates going on now is responsive design versus adaptive design. Websites now need to function on screens of all sizes, so sites should be able to adjust. Both responsive and adaptive designs are design options for mobile-optimized sites. They each differ in how the content is delivered to the device. Learn more about responsive design in a recent post by my colleague Matt Parry.
The topic of apps also came up. A few years ago, based on tablet usage at conferences, many groups were developing apps only for tablets. Today, most are designing apps for both mobile devices and tablets. Another development is that new apps do not need to be developed for every conference. The same app template can be used every year with some minor tweaks and it will archive past conference information. That’s helpful for event planners who now don’t have to pay for a new app for every year’s annual conference.
Most associations cannot afford to “do it all” and have to depend on member surveys and metrics to determine what to develop. Additionally, many associations cited issues where the general membership was much further along in understanding the “Mobile March” than their leadership.
Another trend that MMCC attendees have identified is the “flood of metrics”. Many associations have begun to hire communications folks with a “math and science” background as opposed to an “English major” background. More and more data is coming in and we need to learn how to interpret it appropriately. If that means an engineer on the PR staff, so be it!