Three common outreach challenges for community media centers are: establishing beneficial community partnerships, efficient and effective community management, and creating value in the services they provide. If community media centers can’t overcome these challenges, they’ll miss opportunities to build meaningful give-and-take relationships with members of their community.
According to eMarketer research, in 2017, there have been more than 22 million “cord-cutters” — those who have gotten rid of pay TV options, like cable. That’s a 33% increase from 2016. A Flurry Analytics report found that mobile device users spend 90% of their time using mobile apps. This kind of data reminds community media centers how essential it is to develop a mobile app and to develop a mobile marketing and engagement strategy before launching their app.
Mobile apps can help community media centers deliver unique experiences that create value for the communities they serve. Here are a few tips to help community media use mobile apps for community outreach and engagement.
1. Use inclusive and multi-disciplinary collaboration when setting objectives.
In a recent article, I stated that sustainable trust is established when there’s a significant relationship between community members and community media. An inclusive collaboration between media centers and community representatives will help centers address the needs of the people they serve. This integrative and experiential approach will help community media centers develop a mobile app that provides real value to the community.
This approach doesn’t have to be a logistics disaster, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Using a team approach and a few brainstorming sessions, here’s how your community media center can start:
- Identify critical objectives for your media center.
- Identify specific goals for each objective.
- Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Identify segments of people and the behaviors you’ll analyze to determine your success or failure.
This process will keep your media center focused throughout your mobile app development project.
2. Consider all the communities you serve while developing your mobile app.
Developing a mobile app with a one-size-fits-all approach is a recipe for disaster. It’s essential for community media centers to think of the communities they serve on a micro-level:
- Age groups
- Location in your community (urban, rural, downtown, suburbs)
- Special interest groups
- Racial and ethnic groups
- Community partners
Design your mobile app to emphasize relevant benefits and features for all of the communities your center serves. The inclusive and multi-disciplinary collaboration used while goal-setting will help you during this step in the process.
While developing your mobile app, remember to add features that allow your center to learn more about your app’s users:
- Enhanced analytics
- Demographics questions during and after signup (keep them short)
While great benefits and features improve user engagement, media centers must stay focused on delivering an exceptional user experience. Ed Sattar, CEO of QuickStart, wrote in his blog post that app developers “should be able to optimize the animations, speed, interactions and communication of your web application.”
3. Work with influencers to launch your mobile app.
In a blog on Social Media Examiner, Juliet Carnoy wrote that social media influencers “can persuade others by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity.” Using influencers to launch your mobile app can help a media center get quality downloads by targeted community members.
A partnership with influencers should allow you to show community members how they can benefit from using your mobile app and how they can easily integrate your app into their daily lives. It’s important to demonstrate how your mobile app can and will meet the needs of the community, so make sure you choose influencers who reflect various community members.
You want to keep the following in mind when choosing influencers to promote your app:
- An influencer’s number of followers means nothing if they haven’t engaged in months.
- An influencer’s content, followers and personality should align with your mission and values.
- The influencer must willingly and comfortably promote your mobile app.
4. Measure and analyze community members’ behaviors and actions.
It’s important that community media centers measure the effectiveness of every outreach tool it uses. Some tools work better than others for targeting specific groups in your community. A successful community outreach strategy always includes measuring and analyzing your community members’ behaviors and actions. You should be able to answer the following questions:
- What app features do they use most?
- Which app users use what features (and how often)?
- How often do our users login to your app?
- How did your mobile app users hear about your app?
- How often do your users engage with your content?
Asking these questions can help your media center figure out if you’re on target to meet your outreach goals.
Community media centers are encouraged to use an inclusive and multi-disciplinary collaboration when setting objectives for developing a mobile app. This step allows centers to design mobile apps that emphasize benefits and features that meet the needs of every community they serve.
Working with social media influencers will help community media centers launch their mobile app and get quality downloads from target community members. Measuring and analyzing their mobile marketing efforts will help centers understand if they have met their objectives.
This article first appeared on Forbes.
Genia Stevens is a digital marketer and Forbes columnist. She is owner and managing partner of Belwah Media, an award-winning integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL. Genia Stevens is passionate about community media, tech tools, podcasting, and everything digital. Connect with Genia on LinkedIn and Twitter.