As we learn that texting is rapidly replacing e-mail, associations are reinventing themselves once again. Should your association board consider making smartphone applications available to become more relevant to younger members? A few national associations are using this technology. But, you need to consider that smartphones are powered on differing technologies. That means that an application programmed for iPhone will not work on Android, Palm or Blackberry – each utilizes a different platform. Programming costs are expensive propositions. You risk alienating members if you choose one techology over another. Chances are excellent that if you survey your members now, iPhone will be the most popular. But Android sales are growing exponentially.
There are other “green” options that some associations have explored with their annual conventions. One association raised registration fees to include an iPod Touch loaded with applications for each registered member. Another association provided a “loaded” iPad at their annual meeting. They preloaded the agenda, course materials, exhibit halls (with weblinks to vendors), registration lists, etc. Neither association recouped their costs, even though they increased registration fees. [Note: Due to electronics disposal, this delivery should not be billed as environmentally friendly.]
However, for the purposes of most readers of this e-newsletter, consider the mobile web – designing Internet pages intended for use by smartphones and electronic tablets. Programming costs much less than applications, and your members can access the mobile web via all smartphones. Think beyond conventions and seminars. For example, would your members find it handy to access your membership directory via smartphone?