App-mania is a real thing. Smart phone users can (metaphorically speaking) walk into their app store on their phone and choose from over 1.5 million useful items to download and make their life easier, provide hours of fun and make information more accessible.
However, creating a successful app isn’t as easy at those numbers make it sound, especially for associations and non-profit groups. Consider, for a moment, the process of downloading a mobile app. Your audience must have a need or a desire to go into the app store, find the app, download it and use it regularly. If they do not go through this process, the app (and the price tag associated with it) is a big waste. That’s why an app must provide something more than what is available to your audience on your organization’s website.
But what is this ‘something more?’ There are many elements that make apps successful; gamification, connecting to information or people easier and financial motivations are just some of these elements. We can also get a better idea of what associations can include in a potential app from looking at social media and its allure.
Studies have shown that social media can be as addictive as some other vices, such as gambling and caffeine. The reason social media draws people is the element of notifications. When you receive a like on your Facebook status, a retweet of your witty Twitter post or that coveted double tab on your Instagram picture, your brain receives a little hit of dopamine. There’s a whole science behind what dopamine does to you, but we’ll cut to the chase; it makes you feel good. As we experience this feeling, we become more likely to seek it out as well as its cause. In social media’s case, the cause of the feeling is a notification. We post more, we spend more time on tweets and we obsess over the perfect filter for an Instagram photo so people will like it. In short, as we receive more notifications, we spend more time and find more value in social media.
There’s obviously power in notifications and this can help your association develop a successful mobile app. When thinking about what features to add to an app, think about their potential to notify users. For example, your association’s app could have a scheduling element so members can plan for networking events, conferences, workshops and the like. The app could send a little notification when an event in their area in coming up. Or, members can work towards becoming an ‘Association Champion’ through several tasks on the app. The app would send a little ‘ping’ when a new opportunity arises to score points, when they’ve reached a new level in their pursuit of being a champion or if someone likes their most recent accomplishments.
Adding the notification element to a mobile app doesn’t guarantee its success, but it creates that rush of excitement and accomplishment in users that will keep them engaged and coming back again and again. When members are frequently using your app, it opens up a world of possibilities. They are more likely to pay attention to promotions or marketing messages through your app, sponsors are more likely place ads when they know people are looking and members will link your association to increased value. This means more exposure, more revenue and happier, more loyal members.
So, if your association is building a mobile app or considering one, make sure to brainstorm some ways it can incorporate notifications into its design and use. It will be well worth the mental exercise it takes to develop these ideas.