Do you need a mobile app for your online community?

It's no secret that mobile use is only trending upward.
In the first quarter of 2019, there were 3.9 billion active mobile internet users. Mobile users also spend an average of 5 hours on their phones per day.
Soon to be adult people are leading the way in terms of mobile use. It is estimated that 95% of teens in the US own or have access to a smartphone.
The more people become bound to their mobile devices the more viable mobile apps will become as a means to help manage online communities.

Mobile Apps and Community Management

In order to cultivate, manage and drive engagement among communities one will need to leverage this powerful tool to keep up with the shifting trend towards mobile. This is especially true when you consider the wave of mobile-inclined teens who will soon be entering the workforce and attending college. Now more than ever it is of paramount importance to understand the growing relationship between mobile app usage and community management. To learn the mechanisms of activation and engagement for your always mobile audience.
mobile people

The Delicate Dance Between Mobile and Desktop

While mobile usage is clearly on the rise, desktop still has the edge in important ways.
Consider this statistic: in 2018 purchases made on desktop outnumbered purchases made on mobile devices by 270%. This is indicative of a lingering superiority that desktop has over mobile in terms of ease of use for specific tasks. This is why so many community engagement efforts fail.
If you are only offering a mobile app that must be downloaded to your community, you may not be seeing very many downloads. You are probably experiencing paltry engagement as well.
Despite how fast mobile interfaces are changing, they still have a ways to go. People still feel more comfortable making payments or signing up for newsletters and community forums on their desktop because in many cases, it’s easier. With standard web pages, the user does not have to download an app which means less effort for signing up.

That being said, community managers should not abandon their mobile experience development efforts! People may feel more inclined to opt-in on their desktop but they are much more likely to engage via a mobile device, for the most engaged ones especially. Your web page and mobile app should work symbiotically - adapting to the needs of the user as they engage with the community. There should be a clear sequence of activity for your desktop web page (opting in) and your mobile app (engaging).
The role of your mobile app should also be to supply an extra tool to your power users, the ones that are already the most engaged in your community, in order to facilitate engagement and therefore help to boost the rest of your community. Apps offer many good opportunities for the most engaged users to share their thoughts, achievements, and activities via messaging features, social media sharing buttons and easy media uploads.
mobile engagement

Mobile Apps and Mobile Web. Two Different Worlds

You may be tempted to focus on developing a mobile site for your organization and community because it is more economical. However, it is important to understand the difference between mobile app and mobile web.
A mobile webpage is like a normal webpage you would access on your desktop but it has been tailored for browsing on a mobile device. They are developed to run across a broad range of devices. It’s called mobile responsive.
A mobile app, on the other hand, is downloaded and offers some key advantages. For starters, content on mobile apps can be personalized based on usage and other information provided by the user. Mobile apps can be used with no data connection which makes them more accessible as well.
Perhaps the most significant advantage that mobile apps have over mobile web is that they make it much more congenial for communities to interact. Mobile apps leverage device capabilities and features like cameras, location sharing and media which make them naturally more immersive. Mobile app dynamic user experiences encourage community champions to post, update and communicate with other members. The app won't be a miracle add-on and won't be necessarily used by the whole community straight away, but it can be extremely powerful if it helps your community champions to generate even more engagement within the rest of the community.
mobile brand This personalised use helps to keep a community coming back as they develop a relationship not only with each other but with the app as well.
When you create a mobile app you also work on your brand presence. When a member of your community downloads your app, your logo is embedded into their device and essentially becomes part of the device every day. When a user is swiping through their phone and sees your organization’s icon or logo, they are reminded of the link they have with the community and are encouraged to participate in it. Think about your app logo next to Facebook, WhatsApp or Starbucks apps.

Hopefully, these insights will help you decide if you need a mobile app for your community. Some solutions like Hivebrite propose a personalised mobile app for clients who need to develop their brand.

Hivebrite is a leading provider of branded community management platforms and helps all size institutions grow and engage their community - Feel free to visit us or request a demo if you would like to know more.