Mobile: First Step or Next Step? There’s Something for Everyone

by Teresa Peltier, New Media & PR Specialist, WSKG

Even if you powered down your smartphone, an attendee at this year’s iMA Conference couldn’t get away from “mobile”. The conference kicked off with a robust session on the mobile audience, and mobile seemed to pop-up in every session thereafter. The general consensus: we know the audience is there, and it wants to watch, listen, read and meet us. And it wants us to meet it in the car, the house, the street, wherever life takes it and wherever the audience takes its phone.

Whether your station is looking to kickstart a new mobile project or reinvigorate an existing one, March 8th’s session, “Mobile: First Step or Next Step? There’s Something for Everyone” offered up great advice for meeting this mobile audience.

  • Your station might be at the starting point – you want an app or mobile site, but you're struggling to determine what content it will feature or service it will provide. Look at your analytics. Libby Peterek of KLRU started by thinking about content and using KLRU's web analytics to tease out the most popular. Now, KLRU’s mobile site offers a simplified offering: a “what’s on now” listing, plus links to the schedule, donate page, location info and contact info. Also consider where your station can develop a distinctive edge. PRX’s Matt MacDonald encouraged attendees to think differently about station content, as well as design, layout and functionality to strive for true originality in a flooded mobile world. Do you know your target audience? Think up this group, and find them in your community. Ask what they would want, and build it for them.

  • It’s one thing to say you want a mobile site or app, and another thing to create and maintain it. As with all digital strategy, consider your options. KQED hired an in-house mobile developer. St. Louis Public Radio turned to Listener Interactive for an out-of-house solution. A KCRW/PRX joint project committed extensive time and resources in-house and also involved pro-bono outsourcing to designers in the community. Have a frank conversation with all parties regarding your station’s budget and staff time and skills. With this info, you can decide whether to use internal staff, an external party or a hybrid.

  • Is your station feverishly working to complete your mobile project? Embrace rolling launches. You don’t have to do it all at once. KQED’s Colleen Wilson described the station’s tiered strategy, starting with an optimized mobile pledge form. KQED delineates which pages are and are not mobile-friendly, ensuring an improved user experience.

  • If you’re a station who has already launched a mobile site or app, you might think it’s looking a bit withered. The panelists agreed that many station strategies lean towards, “Let’s put something in place, and then change it later.” This is a starting point, and it’s important to see through the latter portion. Know your post-launch goals while you develop the mobile tool. Implement metrics to monitor your progress and/or setbacks, and use those to develop your subsequent plans. Ensure that the mobile product reaches the audience, and take steps to know how and why the audience is or is not using your product. KLRU recently launched a lovely new site for Austin City Limits using responsive design. St. Louis Public Radio keeps track of its app use and takes advantage of an easy RSS system to ensure a consistent flow of content. What is your station doing to keep your mobile strategy up-to-date?
No matter your progress in the mobile department, rest assured the audience will be there when you arrive. Not talking about mobile at your station? Whether you're referring to your mobile strategy or the uneasy feeling you get when your phone gets left at home, we can’t afford to be left behind.

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