It’s that time of year where everyone is talking about trends. Here is a roundup for you of those I consider to be most interesting, most accurate, or most data-driven – and read down to the bottom, where I list my five trends for the association industry.
Starting with the data, here’s Mary Meeker’s State of the Web 2013. There’s enough in this deck alone to keep you happy and pondering for weeks! EVERYTHING is now being re-imagined…
Next up – Esteban Contreras’ deck on the Social State. This one is also data, specifically about all those social networks we love (and love to hate). Esteban also has an accompanying e-book out.
Digging in a little more, the one I always look out for – Rohit Bhargava’s Marketing Trends. Rohit connects the dots like no-one else I know and always helps me think bigger. His trends are more like seeing the future.
And as if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, here are a couple more posts with specific angles that are worth a look:
What a Big-Data Business Model Looks Like (Ray Wang on HBR) – Associations were all over the “big data” buzzword this year at Tech. This is what big data is really all about – and we’re nowhere near being able to do any of this yet in the nonprofit and association industry. Read it and weep. [Related – IBM’s Tech Trends report, a study of 1200 IT professionals worldwide, reports that only 10% of orgs surveyed “have all the skills they need for the four emerging technologies (cloud computing, business analytics, mobile computing and social business)”]
Top Social Media Case Studies of 2012 – a great list from THE best social stats site out there.
So you may be wondering what I make of these trends – and what they mean for the association industry.
So here is my take.
1. It’s time for social business.
It’s not just a buzzword. You can’t get to the holy grail of big data if you don’t start with social CRM. With applying social data to membership management, and therefore getting to ROI. Social CRM is how you make social a part of everyone’s job. Bottom line.
2. Our job as associations to filter the signal from the noise – not to add more noise.
We’re all clear that pumping out content is the way to feed the social web. But mark my words – as everyone gets personally better and better at filtering out the noise, it will become more and more important for associations to be the filter. In the last few years, we learned what it meant for associations to be the platform – but now everyone knows how to do that. That does not differentiate you. Learn to curate the good stuff. Learn to stop spamming. Listen to what members want and how they want to interact with you. Encourage engagement in ways that focus on helping your members – and then the ROI will come. Retention will become already is far more important than recruitment – and the first will lead to the second.
3. Our mantra that all community is made of small groups has never been more true.
Small groups and private communities will become more and more important, specifically to help create the filter I was just talking about in #2. Right now we’re in a transition period where people have “social network fatigue” and might not see the value in joining yet another group. Make that value crystal clear, because as time goes on those private groups will be the major way for people to filter the noise – and you need to be there when they start to see that. Wondering why you can’t see anything going on in Google+? It’s because everyone is interacting inside private groups – and you’re not invited. Do what you need to do to get invited by your members, or create your own – but differentiate what you create from everything else that is out there.
4. Mobile is not about devices – it’s about timely access.
When you think about mobile, stop thinking “this has to work on an iPad and an iPhone”. Mobile is not about that. Mobile is about people wanting access to the information they need when they need it.Responsive design is a start, but the deeper question is about putting yourself in a members’ shoes and figuring out how to get them the specific content they want at the moment they are looking for it.
5. Everything is being re-imagined – except management.