Once the holiday frenzy subsides, we’ll all be focusing on the new year ahead. What will 2012 hold for your organization?
We’re conducting an online survey so that our readers can help us identify the Top Membership Trends for 2012 – so be sure to participate. Take the survey – here.
But in the meantime, we did a little online research to see what predictions are being made that might impact associations, non-profits and membership organizations.
After reviewing predictions on small business, marketing and technology trends, as well as taking a sneak peek at the results of the Non-profit Communications Trends Report, here is a recap of the 6 key trends that may have implications for your association, non-profit or membership organization this year.
6 Key Predictions For Membership in 2012
1. Member-driven decision-making:
There have been a lot of online discussions about member value this year (including this one in our blog). And while the term “member-driven” may have become a little over-used, it is still critically important for organizations to find ways of listening to and involving members/supporters in the decision-making process for your organization – especially issues that center around programs and services.
Carol Tice (Entrepreneur.com) notes that in 2012 “customers [will be] in charge …more businesses will involve customers [members/supporters?] directly in merchandise and marketing [program/service] decisions …” She suggests that an easy way to find out what customers/members want is through a Facebook poll. You can also consider conducting online surveys and including a member's forum on your website or creating an online discussion group as a way of opening the lines of communication with your members.
2. Going mobile:
First we moved from desktops to laptops and now folks are increasingly connecting with the Internet via mobile - through tablets and smartphones. Pew Research has found that "83% of US adults have a cell phone of some kind, and that 42% of them own a smartphone" and "87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day." Fiona McEachran (Abnormal Marketing) suggests that "this is changing the way we are accessing our information, and news, and... there are currently not many fisherman, but a whole lot of fish!"
While your organization may not be ready to build an "app" for a mobile phone, you may want to start considering ways in which your members or supporters can access information, pay fees, make purchases, donate or register for events via their mobile phones or tablets. Jeff Hurt (Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections) suggests that "no single platform or technology will dominate in the next three years. Organizations should prepare to manage diverse IT environments with two to four major mobile clients through 2015." In addition, he advises that "the traditional website must morph into a mobile friendly site."
3. Increasing website interactivity:
If you haven't already - step away from a brochure-style website! As Kivi Leroux Miller (as well as all of the other "predictors" we are quoting) suggests, "many nonprofits have realized that old brochure-style websites don’t work anymore and have invested in making their websites more user-focused and interactive." Fiona McEachran reminds us that going forward, "websites need to become more an online platform and foundation for all their online activity, ...turn it into an engagement tool, ... [organizations] that embrace the “dynamic” approach, and start implementing a blog and social strategy will be best positioned into the coming months."
Your organization should consider incorporating web elements that enable interaction, such as blogs - where you can provide information and members can comment, or forums - where members can dialogue online with your organizaion and/or their fellow members and peers.
Video is also getting more and more popular as a way of adding impact to your website. McEachran notes that “Internet video is now 40 percent of consumer Internet traffic, and will reach 62 percent by the end of 2015 .” What will this mean for your [organization]? Opportunity if you act now! Video brochures, video newsletters, and video training."
4. Getting more social:
While you may be familiar with social media, perhaps 2012 will be the year that your organization will start to, as Kivi Leroux Miller suggests, "explore ways to use social media to reach beyond [the] usual groups of supporters." If you haven't gotten started with social media, you can begin by listening and following, then develop a strategy to determine what makes sense for your organization. The key social media tools include:
- Facebook - consider taking your Facebook presence to the next level with regular posts and updates, polls (as noted above) and posting videos
- LinkedIn - you may personally be on LinkedIn, but your organization can be too. You can use your organization's LinkedIn page to post articles, recruit volunteers and more - check out this post
- Twitter - this is a medium that can help build awareness and draw in supporters - consider starting by following some influencers in your sector, then perhaps you can start tweeting about projects, programs, events, etc.
- YouTube - as we noted in an earlier post, "71% of online Americans use video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo," so maybe this is the year to consider making a video! YouTube offers a Nonprofit Program that is available to eligible organizations (see Program Requirements) in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. It offers a designated “Nonprofit” channel that you can use to deliver your message, tell your story and connect with your supporters, members volunteers or donor
5. Moving to the Cloud:
In his Top Ten 2012 Strategic Technology Trends, Jeff Hurt suggests that this year cloud computing (delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, delivered via the Internet (like our Wild Apricot Membership Management Software) - "will have a broad long term affect on most industries. Look for an increase in large enterprise providers providing a full range of options. Organizations will continue to move from understanding the cloud to decisions about which workloads to implement on cloud services."
If your organization is still struggling with a multitude of different software packages to manage your membership database, events, email communications, etc., maybe 2012 is the year you looked into "moving to the cloud."
6. “Right-time,” integrated, multi-channel communications:
If your organization has yet to consider it, Kivi Leroux Miller suggests now is the time to start "integrating communications channels to increase effectiveness. Nonprofits are learning how much more effective their marketing and fundraising can be when messages are shared in an integrated way across multiple communications channels.”
Carol Tice, (Entrepreneur.com) also advised that we implement "right-time" multichannel marketing. Watch for new tools that will help [organizations] better analyze complex customer [member/supporter] behavior and comments on various social-media platforms. Then, you'll use that data to monetize your business's social-media presence with
In looking for predictions for 2012, one blog writer suggested we forget predictions and focus on good decisions since “predictions are really the consequences of decisions already taken.” So I hope this review of trends for 2012 helps with your yearly planning and decision-making.
Top Membership Trends Survey:
Don’t forget to participate in our 3-question online survey – Top 3 Membership Trends for 2012!
Take the Survey here:
What are your predictions for membership in 2012? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
Here are the predictions posts that we reviewed - check them out: