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Hard to believe it’s time to talk 2021, but most of us are glad about that.

2020 saw the biggest hurdles of any generation. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on industries of all shapes and sizes (except for hygiene and, weirdly, toilet paper). But there were many lessons learned throughout the pandemic that will carry us into 2021 and beyond, enabling us to be a more-prepared society going forward.

So, what’s in store for 2021? Just as no one predicted a global pandemic for 2020 (and, if they had, I hope they also bought a lottery ticket), no one knows what 2021 will look like. But we can speculate what trends will continue into 2021, including:

 

1. Virtual and hybrid events.

This is a no-brainer. Although there has been a steep learning curve for event planners this year, there have also been moments of brilliance coming up with new ways to engage members. When in-person annual conferences were postponed or outright canceled, virtual events stepped in to take their place. We discovered that, even in times when you couldn’t attend in-person events, you could still meet your continuing education obligations. We will see that trend continue well into next year, as technologies advance and people continue to be skeptical about meeting in-person (can you blame us?). We see this continuing even after the pandemic has ended, capturing the attention of people who don’t like to/don’t want to/can’t travel but still need their continuing education requirements.

 

2. Social media.

If your association is still not on social media, you (and, more importantly, your members) are missing out. Social media is the #1 way to reach a broad audience quickly and effectively. Whether it’s to share (public) organization news, promote a continuing education opportunity, or just to show a bit of personality, social media is the glue that holds together the people in your association. The pandemic has dramatically increased the amount of time people spend online, including how they research potential member organizations. An active social media can make all the difference between your association and a similar organization.

 

3. Member engagement.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on our daily lives. Working from home while dealing with kids learning from home has taken its toll on member morale and productivity. In the upcoming year, associations need to focus on making connections in a world that feels quite disconnected. Ongoing communication and outreach can help boost morale and motivate members to start their own outreach programs, potentially drawing in even more members to your association. Ideas include:

  • Delivering welcome kits to new members
  • Establishing mentor/mentee programs
  • Spotlighting members throughout the year
  • Book clubs
  • Contest and giveaways

 

4. Interactive content.

To piggyback on the member engagement trend above, interactive content is a great way to engage your members. Today’s member needs more than blog posts, articles, and white papers. Interactive webinars, branded videos, and descriptive infographics are just as educational but can be more entertaining, visual, and engaging, providing more value for your members.

 

5. Social responsibility.

Between the pandemic and social unrest, 2020 has been a year of turmoil. It’s time to start focusing on the positive impacts your association can have on the world. We’ve seen a big increase in brand activism, where more and more organizations are becoming vocal about their values and beliefs. It’s a trend we expect to carry on into 2021, with a new administration taking over and people expecting change. Potential members are not only researching what your association does, but also how you present yourselves on social and environmental issues. It’s a fine line to walk, but for those who do it authentically, it will resonate with prospective and current members alike, making your association’s “brand” something they can be proud of.

 

The Bottom Line

While, obviously, these trends don’t embody a full list, they will hopefully get you started in the first few months of 2021. As your partner in association management, Stansfeld can help you navigate these murky waters of 2021. Contact us to get started!