Four Trends that Associations Can Love

by Donna Oser

HubSpot social media management software and Talkwalker social insights recently partnered on a report that identifies the significant trends we can expect for 2021 in social media and beyond. Gleaned from Talkwater’s monitoring of a huge variety of digital sources, including social sites, websites, blogs, and forums, the report is interesting in that it captures societal shifts that are occurring due to the pandemic. Here are few insights for associations that stood out for me: 

Old School Marketing

‘Old school’ marketing will be an effective tactic for engaging communities. HubSpot and Talkwater cite newsletters and podcasts as mediums that gained momentum during COVID that are good examples of this. Communication mediums that provide a direct communication line to members and can be accessed on a smartphone are a solid bet in 2021. These are already in the wheelhouse of many associations and relatively easy to attain for those who haven’t yet embraced them. 

Connection

Conversations and connections are far more important than products and things. Talkwalker’s analysis indicates that it is information, engagement, and social issues that drive engagement and retention. Associations should focus on fostering 1:1 connection via social messaging, calls, shout outs, etc. Relationships are at the heart of associations, so leveraging this trend likely boils down to associations defining and quantifying how they will foster connection and then implementing with fidelity.   

Nostalgia

HubSpot and Talkwalker assert that nostalgia marketing will be a useful tactic for connecting strong positive emotion to a brand. In the midst of this pandemic, it’s easy to see how the past can seem rosier than the present. Nostalgia is a simple lever for associations to pull because treasure troves of pictures and paraphernalia can be put to good use to draw out the good memories members shared at association events. 

Accurate Information

The report posits that brands and social media channels will focus on highlighting the truth and silencing ‘fake news’ in the coming year. The current debate about truth versus fake news aside, providing accurate and timely information is what associations do daily. In light of the current reality, associations should consider giving more thought to the timing, targeting, and frequency of their information-sharing. Getting accurate information out early can limit the spread of misinformation. Sharing accurate information with influencers (such as media representatives, industry bloggers, and legislators) will enable the association to shape the message. Being persistent in getting accurate information out repeatedly via multiple channels will stymie misinformation.   

These are just a few of the items that stood out for me. If you’re interested, I encourage you to download the full report. Keep in mind, I suspect the report was put together before the debate about social media, media accuracy, and large tech censorship reached its current fever pitch. Still, I do think the report’s insights could help to inform association strategy as we lean into 2021. 

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