2019 Predictions for the Community Industry

The new year is just getting started but so far it seems like the year of “Community-first” everything. Here’s what we are seeing at Mobilize, and what we believe will play out this year. Thanks to David Spinks and Rachel Happe for their predictions, which fit in nicely with ours.

  1. The conversation will shift from the value received by the organization (Return-On-Investment) to the member value (return-on-involvement). Accordingly, and analytics around member health and satisfaction will take center stage with organizational ROI being a direct result of member value.
  2. Companies will begin to collaborate, sponsor or acquire leading professional communities as they recognize the thought leadership opportunity inherent in a powerful professional network — the epitome of the “value-exchange” era of marketing. These networks will drive lead generation, advocacy, support and sales, and will open up new monetization avenues and added value for members.
  3. Individuals will seek professional networks outside of the large social networks as the awareness and frustration surrounding data usage drives the demand for private opportunities to collaborate and learn.
  4. A growing understanding of how the need to belong is driving individuals, and how that need can be better supported by online interactions.
  5. The Rise of the Chief Community Officer! We will see the first few high profile examples who have a seat at the big table, and who take a multi-disciplinary perspective, including business strategy, recruiting, event planning and data analysis.
  6. Similar to Rachel’s prediction, we are seeing a growing rise in board involvement around community as board members can now directly connect the dots between community health and growth, innovation and larger organizational missions.
  7. Human-centered design will become a MUST for platforms that want to serve communities, with a focus on “time well spent,” calm tech and humane tech.
  8. Community platforms will provide richer interactions and value to members — beyond many-to-many tools like feeds, forums we will see more 1:1 conversations, calendars, opportunity sharing boards, etc.
  9. Forward-thinking offline communities, like major conferences, will become larger, powerful online, year-round communities as they develop the capacity to keep members engaged.
  10. Similar to David, we believe community vendors will continue to be more solution-driven rather than generic, one-size-fits-all platforms.
  11. And perhaps the most unabashedly self-serving prediction: a continued migration from older, forum-driven platforms to more modern, communicate-from-anywhere, human-centric solutions that members love.

Most importantly, we see a huge opportunity this year to help people feel a genuine sense of belonging — not a divisive or false one driven by social media algorithms, but a true sense of connection to people and purpose.

Here’s to the new year.