From Events to Experiences: The Evolution of Membership Organizations in the Pandemic Era - Russ Magnusson & Alex Skinner

Membership organizations face a digital revolution as online platforms threaten their networking stronghold, forcing them to adapt their strategies and prioritize valuable content and influencer strategies to stay relevant in the digital age.

My special guests are Russ Magnusson and Alex Skinner

Alex Skinner is the CEO and co-founder of Pixelate, a creative tech business that specializes in providing websites and digital platforms for membership associations, trade associations, professional associations, unions, and regulators. With a wealth of experience spanning over 20 years, Alex and his team have successfully delivered various projects, from building large-scale web platforms to implementing event tech solutions. Their expertise has been sought after by organizations in the UK, Europe, and North America. As a guest on the Membership World podcast, Alex brings a factual and data-driven perspective to the discussion on the impact of the pandemic on the membership sector. His insights into the digital landscape and the challenges faced by membership organizations provide valuable information for listeners seeking to navigate the evolving industry.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Discover the transformative impact of the pandemic on the membership sector and how organizations are adapting to thrive in the digital age.
  • Explore the rise of online networking platforms and uncover strategies for leveraging them to expand your membership and engage with your community.
  • Learn the importance of creating valuable content that resonates with your members, fostering loyalty and attracting new prospects.
  • Understand the significance of social events in building a strong membership community and explore innovative ways to host engaging and inclusive virtual gatherings.
  • Uncover the role of AI in membership organizations and discover how it can streamline processes, personalize experiences, and enhance member satisfaction.

Tech Solutions During the Pandemic

The rapid worldwide adoption of technology solutions during the pandemic revolutionised many sectors, including membership organizations. With in-person meetings and events temporarily halted, organizations had to rely heavily on various digital tools for communication and engagement, significantly accelerating the digital transformation process. Russ Magnusson highlighted this evolution, drawing on his experience with Rd Mobile. They developed specific mobile solutions to cater to organizations' changing needs for events and year-round member engagement. While these changes were initially born of necessity, many organizations are looking to maintain this digitization drive even after the pandemic subsides, given its benefits in terms of convenience, flexibility and reduced costs.

The Return to In-Person Events

Despite the benefits and convenience of digital events, in-person events have a unique appeal and carry a significant value that is hard to replicate virtually. They offer more immersive experiences, greater interpersonal connectivity, and networking opportunities, which are often the main attractions for attending these events. Russ Magnusson and Gordon Glenister discussed this critical aspect during the podcast conversation, emphasizing the value in-person events continue to hold, despite the rise in popularity of their virtual counterparts. Russ found it surprising that more organizations had not continued with online events considering their cost effectiveness and the potential for reaching a larger audience. However, he recognized the importance of in-person connections and networking that physical events provide.

Successful Adaptation to the Changing Landscape of the Membership Sector

The ongoing digital transformation requires membership organizations to adapt and evolve in order to meet the changing needs and expectations of their members. Successful adaptation depends upon an organization’s ability to leverage digital technologies to enhance their service offerings and improve member engagement. It is essential that organizations embrace this transition as an opportunity for growth and improvement rather than seeing it as a threatening challenge. The Membership World podcast episode with Alex Skinner highlighted the importance of organizational culture in adaptation. Alex emphasized that associations that promptly accepted and embraced change during the pandemic fared better than their more reticent counterparts. This swift responsiveness allowed them to implement necessary technological changes effectively. However, Alex noted that the rush to digitize also led to some hasty decisions, which now necessitate reconsideration to ensure seamless integration of different systems and technologies.

This podcast has been sponsored by RD Mobile - the complete events and membership engagement platform. Find out more RD Mobile | Virtual Event Platform and Member Engagement App (