Predicting The Future

Predicting The Future of Fraternity and Sorority Life. What Are Your Predictions?

by Matt Mattson

I’m certain that 2020 is the future. I’ve been waiting for the future to arrive ever since I was a kid, and I’m 100% sure it’s now finally here.

As we roll into a new decade, allow me to try to predict the future (and consider how some of the most important trends will impact sororities and fraternities). This is just me having some phun and sharing some of the things I’ve been reading lately (lots of fun articles linked).

[Related Phired Up Blogs: Growth Technology: The Future of Fraternity & Sorority. Better Data, Better Members. Recruiting Generation Z. Get Back To Basics.]

These are 10 of my predictions. What are your yours?

Culturally-Based Organizations Will Be The Innovators. While most of the industry will be looking to the traditional “leaders” (big, old, wealthy organizations) to point the way, great innovation always happens when opportunity and hunger meet… That’s exactly where the suddenly maturing Latinx, Asian-Interest, Gender-Inclusive, and Multicultural organizations of today find themselves. Look to them to point toward the future of fraternity/sorority. Demographics and societal trends all seem to be creating a perfect incubator for explosive growth.

People (including students) Need Rescued From Pressure. We already know that today’s college students are dealing with more anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges than any generation before. But this isn’t just about college students. It’s everyone. Part of our job at Phired Up/TechniPhi is to make people’s lives easier. We need to relieve the pressure (while everyone else seems to be amping it up). We need to pastor to and care for everyone we can. Fraternity/sorority members, in particular, will respond gratefully to anyone who can empathize with their daily reality and help relieve pressure (in practical ways — not just telling them “they matter”). Let’s relieve the pressure.

Folx Are Craving Humanity, Civility, and Genuine Connection. 2020 is an election year. Our society will be overflowing with vitriol, skepticism, #fakenews, anger, and tribalism. Meanwhile, today’s students are desperately looking everywhere for something real, something human, and something civil. Suddenly classic fraternity and sorority is wildly relevant! Suddenly brotherhood and sisterhood really mean something, especially when juxtaposed against the rage of the outside world.

New “Influencers” Will Emerge in Fraternity/SororityInfluencer Marketing isn’t new, but it is only trickling into fraternity/sorority so far. 2020 will change that. YouTubers and TikTok and Instagrammers will take control of the story of fraternity whether we like it or not. We have to be at the front edge of  influence. (*Note: The bit on “Augmented Reality” in that linked article has me thinking too, but our FSL world won’t start experimenting with virtual house tours and “imagine yourself in our letters” experiential marketing for a while now, in my opinion. They should, but they won’t.)

Partnership & Collaboration-Advocates Will Start To Emerge. I don’t have an article I’m going to reference here… I just predict that this will be the year when campuses and HQs are tired of positioning themselves against each other, and a few key players will emerge as leaders in bringing the industry together. I want us to play that role, of course, but others as well.

Higher Ed is Ready for Predictive Analytics (and we’re getting ready to deliver). Read this from a Digital Marketing Institute Article… “Analytics will also become a major, and mainstream, part of ensuring students are getting the most from education and graduating on time. By using predictive analytics institutions can provide students with support services before they encounter problems. For example, the University of Nevada is already using analytics to pinpoint when students need earlier intervention.” Phired Up & TechniPhi is working to create this for risk reduction and potentially other applications through our technology!

Reviews Reviews Reviews. We need more easily accessible, reputable, and relevant testimonials about fraternities and sororities. 68% of Gen Z read 3 or more reviews before buying something for the first time with their own money. GreekRank and other similar services will only increase in prominence and importance in the fraternity/sorority growth sphere. Not to mention the emergence of the Greek Life Scorecard from The Piazza Institute/Penn State becoming a REALLY important topic of conversation.

Artificial Intelligence Is Legitimately Impacting Higher Ed (and we need to be in the conversation). Read this from an Inside Higher Ed article  “…as colleges work to connect the dots, by creating data warehouses that draw on activity across systems, sometimes in real time. And institutions are putting the data into the hands of administrators charged with student success, giving professors a richer picture of their students and, in some cases, letting students get answers to their questions in new ways. What makes this round of technology different is artificial-intelligence algorithms, which can bring raw numbers into focus in new ways and can detect patterns fast enough to make meaningful interventions. Connecting the dots can form a rich paint-by-number of each student, a portrait colleges hope will increase retention and deliver clear ROI on the tech investment. And every student saved from failure helps colleges maintain enrollment during this time of challenging demographics.” Imagine the applications of smart AI when it comes to risk interventions, retention interventions, and designing custom member education experiences based on individualized membership profiles!

DMs Are The New Org Fairs. Direct and private social media interaction is continuing to emerge in the corporate marketing world, and it will flourish in fraternity/sorority. If you don’t know how to build a names list (or a new member class) via IG direct message, it’s time to ask some undergrads for their advice. They’re already doing it and it’s changing the game. It’s not a bad thing either. There is genuine connection happening in a one-to-one engagement effort that is likely to lead to real face-to-face interactions!

Try Before You Buy. Colleges are starting to experiment with it (Arizona State has a whole online freshman year it offers that you don’t have to pay for until the end!). This article mentions it too. Some smart sororities and fraternities will start to experiment with alternative payment structures that aren’t fear based like the current models (front loaded to maximize payments by new members), but are value-centered and provide a major differentiating factor. This will be experimental for now, but it will push the dues structures of the future. For now, the most practical trend will be financial transparency! The Panhellenic world will lead this trend, and others will follow.

That’s it! Those are my 10 predictions. What do you predict?