Despite what you might have heard about the “selfie generation,” millennials are a powerful force eager to throw their passion and energy behind causes they care about. A recent report found that 85% of millennials donate to charity and 70% actually roll up their sleeves and volunteer their time. Millennials are also incredibly adept at raising awareness and rallying support via their social networks and digital influence.
You can harness these tendencies to benefit your association in untold ways, from gaining and retaining younger members to achieving more outcomes and long-term sustainability.
The first step in engaging millennials is to give them a cause to care about. Millennials (and many of your other members) are more likely to support a cause than an organization. Once you solidify your cause, there are a number of approaches you can use to reach this influential group of young people.
Millennials are the first generation that grew up with technology at their fingertips. They get their news from social media, not newspapers. They sleep near their phones. They are accustomed to fresh, new information instantly—most often on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
The presentation and delivery of your messages are more important than content (at least initially). For starters, ensure all your content is mobile friendly. Video is a must. Include memes and engaging images as part of your strategy. Share links to useful information. Use microsites and interactive messaging. Be brief. Can you say something meaningful and inspiring about your cause in 10 seconds or less? That’s the length of a Snapchat video.
Millennials mistrust traditional advertising methods. A better approach is to focus on delivering value. Use content marketing to educate, inform, and entertain your millennial audience. Provide resources and tools that help them do their jobs better and change more lives. Prove your association offers value, and millennials will come to trust you, attend your events, and pay your dues.
How can you know what millennials value? Hire some. Put one on your board. Chat with them online. Assemble focus groups or conduct surveys to determine what their core concerns are. Find out as much as you can about which causes they support, how they get their information, and what’s on the horizon.
Leverage social media
Social media is powerful vehicle for promoting your cause and targeting specific audiences using paid ads. But it’s more than that. Millennials are highly influenced by the actions and opinions of their peers. They value third-party reviews and recommendations more than the content coming directly from your organization. Create a culture of social influencers by providing free resources and encouraging or incentivizing your members to talk about your cause online.
Offer a seamless user experience
Make it simple and intuitive to support your cause and your association. Include buttons along with your calls to action. Publish sharable content. Make it easy to leave comments and reviews. Enhance in-person events with digital content members can access at home. When millennials have a positive experience with your cause, they will continue to work hard to support it.
Keep it fresh
Live streaming capabilities are an indication of just how fast millennials like their information—as it is happening and not a moment later. How can you keep up with this need for speed? Publishing engines and artificial intelligence can generate content or answer questions automatically. You will also need to invest time and personnel to ensure a steady stream of personalized, meaningful messaging and resources to rally millennials to your cause.
For many associations, reaching millennials is a new frontier that requires significant time and effort. While this might seem daunting, it’s well worth the investment. Your organization will be rewarded with passion and energy for years to come.