8 Ways to Engage Your Millennial Members OnlineJanuary 11th, 2017 | Share on:
Are you looking for inspiration on how to engage the millennials in your membership organisation? This blog will give you eight key points and examples for how you can use the web to better engage this demographic.
I have already written a blog on why we at VeryConnect agree with the CEO of Hootsuite that the term Generation Connectivity, or Gen C, is more appropriate than the word Millennials when talking about the audience for your online presence. We believe that people from all generations can possess the ‘millennial’ traits of being digitally savvy and wanting to connect, contribute, and access important services online.
The following recommendations can be applied both for your millennial membership audience, and for a cross-generational membership cohort belonging to Generation Connectivity. Here are eight pieces of advice for engaging your Gen C members.
There are several ways to engage your millennial and Gen C members online.
1. Get Active Online and on Social Media
If you were to pick only one thing that characterises Gen C, it would be the fact that they are all online. To meet your Gen C members where they are, your organisation needs to be online too.
The basics are to have a good website and an active and strategic presence across the appropriate social media platforms. You want to be on the social media platforms that lend themselves well to the purpose of your organisation, at the same time as they are naturally frequented by your audience. This is explained in more detail in this blog by Sprout. It is important to stay active on social media, and while there are no hard rules regarding how often you should post, there is expert advice to draw on.
TED has a great online presence with a modern website and a presence across multiple social media channels appropriate to their varied audience. Their 9+ million twitter followers are testimony to that they excel in engaging their audience online.
Look to @TEDTalks on Twitter for social media inspiration
2. Make it Possible to Engage on Mobile
According to ComScore, nearly 80% of our total social media time is spent using mobile phones. The data also reveals that desktop web browsing is steadily falling year on year. Since Gen C are spearheading adoption of digital technology, this means that you really cannot afford to have a bad online presence on mobile if you want to engage this audience.
Mobile optimisation is not just about making sure that your site can be accessed using a mobile phone. Special measures must be taken when it comes to legibility, site navigation, and content layout. If your visitors can’t read all text or click all buttons, they simply won't be able to engage with you.
Etsy is a site that works well on mobile. Content is structured so that you can easily find what you are looking for, and buttons are easy to tap.
If you want a tailored explanation of what is needed to mobile optimise your website or members area, you can get in touch with us and we'll be more than happy to help.
3. Be Personal...
Gen C want to be treated as individuals, not as a distant target demographic. Content that feels personally relevant is far more likely to have an impact and encourage members to engage with you.
A personal touch can start as simple as including the recipient’s first name in your emails. You can then move to more advanced strategies, such as tracking what pages members visit on your website, and then use this data to personalise the content they see in your emails and on your homepage.
Including a first name in the headline can go a long way to make a newsletter feel personalised, here's how we did it for our New Year newsletter.
4. ...and Show Your Personality
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, said that “in this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart”. It’s a commonly repeated mantra that the best brands of today are human.
Being yourself in everything you do, and particularly on social media, is essential in order to reach out to Gen C as they look for a personal touch in the organisations they choose to engage with. Knowing who you are as a brand also helps you to stay relevant, which is equally important as Gen C are put off when they perceive your messaging as impersonal advertising.
A possibly unexpected example of showing personality comes from PwC’s #BallotBriefcase campaign. PwC wanted to raise awareness of their involvement with the Academy Awards among a younger audience, so they used Snapchat to let their digitally savvy audience follow the journey of the Oscar ballot around the US. The campaign received a Shorty Award for best use of social media in B2B marketing.
PwC used a personal approach instead of traditional corporate advertising to reach a young and digitally savvy audience.
5. Make desired actions easy
Gen C wants to participate and interact, but as everyone else, they want to avoid hassle. Actions that require complicated forms, long processes, or offline action can seem like too much hassle to be worth it.
You need to make sure that the most important actions are easily available online. For example, signing up to become a member and paying membership fees. Our membership software makes sign up and payments hassle free.
Once signed up, you want your members to keep engaging with you. Make the threshold to engagement low by keeping some of your content bite-sized and accessible, such as short posts, videos, and quizzes. In this way your members can engage with you in small, everyday ways.
We've featured ACCA's Continuing Professional Development programme before. What we like is how ACCA breaks down educational content into smaller chunks, such as short videos, webinars, and livestreams. In this way, ACCA helps their members with their learning wherever they are, and give them a strong incentive to keep engaging with the organisation.
ACCA uses social media as one of their platforms for bite-sized learning.
6. Give opportunities to network
Networking is often the main reason why Gen C join membership organisations in the first place. It is not always about professional networking – it can also be about connecting with other people around a common cause or interest.
While real life events remain important, online communities can help your members to take networking a step further by providing opportunities to chat in forums as well as connecting with remote members. This can be particularly useful for membership organisations with a national or global member base where real life events are not always easy to attend.
Member networking and participation in your online community do not always happen by itself. Having a community manager can help. This is someone who starts off the conversation in your online community and creates buzz while also providing direct member support.
Rachel Silver, community manager at Birchbox, tells us about one of the ways she sparks off conversations:
“We share one of our favorite products and ask our fans, "Have you tried this? What did you think?" This allows us to get customer feedback and also allows us to build community because responders inevitably enter into conversation with one another… By encouraging and applauding our community when they tell us what they think, we build both community and loyalty."
7. Encourage contributions
Members of Generation Connectivity want to do more than just passively consume. You should take advantage of this and invite your audience to contribute directly. Don’t be afraid of handing over the reins!
Opportunities to contribute can be done on a small or a big scale. On the easier side of the spectrum are member blogging and social media takeovers, where chosen members get access to post from your social media accounts for a limited period of time.
A more elaborate example is Charity:Water's anniversary campaign. The campaign used Google Hangouts to empower supporters to start their own small-scale fundraising campaigns. Every dollar raised was then matched with an equal donation by the charity.
The anniversary campaign was lauded as a good example of a non-profit organisation campaign appealing to millennials, since it's focus was on authenticity and providing a good quality online experience.
Charity:Water uses supporter engagement to build a community and support the cause.
When your members have done a significant contribution to your organisation, don’t forget to give them recognition! This can be done simply by saying thanks, or through a formal reward scheme.
8. Create a seamless experience
Summarising these points - Gen C wants ease of action, and they highly value authenticity and a personal approach. If your organisation can provide a seamless experience showing your personality across all platforms, you will have greater impact.
You can create a holistic experience and a strengthen your brand by integrating the online and offline services you offer members. Simple ways to do this are to start and encourage Twitter hashtag conversations for your events, and to let your members connect with each other on your online community before and after live events.
We work with the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) to help them with member networking before and after their annual conference. Members can easily search for and connect with each other on the IRSPM online community.
International member networking is easy on IRSPM’s online community.
Integrating all your digital services in your online community also helps to create a seamless experience. By making everything your members need to engage with you available in the same place you create a consistent and personal experience.
Get in touch with us if you want to explore the opportunities that integrating your online community with member services can give you. We can help you to create an engaging online community where members also can sign up, renew, make payments, book events, and much more.
In short, you need to match the connectivity that characterises Gen C and millennials if you want to engage them as members. Don’t be afraid to look at what’s been proven to work for other organisations, but ultimately, taking a unique approach that reflects who you are is likely to create the strongest appeal.
Follow VeryConnect on LinkedIn for more articles on how to recruit and engage members in your organisation.