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4 tips for engaging young people with your organisation

Here at Research by Design, when conducting research for membership organisations we often see a low percent of students/ young people making up the total figures. Whilst many associations do already offer discounted, or even free, membership to this group, that is not always enough to truly pique their interest and begin building engagement with the association. It may not seem a significant issue to most organisations considering the other generations make up most of their membership, however appealing to the youth of today can help secure and grow the membership of tomorrow.

With each new generation comes a new form of communication, different interests and new ways of working. For pre-Generation X, telephone and TV were the best methods of reaching out to individuals which greatly differs compared to Millennials who much prefer texting and were the early adopters of social media. The youth of today, Generation Z, have the digital world at their fingers, using social media daily, replacing emails with WhatsApp and diaries with Amazon’s Alexa. Considering this, it is no surprise that the way an organisation communicates, connects and appeals to its members and potential members needs to develop accordingly to ensure it maintains relevance to the businessmen/ women of the future.

Changing communication channels

Whilst it may seem that email is the easiest and most efficient way of reaching a high proportion of your members, this may no longer be the best method for getting on the radar of the younger generation. Emails can end up going un-noticed in their ever-growing inbox. Social media is their newspaper. If it isn’t trending on Twitter, is it even happening? Ensuring your organisation has a good presence across multiple social platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, is the best way of getting information out there for young people to see. Not only can they view this on their own feed, but youths take notice of what their friends are liking/ sharing as well, providing an even larger reach for your post.

Take the brand Gymshark, for example, which was initially started by two University students and has transformed into one of the biggest fitness brands around. Their social media presence is undeniably massive. They cleverly use it to their advantage, using online fitness influencers/ athletes to promote their products resulting in a really strong connection with young people due to the continual exposure online. Not only has this resulted in increased sales for the company but also aligns with the fitness industry becoming one of the fastest growing business sectors in the UK[1]. Having a presence that can be seen and shared online is so important when engaging young people, as this gives them an opportunity to feel connected to your organisation.

Reaching out

It has been said in the news that Generation Z are stereotypically viewed as ‘lazy’[2]. With the range of ‘work from home’ jobs now available and the influx of online ‘influencers’ young people are exposed to, it is no wonder they are tempted to explore these routes or take an entrepreneurial approach of aiming to create their own start-up. Whilst this self-motivation is encouraged, it is not a model that will fit the whole generation and can potentially cause a lack of yearning for other, more traditional pathways. With this comes a risk that the need for professional associations becomes a lot less clear.

Reaching out to young people at events such as university ‘freshers fairs’ and ‘job fairs’ or by visiting schools is a great way of targeting them whilst requiring little effort on their part. Also, reaching out to university societies/ youth clubs that relate to your area of expertise may provide the exposure needed to get onto their radar. Just because they aren’t looking, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Face to face interaction may be less frequently used by Generation Z, however it may be the push and inspiration they need to spark an interest and get involved with an organisation and its associated career pathways.

Think outside the box

If the youth of today enjoy anything, it’s something new, unique and innovative. Even right here in Birmingham we’ve seen a massive success in the likes of Ghetto Golf in Digbeth. Who ever thought of mixing cocktails and music with a game of crazy golf? Or even the craze of Trampoline parks that has swept the nation… weren’t they just something we had in our gardens as children? The point is, when arranging events, it is important to consider what would appeal to young people and make them think “that is something I want to be a part of!” Of course, your events still need to be informative and relevant to your organisation/ sector but adding in an extra quirk, or running a separate, specially targeted event to get young people involved, is something that could result in a number of new, young members.

Mix up the benefits offered

Offering students/ young people discounted memberships is a brilliant way to engage and draw in their membership, what student doesn’t love a good deal? However, other member benefits may not be appealing to them in the same way. Whilst important aspects such as insurance policies or access to resources are key, some of the less pressing offers, like a magazine subscription, may just not be relevant to today’s youth. Amongst Generation Z are some of the keenest travellers and biggest foodies of all generations, meaning discounts on holidays, hotels or certain restaurants may be of more value to them and could help shape their perception of the membership offer as better value for money. Perhaps even running a monthly social event to increase opportunities for networking amongst the younger generations may be of more interest and generate wider appeal.

These subtle adaptions can help your organisation to engage more young members, heightening interest in your sector and providing you with a solid foundation for the future.

This entry was posted in Membership, Social media, tagged Membership, Millenials and posted on October 10, 2018

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