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On brand, on message, on ... Insta?

By Amanda Myers
September 18, 2019

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Guest post

About 59,100,000 results.

That’s what I got recently when I Googled “marketing to Gen Z.” For the curious, searching for “marketing to Millennials” yielded 59,500,000 results.

We read headlines about younger generations daily, but it’s not every day membership organizations get the opportunity to hear from young members (and prospective young members) directly. In December 2018, however, Personify surveyed 1,000 millennials and Generation Z members to understand their perspectives on membership and the organizations with which they engage.

Although we talk about them as one audience, young members represent a diverse group. Millennials, born roughly between 1981 and 1997, include those finishing college to parents well into their careers. Generation Z is just starting to enter the workforce.

The first trick in getting young members on board involves capturing their attention. How can associations and other member-focused organizations attract these generations?

Meeting young members where they are

When asked how they became aware of the associations in which they were most active, two in five young members reported they were recruited by someone they already knew. Two in five also said they were recruited in person at an event. Other top recruitment methods include:

  • Via email
  • Through an online ad
  • Via Facebook

Although Facebook performed well in our survey with regard to building awareness, other social channels delivered mixed results. In something of a surprise, LinkedIn ranks last among younger association members when it comes to initial recruitment. Only 7 percent of respondents became aware of an association via LinkedIn. Twice as many (15 percent) attributed early awareness to Instagram.

These generations’ appetite for digital media makes sense. There’s no shortage of articles talking about how digitally fluent millennials and digital native Gen Z are. They’re early adopters in terms of technology and are never more than arm’s reach from a mobile device. This deep experience, however, has created heightened expectations. Millennials and Gen Z members demand a seamless experience at every touch point with brands, both in person and online. Each touch point must build on the last and be consistent with the next.

Harnessing the power of your people

Even with an array of channels with which to get the word out, traditional advertising messages don’t cut it with young members–you need something extra.

recent study from Google found that Generation Z wants brands to be “a representation of their values, their expectations of themselves and their peers.” If they adopt a brand, what does it say about them as people? Gen Z members use brands to help shape their world.

Why? The implications of being associated with a particular brand is part of it, but there are thousands of products today, and the options are almost limitless. Knowledge is available to anyone willing to look for it, and networking can be achieved for free through digital sites.

Millennials and Gen Z need to know why becoming involved with your organization is going to create value in their lives, and they want to see the proof from their peers. After all, both generations distrust advertising and are leery of marketing messages. According to HubSpot, 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. Data from SocialChorus shows only 6 percent of millennials consider online advertising credible. Some 95 percent, however, do trust their friends.

Research recently featured in AdWeek suggests  63 percent of Gen Z wants to hear from peers and everyday folks, not celebrities. All told, Gen Z is 1.3 times more likely to purchase a product recommended by one of their favorite influencers than by a television or film celebrity.

Personify’s research shows a similar preference. When asked where they would be likely to go to learn more about an organization they’d consider joining, young members identified other members. In-person conversations, whether at an event (49 percent) or with someone they already know (42 percent), proved the most effective means of conversion.

These one-on-one conversations with real people matter. They remain essential in demonstrating a membership organization’s value and creating a meaningful experience. Asked how important it was that an association facilitates connections with authentic people who understand their unique needs during the initial part of their journey, 94 percent of young members identified it as important. Almost two-thirds suggested it was very important.

Want to learn more?

Join me at the upcoming webinar, “5 Ways to Build Buzz with Young Members on Instagram,” offered for free by Wild Apricot on September 24.

Tags: Membership associations