Engaging the Millennials: Your Association’s Not-Too-Distant Future
Is your association aging? Have you noticed your membership the bottom seems to be falling out slowly, as active, engaged members retire … and aren’t always replaced by younger counterparts? No matter how strong your organization is overall, this trend may be making you question its relevance to the latest generation.
Millennials have different priorities and preferences than your well-established members. According to a Velvet Chainsaw blog post, “Follow These Tips to Engage Millennials in Your Conference Experience” by Jeff Hurt, which referenced a study by Achieve, these wet-behind-the-ears professionals like to:
- Connect via technology
- Interact with their peers
- Give feedback—as long as it’s quick and easy to do
To make your association more attractive to millennials, try these approaches to event content delivery:
- Offer a mobile event app if you don’t already. If you’ve got one, improve it. For this tech-savvy crowd, an elegant, streamlined app is better than a merely functional one, though anything is better than nothing. Millennials will consider this a given.
- Give them opportunities to share content. This could mean emailing a colleague a magazine article from your digital publishing platform or sharing experiences from the conference on Twitter, preferably through your app. Get ready to deliver resources conducive to peer sharing.
- Make sharing simple. Build in opportunities to build community with peers and share information. Remove any roadblocks to an easy back and forth flow of content. Millennials want to spread the word—but they won’t if it’s inconvenient. Having grown up in a digital, gotta-have-it-now world, they’re often too impatient to take extra steps.
- Provide a mobile-friendly experience. This is a non-negotiable term for millennials. They research, schedule, shop, learn, and network online, using mobile devices more often than not. Holding a conference without WiFi available will be a big turn-off for young professionals.
Is it just me, or do these newbies seem a little demanding? As far as I can tell, they don’t mean to be. It’s just that they come to your association with a different set of experiences. What millennials see as essential elements to a conference may not gel with your own ideas, but remember, they are bellwethers of the changes that lie ahead.
To remain relevant to the next generation of professionals in your field, listen to the millennials and incorporate more of what they would like to see. It won’t be long before they’re running the show. Evolve with them, with a mobile event app and a digital publishing platform, and they’ll make sure your association is part of the future they see before them.