Communicating with and Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z in 2015

It is important to be aware that every generation thinks differently. They have different shared experiences that often lead to different beliefs and different values. Accordingly, different generations communicate and want to be communicated to differently. Gen Y and Gen Z are no exception to this rule. Though, they are both different in many ways, they share many important similarities that should not be ignored by companies who want their attention.

So, if you’re marketing to one of these younger audiences you should keep a few things in mind.


First, You Must Understand What They Mean.

Communicating clearly, succinctly, and in the style that best works with your audience has never been more important than it is now. Whether communicating in blog form, on social media, or through writing on your website – the wording you use matters. Younger audiences interpret words and phrases online quite differently than you might.

Certain words have evolved or mean something completely opposite of what they used to mean! “That’s sick!” can mean that’s disgusting and terrible in one context, but it can also mean, “that’s amazing!” in another, to a younger audience.

Additionally, the word “literally” means something completely opposite to its original meaning. Gen Z will say they, “literally can’t stand spinach.” The word means that you are not exaggerating at all, but the younger generation commonly uses it to mean extreme exaggeration.

This phenomenon has been taking place for a long time. To illustrate, generations preceding the baby boomers took the word “awful” to mean “generally good, impressive things”. “Awful things” were in fact, “worthy of awe”. This is where expressions such as, “the awful majesty of God” come from. The difference is that today, with the speed of the internet, words, phrases and cultural memes are morphing new meaning at a far accelerated pace, and it requires a lot more work to keep up.


They Will Only be Interested in Your Content if it is Great.

You’re in a competition with the rest of the content online. Because of the endless options of content to consume, your advertising content has to be as good as or better than the content (paid and unpaid) they find and are exposed to around the rest of the internet. Otherwise, they’ll easily and instantly tune out, clicking the “X” button.


They Want Information Quickly.

They have no patience for longer, time-consuming content. To be clear, when I say “time-consuming content”, I’m not talking about an hour or two, I’m talking about often a video that lasts more than 20 seconds, or a couple of paragraphs of text. They prefer to socialize, inform themselves, and entertain themselves in short bursts, in part because they have so many other great pieces of content competing for their attention.


They Like Images and Short Videos.

Consuming, sharing, and even creating content is easier than ever before and the younger generations are doing it more than ever before. Vine, Snapchat, and now Instagram are places where short video and/or images can be shared.

Instagram has recently launched the ability to advertise short 15-second videos to respond to this audience’s need for short video content. Many of the brands who have tried it have experienced great success on Instagram.


In Summary

Even if these younger generations aren’t your target audiences, understanding them can lead to major insights about the future of all older target markets.

The actions of younger generation cause a spill-over effect to older generations. Inevitably, the younger generations begin to shape everyone else’s consumption of media by affecting technologies and trends that are (and will be) formed. Older generations will play catch-up much like as was the case with Facebook: popular with college student by 2007-2008 but only widely adopted by older generations in 2010 and later. (Most recently, my 87 year old grandmother created a Facebook account and is on it everyday: responding to comments and sharing posts, pictures, articles, and even memes!)

National Associations: 3 Ways to Engage Your Members

As the staff of any national association knows, it is important to keep members informed, motivated and remind them of the importance/relevance of the association they belong to. Engaged members are members who care. Importantly, this engagement can also support your organization’s continued relevance and value to its members.

Though many members of associations automatically become members by default, meaning they don’t need to be persuaded to join or to remain members, associations should nevertheless strive to continuously prove their value to members. All members should feel like the association they are a part of is invested in them and that they matter. Further, it is important to provide members, new and old, with easy ways to relate to your association and find their place within it. Read on for three ways to engage members with their association.



1)   Use Social Media to Create an Engaged Community

The power of simple, instant communication afforded by social media to bring people together is incredibly impressive. A key strength of social media is that it enables the creation of communities  united by a commonality, in this case, a shared membership to an association. Your national association should see social media as an opportunity to create a community of engaged members.

Maintaining your social media accounts, with the help of a sound strategy, of course, will also aid your federation in appearing (and being) more relevant and approachable.

Once you’ve (a) made your social media accounts easy to find and (b) maintained activity on these accounts, you open the door for members to engage with you directly in an easy and convenient manner. Make sure to respond in a timely manner to show members that their national association values their input and cares about their needs.


2) Produce Visual Content to Engage

Large associations can seem complex to outsiders — even to their own members!

Infographics are able to both clarify and disseminate sometimes complex information while engaging the reader. They do this by delivering valuable information such as statistics and facts in an organized, efficient, and visually engaging way. Breaking down the association’s key functions or highlighting achievements (for example), into simple, well-branded visuals can effectively present how the organization works and benefits its membership. Done properly, infographics have the remarkable ability to make potentially confusing or bland information nearly painless and even enjoyable to consume!

The advantages of infographics for national associations are clear: from highlighting membership benefits to sharing important news or history.

Unlike a blog article (which has its own list of virtues), infographics are more immediately immersive. A well-designed visual arrangement of information will immediately create an appealing environment for the reader and requires less of a mental investment than multiple paragraphs of words on a page.

There is a reason infographics have been trending for a long time: they are easy to share on social media. People like them because they are seen as low-effort/high-pay-off pieces to both consume and share. For that reason they are also a great way to extend your message to places it hasn’t been before. Strong brand awareness for any national association is an on-going concern.


3) De-clutter Your Website for More Engagement

Try visiting (nearly) any national association’s homepage — choose one you have never visited before. How do you feel? A little overwhelmed?

If you don’t know exactly where to look and what you want, you’ll find that navigating many association websites can be overwhelming. There is often so much depth and breadth of information in such a compact space, that it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. Imagine how someone must feel who knows little about your organization. Pairing things down and organizing information in a clean and logical fashion makes good sense.(Not everything needs to be immediately accessible from your homepage.).



By using social media to nurture a stronger sense of community, infographics to communicate important information clearly and appealingly, and an easy to use and informative website, you will be more successful at engaging your members than ever before.