Does Your Association Have a #MillennialMindset?

September 27, 2016   |   Vol. 15   |   Issue 9
By Tracy Carlin, MGI Senior Account Executive

Does Your Association Have a #MillennialMindset?

Does your organization have a strategy to target millennials? Engaging young people at the start of their careers has become a huge challenge for many MGI clients—in fact, in our 2016 MGI benchmarking report, several participants suggested “aging membership,&rdquo “reaching millennials,&rdquo and “engaging younger potential members&rdquo keeps them up at night. Nonetheless, young professionals and students are the future of your industry—it’s crucial to capture potential members at the start of their careers and retain them for a life-long and positive relationship.

Of course, you have to find them first.

Millennials are, by their nature, digital natives; a stunning 90% of young adults are on at least one social networking platform, according to a 2015 Pew Research study. Another study from Pew broke the usage down by site, finding that 82% of young adults who use social media are on Facebook, 55% use Instagram, and 32% use Twitter. Other, newer tools such as Snapchat and Yik Yak have tremendous anecdata about their popularity among the youths, but strict numbers on usage and demographics are hard to find. We do know that Yik Yak is on 1,600 college campuses and 45% of Snapchat users are between 18 and 24 years old.

The data is clear—young adults are online, and hungry for content. If this is your association’s first foray into the digital landscape, you can’t go wrong with a Facebook ad campaign.

91% of associations reported having a Facebook page in 2016, according to the MGI benchmarking report. But attracting millennials isn’t just about posting once a week and hoping for the best. Changes to Facebook’s algorithm have stymied the ability for products and groups to get in front of users, making advertising a necessity to create an impact with your target audience. Luckily, Facebook offers a comprehensive set of targeting tools in its “Power Editor,&rdquo meaning affordable and sophisticated marketing is available to users (through, say, MGI’s Online Marketing Department). Here’s a quick primer:

  • Facebook Boosts – Facebook sells advertising “boosts&rdquo or sponsored posts—essentially pushing one post on your feed to a greater audience. MGI does not recommended using this route, as historically they have proven effective at driving impressions, but not action.
  • Facebook Custom Audiences – Got target prospects? Facebook can use certain identifying information to get your ads into their Facebook newsfeed. This allows ads to be served exclusively to those with knowledge of the advertised product, or who might be receiving multiple touch points such as email and direct mail. Match rates, which once hovered at 30%, have increased substantially as Facebook improves its matching process. One MGI client saw match rates between 86-89% for its reinstatement campaigns.
  • Facebook Lookalike Audiences – “Lookalikes&rdquo are a natural extension of Facebook Custom Audiences. Facebook can identify certain attributes within your Custom Audience, and then build an audience of Facebook prospects with similar attributes. The audience can be further honed to exactly what your association is looking for by providing additional information about the ideal prospect, such as job title.
  • Facebook Remarketing – Facebook Remarketing has proven to be extremely effective in serving targets with multiple touch points. By placing a Facebook “pixel&rdquo on the association’s website and landing pages, Facebook can track which of its users are interested in membership and serve them advertisements when the user visits their Facebook account. Because the users have already shown an interest in the advertised product, they are more likely to click through and convert.

As a bonus, Facebook can also serve advertising for your association on Instagram, even if you don’t have an account. Be careful though—as your millennial audience will likely be accessing Instagram through a mobile device, make sure all of your landing pages and join pages are optimized for a mobile experience.

MGI recommends testing several ads against each other and creating multiple target audiences, to see which ads perform the best and the most affordably. Compelling content and strong visuals will get you nowhere if that’s not what your audience wants to see. Don’t know where to start? Contact us—we can help!

If you have any questions about where social media fits into your association’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact Tony Rossell, Sr. Vice President, at, or 703.706.0360.

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