Generation Z is the next generation to enter the workforce. They are large. They are socially active. And they are very interested in training and professional development opportunities that will provide job stability and advancement. In other words, they are a natural fit for associations—if you can reach them.
Traditional channels such as your website and email are not as effective to reach Gen Z. Instead, you need to have a presence on the channels they use most: YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Gen Z’s Changing Social Media Preferences
It should be little surprise that, as the first mobile-native generation, Gen Z spends a lot of time online. But where they spend it is changing, compared to their predecessors.
According to a survey by Morning Consult, over half of Gen Z spends 4+ hours on social media daily. While many associations are focused on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Gen Z prefers to surf content on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
Social Media as a Source of Education and Activism
What type of content does Gen Z view on social media? Sure, entertainment is huge. But so is education. According to a survey by Think with Google, 80% of respondents said that YouTube helped them become more knowledgeable about something. 68% said that YouTube helped them improve or gain skills.
Additionally, data from The Harris Poll Thought Leadership Practice shows that 63% of Gen Z regularly turns to TikTok to learn something.
Gen Z is also extremely socially active, with 70% self-reporting as involved in a social or political cause, according to Edelman’s Gen Z Lab—activism that is often fueled by their social media communities.
Move Over Google – Gen Z Prefers a Different Search Engine
Once upon a time, associations were the primary source of industry information, training, and other resources. Today, that’s no longer the case. Nearly every industry is flooded with webinars, conferences, courses, and other resources being offered by alternate organizations. And some of these resources are free. As this article by Associations Now points out, “We found that they often source information, training, mentoring, and peer connections through channels outside of associations.”
As an association who offers both educational content and the opportunity to get involved with mission-driven work, it’s important to make sure your content can be easily found online when a prospective member is looking for it. Historically, this meant optimizing that content for search engines like Google and Bing. But if you’re looking to reach Gen Z, it won’t be on Google.
According to data published by Google, around 50% of Gen Z users look to other sources like TikTok or Instagram instead of Google for answers. Meanwhile, YouTube has become the second most popular search engine overall behind Google. If at least one of these three platforms aren’t part of your current content strategy, you’re probably not reaching young professionals at the scale needed to grow your programs.
Four Ways to Add YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok to Your Social Media Strategy
If you’re not sure where to start with any of these platforms, here are four ideas you can use for inspiration.
1. Grow training programs through micro-learning topics
If you offer training courses, provide a teaser of the content as short, helpful, or how-to videos, with a link to sign-up for the course as your call-to-action.
2. Promote membership by showing your mission in action
Provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of your organization’s work. Help viewers connect the dots on how their involvement as a member can contribute to the cause or mission. Highlight authentic stories from current members on what membership has done for them.
3. Increase conference attendance through highlight reels and exclusive clips
Show prospective Gen Z attendees just what they can expect from your conference by offering exclusive, behind-the-scenes video clips, interviews with speakers, and other key conference moments.
4. Give them a voice in the content
With any of these ideas, find ways to include Gen Z’s voice and perspective into your content. If you have Gen Z members or staff, have them create “day in the life” videos or recruit Gen Z volunteers to provide “backstage” access to your conferences. If your organization’s structure includes student chapters, recruit volunteers from the chapter to attend an event and create and post content.
Start Small, Test, and Optimize
If your organization is not actively using YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok as part of your content marketing efforts, now is the perfect time to start. But remember, consistency is key. You’ll want to make sure you have the time and resources to invest in both creating content on a regular basis and responding to comments and interactions in a timely fashion. This may mean focusing on just one channel to start, testing, and optimizing your approach before expanding to other platforms.
Speaking of optimization, as you start using each platform, here are some tips to make the most of your efforts so your content is as successful as possible:
1. Be authentic
Look to the latest trends and popular content as inspiration, but whatever you do, make sure you stay true to your association’s brand and voice.
2. Optimize your profile
Incorporate a high-quality profile picture that is consistent with your other channels (website, etc.); use the bio to describe your association and what you offer, including a link to your website or landing page
3. Use hashtags and keywords
Hashtags are an important piece of content optimization—especially on Instagram and TikTok— because they categorize your content, connecting it to a specific topic, event, or conversation. This helps to expand your audience and get more reach. You can use tools like Hashtagify or All Hashtag for a list of trending tags in your industry. And with YouTube being the 2nd most popular search engine, you’ll want to use relevant keywords in your video title, description, and tags to make your videos discoverable across the web.
4. Include a clear call to action
What do you want viewers to do after viewing your content? Comment or provide suggestions? Or visit a web page or sign up for a program? Your call to action may change based on the content and the platform.
If your association is looking at ways to attract more young professionals as attendees, members, and program participants, expanding your social media strategy should be a priority. As a mission-driven organization, you already have a compelling story to tell. Now is the time to tell that story on the platforms Gen Z uses most.
Looking for more on this topic? Watch this recorded one-hour discussion: Looking to Engage Gen Z? Harness the Power of Video on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.