August 7, 2014
Communicating with millennials is not the same as communicating with other association members. Millennials come from a new generation that have different expectations, social norms and behaviors than older association members. If you want to be effective when communicating with millennials you’ve got to account for these three surprising differences.
Millennials are open to receiving text messages from your association. In many cases they’re willing to receive text messages over email, meaning if you can catch them while they have their phone on them, their attention is yours. One association I spoke to that caters to young medical professionals is experimenting with sending their members communications via text message. This can be a great way to reach members if they’ve agreed to be reached in that way. Since research has shown that greater than 90% of text messages that are sent are read (as compared this with about a third of that for email), you can see why real time communication is so important, especially for a generation that has grown up with cell phones at the ready. If you can ditch email and give SMS a try you may be able to reach your membership a bit easier.
Another surprising difference between communicating with millennials and other association members is that they tend to get back to you sooner as compared with older association members.
"Millennials tend to get back to you sooner as compared with older association members. Have you noticed that? #associationmanagement”
I spoke with an association that found they had to contact older association members five or six times, using different media, before they could get a definitive response, whereas millennials, on average, were responding the first, second or third time they were contacted. This was especially true when being contacted to renew their membership - millennials consistently responded and renewed twice as fast as non-millennials.
If you want to be an effective leader, you’ve got to solicit feedback from the people you’re serving and incorporate that into your program. Surveys are a popular way to accomplish this, and millennials are willing to give you the feedback you need to succeed. Whether it’s by filling out surveys on Survey Monkey about how your association is doing or responding to questionnaires about what they’re interested in and what they want to hear, millennials are willing to give you their opinion if you are willing to listen. Are you willing to listen to what your younger members have to say?
Communicating with millennials is a bit different than communicating with other association members, but they’re not a total enigma. Pay attention to the above three differences and you should be well on your way to making your mark with the next generation in your association.