marketing your association to millennialsYears ago, while interning for a social media marketer, I was taught the value of social media to engage and attract business. Today social media marketing has changed from meme generation, to promoted posts and tweets, image ads, and pay-per-click (PPC)  campaigns on big name social media sites. Yet associations and organizations are slow to capitalize on these advertising venues assuming them to be unprofessional and lacking in their target audiences. So here are the facts, if you’re marketing your association to millennials, make it social.


Facebook has 44 million users between the ages of 25 and 34. This generation of young professionals needs the bridge skills your association provides. College may have gotten them a degree, but not the applied knowledge they need to succeed at their chosen professions. Additionally there are 56 million users between the ages of 35 and 54. A savvy social media marketer might argue that this platform is not only beneficial for reaching the millennial generation but generation x and the baby boomers as well. How do you advertise on this platform? You have a few choices.  First, you can boost a post. Doing so will give the post much greater reach and visibility. For example, spend $20 and you’re likely to get around 2,000 views. This is a great tool if your goal is exposure. Next, you can choose to advertise. As with AdWords campaigns, advertising on Facebook is a pay-per-click (PPC) option in which you’ll use targeting to get your ads on the pages of the right people at the right time. Finally, you can promote your page, like boosting a post, promoting a page will get your Facebook company page seen by more people.


Twitter users are primarily millennials with 95 million users between the ages of 18 and 29 and 54 million users between the ages of 30 and 49. Twitter offers unique advertising opportunities including promoted Tweets and celebrity sponsored Tweets. For thousands of dollars you too can have a famous reality TV personality promote your association, because nothing says professional development like a reality TV personality. Additionally, the use of hashtags allows for branding across the platform. When an advertiser uses a hashtag that is already popular or “trending” their tweet is indexed and shown with every other tweet using that hashtag. This can result in free exposure.


Instagram is a mobile photo sharing app, with 74 million users between the ages of 18 and 29 and 36 million users between the ages of  30 and 49. If your goal is to attract the younger generation, this is where you’ll find them. The key to Instagram is “cool factor.” So, how do you use it? As an association you probably take pictures of your events, certificates, and members. You can post these pictures to Instagram to  show prospective members that your association can provide what they need, in an atmosphere will appeal to them. Instagram is just beginning to allow advertising through sponsored photos or in-stream ads, but this is in its infancy and is not well established.  Like Twitter, Instagram also uses hashtags for additional exposure. Why bother with this mobile app? Because 80% of millennials own a smart phone and they are 20% more interested in photo, social networking, lifestyle, and shopping apps than any other age category.


LinkedIn is often thought of as the B2B social media platform, but as young professionals, millennials are also using LinkedIn to grow their networks and promote themselves online. What better way to reach this demographic than by targeting their professional network? You can bring your educational offerings to their attention on the very platform where they focus on building their careers. LinkedIn has 45 million users between the ages of 18 and 29 and 81 million users between the ages of 30 and 49. The career minded millennial can be found here. Like PPC ads on Google, LinkedIn allows advertisers to create similar ads that can be targeted to specific criteria and pages within LinkedIn.  Like Facebook, you can also boost a post, which shows your advertisement in people’s feed rather than as a traditional PPC ad. You also have the option of premium advertising which gives you access to larger display ads with premium locations on pages, but at premium costs. There are other methods as well, such as paid “in mail” advertising, but these are the basics.


No matter what social media platform you choose, the important thing to remember is that social media is about engagement. You don’t need to advertise on these platforms to reap the rewards of going social, you just need a page or profile. The ability to have conversations with your friends and followers, as well as to curate content that lets prospective members get a glimpse of the association’s mission, goals, and character is what social media is really all about. Social media is an engagement tool, and success is measured not by Return on Investment (ROI), but by Return on Engagement (ROE). What’s not to “like” about that?

Have questions about other social media sites? Let us know and we’ll cover them in a future blog post.

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