Attracting young professionals is one of the top priorities of both associations and the professions they represent. The active engagement and participation of younger members keeps organizations vibrant, and signals that industries are continuing to evolve, expand and advance.
A content strategy that’s tailored—at least in part—toward this demographic is only one piece of what’s needed for associations to attract, recruit and retain young professionals, but it’s a critical component. The more your organization produces content that is vital to the career development, continuing education and professional enlightenment of the industry’s up-and-coming, the more likely those people are to become and remain members who engage with and develop career-long loyalties to your association.
Here are three ways to make your content matter to the next generation:
- Be unique. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: Content that’s available anywhere is unlikely to engage young professionals. If it doesn’t feel custom-tailored to them, it’s probably not going to resonate. Use content for the obvious—to convey breaking news and track industry trends that inform, for example—but also for the not so obvious: Produce a series of videos featuring established industry luminaries talking about the unconventional twists and turns their careers took, and how they navigated through those experiences. That’s an example of useful, timely content that can help educate young professionals and give them valuable, forward-looking insight in the development of their own careers.
- Be open. There’s no doubt that access to relevant, timely content about an industry can be an important benefit to association membership. But younger professionals are used to getting content from every direction—and they’re not accustomed to logging in to consume it. Effective industry content can pay associations back in other ways beyond providing a member benefit: It can help establish associations and their members (including the younger ones) as thought leaders. The right content strategy can provide a platform for showcasing what members know—which, in most cases, is extensive. And content can engage prospective younger members—particularly if it’s packaged and delivered in unique and compelling ways that align with their habits. So avoid the temptation to gate all content for members only, as doing so typically limits the impact that content can have. Here are four more reasons to consider opening up your content.
- Be flexible. Most associations aren’t known for being nimble—for instituting change quickly or adapting their approaches easily. But perhaps the urgent need to attract younger members with content offers an ideal opportunity to test that tack—and along with it, your organization’s ability to be agile. Try generating similar content in varied, complementary formats (written, video, audio, graphical) and try it out with different segments of your audience to see what hooks them. Promote it on social media channels where the younger generations roam, using cutting-edge copy (or even paid ad campaigns) to catch their attention. Make sure everything you put out there is optimized for mobile consumption. Tell stories that engage, keep their attention, and give them reasons to keep reading—and if those stories don’t work, spin them in different ways and try again. Produce content that demonstrates that your organization offers young professionals the opportunity to have new experiences, advance their careers and learn new things.
There’s no guaranteed formula for engaging young professionals with content. It’s about testing, experimenting, listening, observing and adapting to demonstrate the value of your organization to a younger generation of professionals.