Associations attracting and engaging young members

Has it ever crossed your mind that GenZers make up the latest wave of young professionals entering the workforce?


With this young, tech savvy, and value-conscious generation, the new priority to tap into their audience is challenging marketing professionals to evolve rapidly. 

Table of Contents

Who is Gen Z?

Generation Z covers anyone who was born between 1995 to the mid 2000s, making up around 20% of the Australian population and 32% of the global population. While today Gen Z comprise 15% of Australia’s workforce, within a decade they will comprise a third, a McCrindle Research report found.

Although the issues of an ageing population and a new attitude to work have been emerging for some time, for many associations it has been a sudden awakening. Dealing with these demographic changes and specifically, how to recruit, retain, and engage with Gen Z, have become one of the biggest issues facing employers today.

In this article, we’re diving deep into why it’s so important to attract and keep young members. We’ll discuss how well Gen Z understands the role and benefits of associations, and show you how your association can adjust its communications to best engage young members.

Here’s everything you need to know about marketing to Gen Z.

So, why is it so important to focus on young members?

There are many reasons why you may want to start closely working with Gen Z, but here we’d like to highlight the three major factors to consider.


If you make the effort now to prepare for Gen Z as they steadily arrive in the workforce, you’ll find it to be easier when they become the dominant generational force in the modern workplace. Now is the time to start engaging with young members through committees, young professional networks, and social media to make it possible for them to share their voice.


Remember, Gen Z’s can bring youthful idealism and energy, a fresh view to the industry, and better connection with Gen Z customers — all of which can add significant value to your business.


What do young members know about associations?

To answer this question, MemberBoat, in partnership with Student Edge, ran a survey of over 600 students to ask how aware they are about associations and their services. 

We were surprised to discover that 56% of young people haven’t heard anything about the concept of ‘Professional Associations’. And this lack of knowledge about Professional Associations stands as the biggest barrier in attracting young people.

However, the majority of young people who are aware of the concept see the importance of associations. They believe that associations can help them network, assist their ongoing professional development, grow their careers, and add credibility to their resumes.

To download the full study, please click here.

6 Tips on How to Attract and Retain Young Members

So, how do we attract and, most importantly, retain young members? Below is a list of our key tips.


1. Identify Gen Z needs in your industry

Don’t fall into the trap of assumptions and think that you know what young people need. 


Take the time to identify the link or gaps between your association offering and Gen Z values and needs. You can do this by undertaking a comprehensive market research or simply by reaching out to your current network of students and young professionals. 


Reach out to them and ask: What do they need? What are they struggling with? What are their main challenges? How do they want to be involved?


2. Sharpen your message

Once you’ve found their main challenges, sharpen your offerings and messages to address those challenges. Focus your communications on what’s important to young people, what resonates with them, and only send them information that is relevant. 


3. Revise your content

You need to adjust your content in order to better attract and retain this emerging generation. Check if the information on your website, social media, and promotional materials is relevant, engaging and useful for young people.


Do you need to create a special section on your website targeting young people? Do they need a special space on your social media? 


Also consider adjusting your voice. Remember, “visual” is the first language of the young generation, so add as many infographics and videos as you can. Make your content snappy, short and easy to follow – this way you can ensure better engagement.


4. Start building a pipeline of future members

Use the content you’ve created to build relationships with your young members.


Employ landing pages, lead magnets, or a simple invitation to subscribe to your newsletter to collect their emails because, at the end of the day, emails still outrank social media as their preferred method of communication. 

But most importantly, don’t be tempted to add these young people to your general newsletter list. Only 29% of organisations address their members’ age and only 48% address their career stages when communicating. 


Segment your audience for the appropriate age group and/or career stage, and only send your young members information that is relevant, useful and interesting for them.

5. Let them be involved

Make sure your young members have a place to hang out, have a voice and can make a tangible impact.


Actively look to them for job assistance or train them to make them stand apart in a sea of applications. You could also include them in your board, establish a youth committee, offer educational programs or initiate conference workshops.


Gen Z are looking for social aspects such as opportunities for collaboration, social events, and co-working spaces. They’re looking for a place to belong. McCrindle Research’s study found that, for 63% of Gen Z’s, the organisational culture and values alignment matters more to them than the conditions, earning and salary package.


So, associations that embrace Gen Z and ensure their engagement will most likely retain them as members.


6. You don’t have to do it yourself!

Don’t be overwhelmed – you don’t have to create all the content by yourself! Use existing partnerships and build relationships with other players on the market.

Here are some ideas on who you can partner with:

  • Create partnerships with universities and industry recruitment agencies to find what content they have to share
  • See what corporate member organisations have internships available
  • Involve individual members in mentorship opportunities
  • Invite young members to create the content that is relevant to them.

And to conclude… We’re often asked...

Should we be on Snapchat or TikTok and speak their language?


As a professional association, you don’t need to try and be like young people to engage them. If you try to speak teenagers’ slang, you’ll quickly see how they cringe. So neither do you have to be on teenage-favourite channels like TikTok and Snapchat! However, these platforms can be a pathway to reach out to young people and build awareness about your brand.


If you’re considering opening an account on TikTok or Snapchat, consider below the “basics” that need to be covered before you launch your association on these channels:

When joining social media for the younger generation, remember to first research what is already available online. You can start by searching the hashtag #LearnOnTikTok, which includes a range of educational videos from countless institutions, public figures, and experts. This will give you an idea of the relevant content and style your company may need to adjust to.

By executing your digital marketing strategy in response to Gen Z and their needs, you have the opportunity to engage a motivated group of young people who may be loyal members to your association for life.


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