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Decoding Millennials

By Caitlin Hyatt, Account Executive

Millennial is a term referring to the generation born from 1980 onward, brought up using digital technology and mass media.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely been bombarded with messaging on how important this demographic is.  TBH, it’s tough to do this when you can’t even decipher their vernacular, sorry, not sorry.

The following is a list of perf tactics that can help you market to this demographic that is on fleek:

Y: You need to reach them where they are most active – social media. This doesn’t mean you have to have a presence on every channel, just find the one that works for your association.  Have an event coming up?  Why not create a filter on SnapChat available to the geolocation around the meeting.  This will allow attendees to take pictures and share them with their friends and colleagues who may not be members of your association.  Is SnapChat too “out there” for your group?  Creating a Facebook page is simple and can be a great way to market your association.  You can market upcoming events, ask engaging questions and add valuable industry-relevant content.  LinkedIn can also be a great resource, and can serve as another conduit for posting valuable information, or even cross-posting a job listing that was posted to your job board.  Find what works for you and go with it!

O: Onboarding is key.  If a millennial comes to an event, be sure they feel welcomed.  This goes beyond introducing them to key contacts in the organization.  Try creating a mentorship program, where the individual is matched up with someone who is more involved in the association.  They can help guide them with their involvement in the association, and professionally.  The idea is to give them a sense of belonging, and inevitably they will attend more meetings and renew their membership year after year.  The goal is to one day turn that new member into a future mentor.

L: Live and Learn isn’t just a saying.  Learning is one of a millennial’s top priorities.  If you’re not offering any continuing education, you need to be.  Your educational programs need to be relevant to growing the millennial’s skill set.  If it can’t further their professional development, they aren’t going to waste their time.  The key with millennials is proving that your association has value and that they’ll be missing out if they don’t participate.  Find a way to offer easy-to-access educational content and market the heck out of it.

O: Offer fun and interactive meetings.  Millennials are all about experiences.  Many association meetings are structured events with standard receptions in the evenings and education during the day.  Consider incorporating a fun outing during your annual conference. Or add supplemental small networking events throughout the year at a baseball game, brewery, or other social venue.  Another idea is to add a mobile app to your meeting.  There are a lot of different companies out there that produce fairly robust mobile app products at reasonable prices (some are even free).  Additionally, some apps have a social interaction feature, which allows users to post/comment/like in a social activity feed.  Each “action” earns that person a point, and leads to gamification of the event – which, millennials absolutely adore.

We know that the struggle is real, but hopefully these examples give you a glimmer of hope.  Because, regardless of our age, we all have FOMO, and we don’t want this valuable demographic saying “I literally can’t even,” when they think about joining your association.

Millennial terminology decoder

TBH: To be honest.

Sorry, not sorry: A fake apology.

Perf: Shortened form of the word perfect.

On fleek: on point, perfectly executed.

YOLO: You only live once.

The struggle is real: There is a tough problem or potential hardship.

FOMO: Fear of missing out.

I literally can’t even: a phrase used to relay a sense of annoyance and loss of patience.


Caitlin has been with ASG for 5 years. She is currently the Executive Director for the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) and the Direct Gardening Association (DGA), and also the business manager for the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS).  Caitlin has a degree from the University of Georgia in Marketing. She loves running, Mellow Mushroom pizza, and spending time with her family.