Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
How Young Professionals View Social Media
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
This is Part Three of the “Musings from a Millennial” series. View Part One and Two.
We all know, or at least have heard of, social media and its terminology. Even boomers and older Gen Xers have dabbled in social media a bit. (FYI, it’s called Facebook, not The Facebook.) Social media is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean jumping on the latest TikTok dance trend or going on a random follow spree is right for your association or audience.
Young professionals utilize social media in a variety of ways. Now more than ever, the lines are blurred between personal and professional social media use. Furthermore, since young professionals have grown up with social media, we’ve learned what platforms and trends we like and don’t like, and have developed social media preferences and patterns. With that in mind, the following is a list of social media terms with insight into how young professionals are viewing, utilizing, and interacting with social media, and how your association can alter its social media game to attract the young professional demographics.
Facebook. Facebook is a social media platform that connects people with businesses, friends, and family. Depending on the age of a young professional, Facebook usage varies. Older young professionals — millennials who are 30 and older — will be more likely to interact with your Facebook page and posts whereas younger young professionals — millennials under 30 years old and Gen Zers— may only use this platform a few times a year because Facebook is for “people their parents’ age.” Learn about your audience and post accordingly. The same goes for Facebook Ads.
Follower. Your followers are the people who subscribe to your social account — your audience. This concept goes both ways. As a young professional, it’s cool (yes, really) when an association follows us on social media. On the flip side, it’s cool to see what accounts an association is following. Many times an association follows other industry-specific groups and professionals that young professionals may also want to associate themselves with.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) — A GIF is an animated image. GIFs can be used in many instances, from comedic to celebratory. If your association is looking to change up its social media game, consider utilizing GIFs (where appropriate) to attract younger audiences. It’s always nice to see an association have a personality.
Hashtag. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by “#” and used to categorize a post. (No, millennials don’t say “pound” in this context.) Hashtags can be used for anything, so your association does have some leeway. Use hashtags for industry-specific terms in your posts, branding for your association, and even hashtag trends like #followfriday or #motivationmonday. Many social platforms have feeds dedicated to individual hashtags that users can scroll through and discover your account — which can lead to more #followers.
Instagram. Instagram is a picture-sharing social platform. Pictures (and now videos) permanently stay on your association’s personal feed and can be accessed at any point in time. Instagram is geared towards younger millennials and Gen Zers. Professional Instagram accounts can be made so if your association is looking to break the ice with a younger generation or try out a new social platform, consider Instagram. If your association is considering starting an Instagram account but isn’t sure how to run it in a way that is both professional and attractive, consider looking at university Instagram accounts for inspiration.
Likes. The quickest way to interact with your audience is to like their content. As a professional association, what you like will show up on your followers’ feeds as well, so be mindful of what your association is interacting with, especially on LinkedIn. Young professionals are quick to pick up on things new to their social feeds.
LinkedIn — LinkedIn is the professional version of Facebook. Young professionals utilize LinkedIn in a variety of ways, but mostly for job searching, resume and career updates and company/organization/association research. This is where most of us will actively be looking for your association’s page and give you a follow.
Meme. A meme is an image with text. A meme can be a joke, concept, thought, etc., and usually provides a brief moment of comic relief. For 18- to 38-year-olds, memes have become part of our language and many people in this age demographic send memes daily, or at least see a meme on a social feed. If your association is wanting to take a more fun and playful route while still being professional, consider creating a few industry-specific memes. Your younger audience demographics will appreciate the gesture and the memes you do create can be used easily across multiple platforms.
Snapchat. Snaptchat is a social media platform with a time limit for content. While not a professional platform, your association can still utilize Snapchat in a fun and professional way. If your association is holding an event, meeting, training session, or even a continuing education session, consider creating a Snapchat filter and encourage the professionals in attendance to use it. This is essentially free publicity for your association and Snapchat users of all ages may be more inclined to use your filter on their Snapchat story where their entire audience will see your filter.
TikTok. TikTok is the newest social media platform, but strictly related to videos. TikTok is another platform that isn’t considered to be professional, and most young professionals naturally will not follow your association because this platform is an escape from reality. While it may seem like a good idea to professionally join TikTok to relate more to young professionals that fall in the Gen Z category, your association will probably not see the results it hoped for.
Twitter. Twitter is a platform used for social networking and 24/7 updates. Twitter consolidates all content into 280 characters or less. That means your association needs to say what it needs to say (aka tweet) within a limited amount of space. Twitter can be your association’s best friend if quick news or updates need to go out. Many young professionals actively scroll through Twitter and catch up on the latest news, including industry updates.
YouTube. YouTube is a video-sharing platform. While YouTube is not the first place young professionals will go when trying to connect with your association, they may still end up on your YouTube page (if you have one). YouTube is great for housing your association’s videos and then easily embedding them into various social posts, especially those surrounding association events and free continuing education offerings. It’s quick and easy and young professionals will start to see your association’s videos pop up on their personal YouTube feed if they watch a few of your videos. Well-made videos are attractive to professionals of all ages.
Monica Roselli is a content associate at SmithBucklin
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