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5 Simple Steps To Engage Members With Video

In January 2011, Newsweek came up with a list American Dying Cities , subtitled “Cities with bleak futures ahead.” Leading off that list at number 10 was Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids native and indie film producer Rob Bliss and his friend raised $40,000 to make a video saying otherwise. The video, seen below, racked up over 1.3 million hits within its first week of being posted.

In January 2011, Newsweek came up with a list American Dying Cities , subtitled “Cities with bleak futures ahead.” Leading off that list at number 10 was Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids native and indie film producer Rob Bliss and his friend raised $40,000 to make a video saying otherwise. The video, seen below, racked up over 1.3 million hits within its first week of being posted.

Now, not all of us have access to $40,000 or the ability to coordinate an entire city for an impressive music video. But, that doesn’t have to stop us from producing videos – even with just our smartphones.


Video allows a personal connection that goes beyond plain text. It shows who you are as an association and can be extremely easy to do. The latest stats prove it: nearly 85% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in April 2012.

Video is just one more tool in your membership marketing tool belt that you can use to engage members no matter their age. We like to be entertained. We like to put a personal face with a name–with an organization. If video is not a part of your current membership marketing plan, you should start thinking about it now. Below are some tips to get started.


Keep it simple

Wistia, a video hosting service, found that 30-second video clips were viewed by 85% of people all the way through while only half stuck around for videos running between two and 10 minutes. Sure, the example above is an exception–it’s much longer than two minutes, but it’s catching and it keeps moving. Viewers keep watching because they want to see what comes next.

Entice your audience and always put your best content first. Or, create content that builds on top of the previous scene. Keep your members entertained and grab their attention with those first 20 seconds before they get distracted or lose interest.

Be human

People want to see the real you so a few “ums” and “ers” won’t make or break your video. Be real. Be you. Show your association’s personality; connect with your members.  Prepare notes, but try to go without them (or without reading word-for-word) on camera. You don’t want your informal video to look stuffy and staged. Relax and have fun with it!

Encourage engagement

No matter why you’re using video to reach your audience–whether it’s announcing a new event or member benefit, introducing staff, or providing industry tips to members–be open to questions or comments. If you post your video or URL on a social media channel, respond to (and ask for) feedback. You’re building community, even online.

Share your work

Unlike Rob Bliss from Grand Rapids, most of us aren’t able to coordinate an entire city in one music video. But, use the tools and people you do have. Use your flipcam, smartphone or camcorder. Interview members, staff, your Board and volunteers. And then share your video on different platforms. Upload your video to a video-sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo. From there, you can easily share the URL with your Facebook and Twitter followers, include a thumbnail of the video in your e-newsletter or embed the content on your association’s website.

Inspire a call to action

Because a video has greater emotional appeal over plain text or pictures, you have a great platform to ask your viewers to do something. When putting together your video notes, make sure you determine your call to action. What is the ultimate goal of your video and what do you want members to do after viewing it? Share it with others to spread the message about your association’s brand? Register for an upcoming event? Enter an awards program you’re hosting. Be strategic about the information you provide and the action you wish to see as a result.


There are plenty of associations using video to engage members and tell their stories. Below are four video examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  1. The YMCA Twin Cities has a great YouTube channel that not only explains who they are (using their own members in videos) but also grabs attention while promoting its day camps and other summer programs.
  2. The Alzheimer’s Association uses video and creative use of text and numbers to provide viewers with stats and information about the disease and how spreading awareness is important.
  3. The Professional Anglers Association uses video on its site to recap events. This video is a catchy recap of the Old Hickory PAA Fishing Tournament. It’s useful to PAA members in that it not only recaps the event but also gives helpful fishing tips that can be useful to tournament participants or PAA members in general.
  4. Associations are also using video to personally welcome new members. The Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce sends videos from its chamber president to new members as a way to say thank you for joining and to give each new member a bit more information about what UVCC is all about.

So what will you do to use video to engage your members?

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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