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Talent Development

Associations And Social Media: Join In, Let Go Of Control

If your association isn’t communicating via social media, you’re missing out. Social media is a trend of the past; by now, your competition is already using it. You need to catch up.

If your association isn’t communicating via social media, you’re missing out. Social media is a trend of the past; by now, your competition is already using it. You need to catch up.

What’s keeping you from social media? Is it fear of losing control? The time for association leaders to face fears about loss of control in social media was years ago.

Have you seen Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb?  It’s a dark comedy  revolving around a group of men obsessed with gaining control of a dangerous situation. But they don’t have control. And neither do you.

YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT ALL

Your association needs to learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.

In Dr. Strangelove, the nuclear holocaust could be easily averted, but lines of communication have been shut down. Be sure your lines of communication are open. That means you can be reached day and night on social media.

The NRA recently took flak for shutting down their social media lines of communication after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. It’s one thing to be quiet, but quite another to be completely unavailable.

Perhaps you haven’t opened yourself up on social media because you are afraid of what people will say publicly. But people are talking about your association, whether you know about it or not. The conversation is happening.

Approximately 66% of online adults are using social media. If you aren’t there, you can’t be part of the conversation. You need to be part of the conversation, otherwise you’ll not only lack any control, you’re also cut off from useful insight. Your association might be destroyed before you even realize a nuclear holocaust is on the way.

If your association accepts and embraces lack of control over social media conversation, you actually stand to benefit.

THE BENEFITS OF LETTING GO OF CONTROL

Insight

Maybe your association doesn’t know what the conversation online should be about. Social media can help. You can engage your members and the community to find out what they are talking about. If it’s not what you’re talking about, you need to know so you can change your strategy to address real concerns. Even if you are only using your social media as a listening post, you’ll be better able to understand the latest trends and attitudes. This keeps your association timely and relevant.

Young members

Your young members and potential members are looking for you on social media. If you aren’t there, tech savvy Gen Y will not take you seriously. Your new generation of members value online research and social media when it comes to making informed decisions. Social media marketing works on Millennials; 67% go to social networking sites to get information about news or products, your association offers both. Make sure potential members can find you.

Competition

And of course, your competition is on social media. Embracing them there is a great way to learn from them, what their struggles are and how to avoid them yourself. You might even pick up on what works well and implement similar strategies for your association. More importantly, they are having real meaningful interaction with your potential members. Don’t let them be the only ones.

Perhaps you have been viewing social media as some sort of doomsday machine , but that’s just not accurate. For every mistake made, there are good lessons to be learned , and those mistakes don’t need to be yours. Associations need to learn to stop worrying and love social media. It will make you more real to your members.

Now, for the sake of your association and your way of life, I suggest you get some conversation started on social media.

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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