Book a Speaker
Grow Membership
Reduce Turnover
XYZ University YouTube Page LogoXYZ University Instagram Page LogoXYZ University LinkedIn Page LogoXYZ University Twitter Page LogoXYZ University Facebook Page LogoXYZ University Vimeo LogoXYZ University RSS Feed Logo
Generation Y

Gen Y And Associations: The Perfect Twitter Match

You’ve heard of Twitter. You may even use Twitter. But do you know how effective Twitter can be in engaging with a specific audience? I’m not writing this post to give you stats and industry trends. I’m writing this post to give you actionable steps to engage Gen Y using Twitter. Interested? Read on!

You’ve heard of Twitter. You may even use Twitter. But do you know how effective Twitter can be in engaging with a specific audience? I’m not writing this post to give you stats and industry trends. I’m writing this post to give you actionable steps to engage Gen Y using Twitter. Interested? Read on!

You are not a celebrity!

One of the unique aspects of Twitter vs. other social networks is you can follow whomever you want without their permission. And that’s the fundamental key to building an audience on Twitter – you must follow other people first. Oh sure, you may think that the content you post is incredibly compelling and everyone that sees it will share it, and you’ll be exposed to thousands of Twitter users that are just dying to connect with you, but rarely does content alone build a relevant Twitter audience – unless you’re a celebrity.

Audience matters

That leads us to the second point – quality over quantity. It’s actually a very simple concept that unfortunately gets lost with social media. So many people compete to have the most friends or followers regardless of who (or where) they are. What matters most for organizations is having followers that are interested in your content and can take the relevant actions you want them to take.

Follow these steps and your audience will grow

You want to engage and gain Gen Y followers, here’s how:

Step 1Build your Twitter profile. Make sure you use a good photo, write a compelling bio and link to your website. You can even customize your Twitter background.

Step 2Post some content. When people look at your Twitter profile, make sure they see you’re active and are posting content. Feel free to post all types of content: events, offers, awards, new hires, community involvement, etc. What matters most is being authentic!

Step 3Build your audience. We want to focus in on Gen Y. Since Twitter doesn’t track age we’ll have to get creative. Ask yourself this question, “What types of Twitter profiles would Gen Y follow?” Think about musicians, brands, Gen Y bloggers, etc. Once you find a Twitter profile you believe has Gen Y followers, click into it and look at the followers. Their picture, location and bio will tell you a lot about them and whether you want to follow them. Remember you need to follow them first and hope they follow you back. I would recommend you not follow more than 100 more people than are following you. It’s very important to keep your Twitter ratio of followers/following close to 1:1.

Step 4Audience Pruning. Ok, you’ve followed 100 new Gen Y’ers…now what? Let a couple days pass and you’ll see who has followed you back. Anyone that hasn’t followed you back you should unfollow. Again, you want to keep your follower/following ratio close to 1:1.  Once you’ve unfollowed those that didn’t follow you, find 100 more users to follow.

Step 5Audience Growth. This action of following and unfollowing is how you grow your audience. Of course continue to post compelling content and hopefully that will also get you new followers.

Make life easier with Twitter tools

Here is a short list of tools that will help you in your audience building efforts.

  • Wefollow – follow people through popular tags
  • Twello – user directory with location
  • SMBtweet – audience building software (happy to provide free trial, simply contact me)

Well, there you have it…not glamorous, but effective. Your Twitter audience will grow by using the method above and while it does take some time, it’s well worth the effort when you’re engaging with Gen Y’ers that can sustain and positively impact your association for the foreseeable future.

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.

Take the first step towards your future.

Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?