What about us?! It’s time to rethink your youth community outreach strategy…
By Jasmine Gajeton, Marketing Apprentice, Salesforce.org
Today’s youth is strikingly different to the generations before. We’re empowered, driven by innovation, change, and social impact. In the UK, we’re going through an uncertain time, and we want to be part of that, part of influencing the change that’s to come, and protecting our future – they call us Generation Change.
Although we want to influence change, we need support in doing this – remember, we don’t have the life experience and skills you have, but we do have passion and ideas in droves! Many of us haven’t acted or spoken out yet because we’re not sure how to – are there resources to support us, people to mentor us, enthusiasts to cheer us on? Maybe there are, but many of us don’t know where to find them.
There are many youth organisations out there today, but, at least in my circle, very few youths are engaged with them, in an active way. In my view, youth organisations’ messages are not reaching their target audiences. Why? Because they still have work to do in understanding my generation. If youth organisations could reach more of their audience then our combined impact could be magnified.
During my research for this blog, I spoke to a fellow apprentice at Salesforce.org, Catalina Cardona, who said “The youth is the future. The impact that organisations will have on us, is the impact we will have on them.” This sums up perfectly how critically important it is to nurture and support youth today so they can build a better future tomorrow.
4 Tips to Reach a Youth Audience
1. Make Social Media More than a Tactic
Social media, as I’m sure you’re aware is a pretty important part of young people’s lives. We’re digital natives and some of us (so they say) spend up to 10 hours per day online. We watch YouTube instead of TV, post to Instagram instead of printing photos, and form groups online, rather than on the block. We’re browsing through the lives of the Kardashians on every platform and we’re sharing our views about the latest fashions and events. Why can’t organisations help drive cause related conversations online in the places we hang out so we can get involved in that too? News topics and social issues live on stuffy websites that don’t have a youth voice, why isn’t someone taking this, and packaging it in a way that we WANT to engage with?
Action: create a number of different youth personas to better understand the audience, identify which platforms they are on, what topics they are interested in, and what they care about. Launch a live interactive session as a pilot and see what conversations come out of it.
2. Get Serious About Mobile
It’s no longer mobile first, Generation Z is mobile ONLY. We do everything on mobile, from communicating with peers and family to shopping, learning new skills, and consuming media. Most of our everyday tasks and engagements happen on mobile. If you don’t have a mobile approach – you won’t reach us. Make sure your site is mobile friendly or consider creating a community mobile app – it doesn’t have to contain all the information from your site, just the main content and ways to engage.
Action: there are so many youth coders and designers out there, why not run a competition asking young people to design your mobile experience? Not only will your audience get a platform that is more tailored to their needs, YOU will get much more insight into what’s important for them.
3. Earn Our Trust
As part of my research for this blog, I hosted a workshop with a number of apprentices working at Salesforce.org in London to get their thoughts on the subject of youth engagement. One topic that came out strong was that of trust. In order for us to trust an organisation, you need to talk to us about the issues we care about – in our language and you need to give us a platform to speak about how we feel about these issues and topics. Allowing us participation and giving us freedom of speech is an important way for you to gain our trust.
Action: host workshops to help young people build communications and public speaking skills to help us speak up and share our views on causes and social issues.
4. Help us Build Connections
We care about issues and causes and want to find other people that care about the same things. Sometimes that hard. Helping to facilitate connections can go a long way in getting a movement going. Are you helping to build those connections for young people?
Action: host a speed networking event where young people could get together and make connections around the causes they care about. Facilitate meet-ups for those who want to work on issues together or start a social group to open up discussions around the topics where people can speak freely with those they’ve connected with.
My name is Jasmine Gajeton, I’m a Marketing apprentice at Salesforce.org. This one-year role has given me a great opportunity to enhance my understanding of the world of work and develop my skills. Look out for more blogs for me on Salesforce.org.
Want to learn more?
Join our panel discussion on January 18th at 10 am to hear how four youth-focused organisations are using technology to engage, support and report on impact around youth-based programmes.
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