Millennial Engagement: Lessons from a Successful Video Contest

Associations are constantly trying new tactics to engage the youngest generations entering the workforce. The Institute of Management Accountants did so with a successful video contest, which also boosted its Facebook reach by 500,000 individuals in February.

Through a social media-based video contest targeted at millennials, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) introduced thousands of individuals to the organization and its credential—and picked up some tips for engaging students and young professionals.

The contest theme, “You’ve Got to Earn It,” showcased the importance of earning the Certified Management Accountant credential. Individuals and teams were asked to submit short videos that showed the benefits of being a CMA.

Not only were millennials exploring why they would want to earn the title in these videos, but they were also sharing information about the CMA with their peers.

“We wanted to adapt to the way millennials consume media, so we leveraged the power of word-of-mouth marketing and third-party credibility in getting these individuals who made these videos and their take on what the CMA means to them to talk to their peers about the program,” said IMA Vice President of Integrated Marketing Ellen Gurevich.

When the submission deadline passed, IMA had received 33 submissions. The videos, which had to be less than two minutes, were narrowed down to a top four, and then posted on Facebook for public voting. During voting in February, IMA’s Facebook page reached 500,000 more people than in the previous month and gained 600 new U.S. followers as contestants shared their videos and IMA’s page with their communities. First place winners received prize money, a CMA prep scholarship, and travel arrangements to IMA’s annual meeting.

Gurevich said it’s necessary to reach millennials where they’re at, namely online, and to engage them by giving them a voice and room for creativity. “What we learned is that we really should adapt to the channels and media they use and give them the chance to express themselves in their own way,” she said.

The challenge always is moving an audience from attention to action. Marketing and Social Media Manager Morgan Greenleaf said a key consideration in making this jump is timing. After watching IMA’s commercial during the closing session of its Student Leadership Conference, attendees—who had just spent several days deeply engaged with and getting excited about IMA—were invited to make their own videos for the contest.

IMA also leveraged members of its own community—like councils, chapters, and accounting academics—to reach millennials. For example, the winning group, a student team from the Philippines, was encouraged to participate by their CMA-holding professor. The ultimate goal was to rely on those third-party validators, allowing IMA members and prospects, rather than the organization, to communicate with each other and the public about the benefits of the CMA.

To continue the contest’s momentum, the top four videos will be featured on IMA’s website and uploaded to its YouTube channel, and honorable mention videos will be shared on social media. In addition, in the future, IMA may use social media sites popular outside the U.S. and specifically target accounting students.

“The CMA is very relevant for young professionals. The profession is growing, and millennials are replacing those baby boomers that are aging out,” Gurevich said. “[CMAs] have the strategic and decision-making expertise to really fill that gap that’s valued by employers, and it makes the millennial feel very confident as they’re entering the workforce.”

The grand prize winner of the Certified Management Accountant video contest. (Facebook screenshot)

Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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