​By: ​Nell Withers McCauley, CCC

This past year, co-ops have focused on growing digital relationships with members beyond bill payment and outage or crisis communication. As a result, digitally engaged members are more accessible, more engaged, and report higher satisfaction ratings.

Establishing programs that engage young adult members is essential, because according to the U.S. Census, more than half of the U.S. population falls into the millennial generation and younger. So, how are cooperatives adjusting their communications to reach younger audiences?

This group is digitally savvy and expects to be able to communicate through mobile and online.

Digital communication is second nature to this group of members, but they are harder to reach. Unlike older members, they don't read email as readily. To reach them, there must be an effective digital communication plan.

Cooperative communicators have an opportunity to stand out to younger members by embracing tools like social media, video, content marketing and reputation management. Meeting younger audiences where they spend their time will be essential for energy providers to grow these customer relationships.

In 2021, younger audiences want to see digital media that presents a more optimistic depiction of equality, races, religions, and a representation of people with physical and learning disabilities in the content they consume and brands they support.


Just like the digital marketing trend toward inclusivity, people are equally concerned about the planet. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy accounts for most of the new U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2021 and will make 38 percent of the generation mix in 2050. However, as the transition to renewable energy continues, co-ops must address their members learning curve. Most members understand wind, solar, hydroelectric energy concepts but​ misconceptions about the environmental impact and rates exist.

Cooperative communicators can be the source of reliable information about renewable energy sources. In addition, cooperatives can facilitate proper understanding and build trust with their members.

More than ever, members want to be informed about their energy choices. In addition, member relationships can be strengthened by providing information in a comprehensive digital strategy.


In the wake of the pandemic​, energy use is projected to increase by as much as eight percent, based on a projected number of people working from home. With this demand, cooperative communicators should build digital content that can help them explore and understand how to use new technology to control their energy use.

Again, we can be the trusted resource to educate members about smart home technology and guide purchase decisions so they can effectively put these tools to use in their homes.


Digital newsletters have been gaining popularity. Many cooperatives offer the choice of a digital format in place or in addition to a printed version. The popularity of electronic news continues to grow, making e-newsletters another communication tool to build a direct relationship with our members.

Expanding cooperative e-newsletters to segmented audiences have even further potential to grow their reach and build engagement. Engaging your members and learning about their interests will help you create a content strategy. Targeting their specific needs will establish a regular touchpoint with a monthly newsletter to keep your utility top of mind. By acting as a helpful and trusted resource, cooperative communicators can better meet member expectations and build these relationships.


Is your co​ntent interactive? Does your co-op participate in any of the social media channels?

Social media is where you can often find millennials and younger generations. They are usua​lly active in multiple media channels. An important lesson that all can learn is to meet people where they are in life. So, don’t overlook opportunities to engage with younger members on social media. By effectively engaging them, they can leverage their social media connectivity to advocate for your co-op brand.

So, what’s your plan? If you don’t have one, no worries. Check out the YAME resources and find what will work for your co-op.

Have you explored YAME but would like more information? Click to learn more.

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