Lately, everyone’s topic du jour seems to be discussing the best practices of engaging with Millennials. From B2B to B2C companies, the question of, “How do I get this younger generation to interact with my brand, company or event?” is something that senior level management teams are struggling to understand.
Luckily for them (and you), I just so happen to be a millennial, and as such, I’d like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on what my people (calling all 80’s and 90’s babies!) expect when they attend an event.
In order to present an engaging, memorable program for Millennials, you must begin the planning process by stepping into our shoes. Remember the environment in which we were raised: the explosion of technology, the dawn of virtual connectivity, the vast importance of new trends and the competitive atmosphere that has enveloped us since we were young. By understanding who we are, offering us the chance to make authentic experiences, and providing the foundation for us to create impactful connections, you are showing us that we matter as individuals, not as just another attendee. Let’s take a look:
Understand that we cannot, under any circumstance, be without technology. From the moment that dial-up Internet was invented – I know you all remember the AOL connection sound – we haven’t been able to function without it. In an effort to avoid millennial upheaval, remember to consider the following technology-friendly offerings at your event:
- Don’t even think about making your attendee pay for Wi-Fi, and test the bandwidth of your coverage to ensure it can accommodate every attendee without delaying connections.
- Provide ample charging stations.
- Think about handing out battery chargers with your company’s logo at check-in.
- Go Green: Replace tangible registration collateral and swag bags with mobile event apps and electronic giveaways. Load your app or a USB device with promotional discount codes, partner collateral, and event information, and market it as the green choice.
Email marketing is a necessity, but with the average worker receiving 84 emails per day, this is not the most efficient avenue to pursue when spreading your message to millennials. We won’t sift through our inboxes to find your information. We will turn to your social media pages for event updates, industry news, answers to questions, and to establish a connection with your brand before we set foot inside your venue. Promote your event on social media in the following ways:
- Twitter: Don’t stop with a Twitter page for your organization. Remember to have a unique hashtag for each of your events. Friend every person who registers and start a chat with them that includes your hashtag (I.E. So excited that @janedoe is joining us for #BizBash2014!)
- Facebook: Use the same formula as Twitter, and ensure that you are adding images to each post for enhanced engagement.
- LinkedIn: Build a community through groups and post updates daily.
- Engage Us for Additional Exposure: We want to be involved and feel like we matter. If you give us the opportunity to be an active participant with social media we will be more likely to share content and increase your exposure. Ask us questions. Solicit photos. Stoke 0ur excitement.
Prove that you add value to our lives by offering new and exciting opportunities. Think two steps ahead of us at all times to show that you have considered us as individuals, not as cookie-cutter attendees There is so much good practice that this school could share, and I hope many school districts will join us at the celebration ceremony for the chance to network and share strategies with award-winning schools. (after all, we are the generation that brought hipsters to the world…sorry about that). Give us what we want before we know we want it by integrating new innovations and tech trends into your event:
- Bring the Fun Back: Incorporate exciting new companies such as Crowdmics or Catchbox to enhance attendee experience. These innovators are changing the way we project our voices at events by transforming a cell phone into a microphone or allowing attendees to throw a cube-shaped microphone around the room like a hot potato.
- Use Beacon Technology: Give us the real-time information we crave by using this new technology that allows event organizers to send push notifications to attendees as they walk by a certain area at an event. Use of this gives attendees immediate access to knowledge such as the proximity of a vendor or the name of a presentation that is starting around the corner.
Millennial’s love a good challenge. You can blame this on our hyper-packed extracurricular schedules or our love of video gaming (I was a Super Mario cart champ, I’ll have you know), but the fact of the matter is we love rolling up our sleeves for some healthy competition. By incorporating gamification into your event, you will be delivering innovation, tech, and trends in one smart swoop:
- Speakers: Millenials love to learn, and are hungry to gain knowledge from leaders in the industry. Work with your speakers to ensure they each include a small game at some point during their session. Help them facilitate the activity and remember to incorporate technology.
- Networking: Forget cocktail hour and bland receptions. By facilitating icebreakers during sessions, scheduling group activities or offering opportunities for recreational pursuits outside the conference (here’s looking at you, 7 am run club), you are innately providing creative networking opportunities.
- Make Us Move: Instead of a coffee break between sessions, take a page out of the Hyatt Meeting’s book and hire an exercise professional to do a 5 minute ‘Get Up and Move’ class. Icebreakers facilitate interaction with other attendees enhances cognitive function and provides a quick break from the monotony of the schedule.