[Tweet “72% of millennials say they’d increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things next year”]
There is so much information out there to explain HOW to get Millennials to your event and how to increase attendance by creating great hype in the lead up to the event but when it’s crunch time and the moment comes to actually make an impact DURING the event – how do you engage with them to ensure the hype continues well after the event has ended and create a legacy?
Millennials are the generation that enriches the industry with different expectations and experiences. As opposed to Gen X (AKA Baby Boomers) they value happiness, passion, diversity and discovery well over the traditional, more stable, values.
You need to get in there and build the event experience around these values to keep the attendees on their edge and talking ***INSERT FOMO EFFECT HERE!***
Build The Experience
Diversity is key: Study the different segments that make up the overall attendee group and tailor make small – dedicated – “VIP” events within the event itself, and invite them to participate – Show that you took the time to know what they want.
Secure your event’s #tag: According to Social Times, hashtags help event attendees organize their online conversations – about panels, speakers, ideas and opinions – and stay connected virtually long after the event itself has run its course.
Make announcements during the event and keep the hashtag strong so that it goes viral
Use a twitter live feed or tweetwall for “real-time” conversation during and about your events, using your #tag
Ask questions using the #tag to encourage engagement and conversation
Make sure you keep the hashtags relevant, short and memorable!
Create Nostalgia: Studies pioneered by Dr. Constantine Sedikides, beginning in 1999, found that “nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders.” The research further indicates that nostalgia is universal, experienced across all cultures, and actually increases self-esteem and ‘social connectedness,’ which relates to feelings of being loved and protected.
Use Instagram to show people visually what your event is like. Behind the scenes shots and time-lapses work great!
Encourage photo/video sharing with promotions – giveaways
Make all event material exclusive and white – labelled so they hold on to it as a souvenir
Make It Interactive
To engage millennials at your event, a big part of planning the experience lies in keeping their attention. A study by Microsoft revealed that it is no surprise that increased media consumption and digital lifestyles reduce the ability for consumers to focus for extended periods of time.
But, tech-savvy consumers are actually getting better at processing information and encoding that information to memory. Millennials are better at identifying what they want/don’t want to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory.
Be tech ready:
Make sure you provide a good wi-fi connection – Engaging millennials at your event means keeping the conversation open and flowing.
Providing an engaging mobile experience is key! – Be creative with your mobile apps.. When it comes to mobile engagement there is nothing worse than being SPAMMED with a million banner ads and pop ups from your sponsors. Appeal to the “freedom of choice” rebellion in them instead of trying to push content that may not even interest them.
Zoliro is a great example of event tech that throws choice in to the mix. A digital gift bag that is made up of exclusive content that the attendee gets to choose from and build their own bag… This means that event sponsors, exhibitors and other partners that want to reach your attendees will also have to get creative with their offers to ensure they appeal to the audience.
Use visual elements at you event such as photos and videos to keep them engaged
Create experiences that are new and different:– Photo booths
– Live streaming using Meerkat or Periscope (don’t forget to use your #tag here)
– Pop up mini events
– Twitter wall
– Surprise guests
– Multi-sensory booths
– Engaging mobile experience
– Make your swag bag digital
Ensure that attendees are involved in passive listening for no more than 10-15 minutes. Millennials are used to receiving information in small chunks, so break presentations up with an activity that involves active engagement in smaller groups.
When presenting information, think sound bites – Ensure that attendees are involved in passive listening for no more than 10-15 minutes. Millennials are used to receiving information in small chunks, so break presentations up with an activity that involves active engagement in smaller groups.
Incorporate more peer-to-peer interaction into meetings – Consider simulations, group discussions and exercises, and case studies based on real situations and scenarios.
Make It Interactive
Impressing the Millennials doesn’t only lead to sharing but helps your onsite and ongoing engagement increase. By making the experience interactive you create an ambiance which cultivates sharing. Make them a part of the story!
Snap Chat Story: Make an exclusive event Snap Chat story and allow attendees to share snippets of their experience during the event with the rest of the people at the venue.
They create the content: use an app like seenit.io which allows various people to upload videos to the same place and at the end you can put it together in to an event video. Makes them feel like they were a part of the creation (and technically they were).
Keep the momentum going: Make sure you send your guests a thank-you letter with some of the highlights from the event and encourage them to upload their pics using the event #tags. This will also add to the nostalgia effect post event.
Quick Tip: To keep the nostalgia flowing and the FOMO brewing, use the #TBT (Throwback Thursday) phenomenon to literally “throwback” to your event. Re-post some pictures, videos or event retweets from the event, throughout the year to get the hype going for your next event.
Engaging millennials at your event can be a fun and creative process. Instead of waiting for Millennials to fall into the traditional behavioral patterns, get to know their values!
Plan your in-event activities to appeal to what matters to them most and their desire to be first-hand experiences.