Currently in the US, the millennial generation represents nearly one fourth of the population and holds over $220 Billion in annual spending power. Yet the largest and most researched generation has been an enigma for marketers seeking to earn a foothold in the daily lives of these young professionals, and many industries have had to forgo traditional models to understand this up-and-coming audience.
The events industry has already begun to feel the wake of the millennial footprint and many in the industry have begun to adapt to this new audience as well. While the tactics of how to appeal to this generation can run to great length, here are four short tips on how you can begin engaging and growing your millennial audience.
Treat Your Event Hashtag like the New-Age URL
When interacting with millennials through social media, it is critical to consider your event hashtag as the new-age URL and a top source for information. According to a study by RadiumOne, 58% of social media users regularly use a hashtag when publishing on social media and 42% of these users click on hashtags to explore new content. Your event hashtag becomes a channel for users to create conversations about their experiences. When marketing to millennials, the official hashtag should be heavily promoted before the event, as well as prominently displayed on the show floor. Once your hashtag is established, having original and engaging conversation with this young audience is one of the best ways to establish credibility and encourage participation at your event.
Offer Professional Networking Opportunities
Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New rules for Career Success, created a white paper study analyzing how millennials see meetings and events differently. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 61% of millennials believe that they are more valuable today than they were two years ago and feel this way because they are seeking networking and career opportunities more than ever before. Up to this point your programming may be geared toward seasoned professionals. Adding sessions specifically tailored to engage young professionals with businesses creates an immense amount of value for career-hungry millennials, and makes them more likely to attend your event. Also offering incentives such as membership dues and conference fees at a lower rate increases their likelihood to participate.
Authenticity is key in attracting new young members because they don’t want to feel targeted or taken advantage of for short-term gain. They want to feel there are mutual benefits. As you work on your strategy to attract young professionals to either become a member of your association or attend your event, avoid the temptation to sound “cool”. You can be professional in your communication, however make sure your messaging clearly shows your actions align with the needs and wants of millennials. For example, pointing out the benefits of joining your organization or that attending your event can get them started in their career and help them grow as new professionals. Showcase programs, workshops or events that would be beneficial for them to attend.
Make Sure You’re Mobile Ready
According to a 2014 Nielsen report, millennials in the US are the largest segment of smartphone owners. Specifically, 85% of millennials own smartphones and use their mobile devices to read their emails, news, social media posts and more. Optimizing your website and making your communications responsive to mobile devices is an important step towards increasing your engagement with young professionals.
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