If you are an older event planner, you might think the young people of today, the millennials, teenagers, youths, whatever you like to call them, are an alien species. They talk, behave, dress and interact in entirely different ways. It is easy to fall into the ‘uncool’ camp with this opinionated bunch.
But you don’t have to fret. While you may not understand the way younger event attendees truly think, you can keep to the following do’s and don’ts when engaging younger crowds at your events, to avoid major embarrassment, be it youth camps, youth conventions, music events, church camps or sports events
1. Know your social media
Social media lingo and the invisible rules of the digital space are just some things you have to quickly pick up to communicate effectively with youths today.
This includes the use of hashtags and social linguistics targeted specifically at younger event attendees so that you can effectively reach out to them. For this, it may be wise to consult an actual youth when managing your social media accounts.
Social media provides a platform for people to advertise what they like in a much more natural way, and the youths are making full use of that, sharing what they think and how they feel to everyone in their networks. When leveraged properly, younger event attendees can be a powerful marketing force. They can send your hashtag straight to what’s trending, and might even cause your posts to go viral. They are the gateways to the entire Internet community.
2. Don’t dumb down
Noone likes being spoken down to, and young people are no exception. In fact, you will be surprised at the level of maturity and the amount of experiences young people have today. Make sure to pitch the event at the right level to your target audience by learning about what they know and understand already.
More importantly, make sure your young audience is being heard. Place them first when designing marketing strategies. Make them central to the event.
3. Glide don’t grind (a.k.a. don’t seem like you’re trying too hard)
Event planners must plan events like swans on a lake, paddling furiously beneath the waters to move ahead, but looking calm and classy above water.
Today’s young people have seen some really crazy things through their smartphones. Therefore, extravagant displays and outrageous acts at events may not impress them. In fact, it may make your young attendees think that you are trying too hard.
This is tough advice to follow because you are going to have to try harder to not look like you are trying too hard. But that’s what millennials like to do, torture the older generations.
4. Harness traditional media
Word of mouth, official news publications, magazines, radios and TVs are still being perused by millennials. The youths still value hearing about an event from their friends and seeing posters about it on their school campus. Live roadshows and pre-events are also great ways to reach out to young people, who despite living part of their lives online, still value the power of meeting people face-to-face.
5. Optimise for every device
Smartphones, tablets and computers. Yes, your event should be present on all three and optimised. More people are buying tickets on their mobiles and tablets and a poorly optimised user interface can cause ticket buyers to give up before paying.
6. Don’t be boring
Everyone likes to have fun. But young people need to have fun. It is your duty as event planner to understand what your target audience’s definition of fun is.
Make sure not to take the event too seriously. Inject some personality. Young people are much less tolerant to boredom, so change it up, avoid long lectures with limited physical movement or audience participation and encourage as much interaction as possible.
7. Connect and engage
If you fail to put out a message that resonates with your younger audience, your event will be forgotten by next week, buried beneath all the other events your young attendee went to.
Young event attendees tend to go to events either for fun, for learning, to compete or by force. Not many appreciate the opportunity to network and may not see the point of a live event if they are not connecting with it.
One way to remain relevant is to continuously engage the young people. Let them drive the event marketing. Youths love to be part of something. They love to do exercise their influence so let them be heard. Naturally, this projects a much more youth-centric image of your event and you get to ensure your marketing strategy is on the right track!
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