Event planners have always worried about keeping attendees engaged at their events. This is even more of a feat when faced with the fast pace of today’s world. The rise of technology and the proliferation of instant social interaction can make it very difficult to keep attendees present—especially millennials.
While many blame millennial disengagement on the shortening of attention spans, this is a misinterpretation. It’s not that millennials can’t give their attention for lengths of time; it’s that they require much deeper and more meaningful engagement. It’s not about instant gratification, but deeper connection with the events they are attending.
It is not enough to engage them once. Millennials need to be continuously interacted with, challenged and engaged. They want to feel connected to those around them. They crave events that are experiential and compelling. And yes, they want to be able to tell their friends and followers what they are experiencing in real time.
So, the question still remains: How can event planners engage their millennial attendees and increase their loyalty to the event? Here are several tips:
Don’t take your event too seriously. Millennials crave experiences, so use humor, jokes, icebreakers or anything else that will incite laughter. The title of this article, for instance, helps engage an audience. Does a discussion about unengaged millennials sound fun? No. By adding “Harry Potter and the” to the title of an article, however, adds a sense of fun to it. It transfers someone’s feelings of wonder and excitement to your topic or event. At times, it may feel silly, but you should strive to be more whimsical at your events. Bounce houses are not a necessity, but humor can create huge amounts of loyalty.
Everyone wants a reason to be emotionally or physically invested in whatever activity they are experiencing. Try to find ways to engage your audience by taking live surveys via text, having people answer questions from the audience or offering prizes and giveaways. Simply giving high fives to attendees as they enter your event can change their moods and increase their engagement.
Millennials yearn for authenticity. Stock photos, professional videos and grandiose marketing-style content will not keep them engaged. This generation has spent their life working to avoid and ignore advertisements. They not only want to witness events that are real, but they also want to feel as though they are part of it.
Engage Using Preferred Methods
You need to be aware of how your audience wants to be engaged. Millennials would never sign up to receive a physically mailed newsletter. Many of them wouldn’t want an emailed one either. However, if you can identify their chosen methods of contact, you can exploit this to engage them in their favorite way. Survey attendees before or during the event to find their preferred contact method. Also, encourage them to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote your event and interact with the people that are attending.