6 ways to engage younger audiences with digital

Most marketers know that digital and event technology is essential for events and brand experiences. But did you know that it’s mission critical for organisations looking to engage Millennials and Gen Z?

According to reports, 53 per cent would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their technology. With the digital stakes so seemingly high when it comes to younger audiences, how can marketers incorporate the right mix into their events and brand experiences?

Here are six event technology best practices for marketers and planners looking to engage Millennials — while ensuring they retain all five senses!

1. Authenticity, always
Younger audiences can sniff out a fake (see what we did there?) faster than you can say, “Let’s take a selfie!” So your digital actions need to be just as authentic as your face-to-face interactions. If, for example, Snapchat isn’t a fit culturally for your group, don’t force it — you may end up turning off Millennial influencers rather than engaging them. Always start with a sound strategy that works for your brand to ensure the best possible results. 

2. The Google guru
Word-of-mouth, particularly when online, is a big deal for today’s youth. Millennials will invest time researching your organisation and event and reading reviews online before they invest in the resources to attend. Make sure they can easily find the info they seek when they Google your event. It’s particularly powerful when the information comes from a third-party influencer — such as someone who has attended in the past and shares his or her positive experiences. 

3. Insta-snappers
It should be no surprise that social media is a key digital integration to utilise for this audience. Consider YouTube and Instagram as the cornerstones for your social media strategy if you want to reach Millennials and Gen Z, as they’re driven by beautiful and thought-provoking content they see online. Instagram offers a less-commercialised, visually driven network while YouTube attracts these groups with entertainment, education, and more.

4. Mobile app overload
These digitally native generations will flock to your event mobile app. Is it geared for this group? Make sure the app comes fully loaded with all the personalised bells and whistles this audience expects. They also crave reciprocal, one-stop application, so you get bonus points for making the components interactive. Take it beyond schedule customisation and networking by incorporating cool tech like second screen and beacon-enabled notifications as well as gamification activities. 

5. Make jaws drop
Want to really turn your tech up a notch? Millennials are motivated by brag-worthy moments they can capture and share, so give them a unique digital experience they can only find at your event. Consider selfie-worthy activations such as virtual reality, holograms, Pokémon Go-style augmented reality, and stunning projection mapping or LED walls.

6. Virtual virtues
Do you offer a virtual component to your programme? This could be a great entry-level offering for younger generations not ready or able to invest in your full experience. Just make sure it delivers against what they expect for online media and on-the-go content: seamless streaming, customisation, and Netflix-style recommendations.

By embracing the digital age and experimenting with new technology, you can reap the reward of engaged audiences of all generations. As for Millennials and Gen Z, when they see, smell, hear, feel, and touch your efforts, they’ll be even quicker to embrace your brand and share the experience you provided.

Katherine Zimoulis is vice president, content marketing with FreemanXP. This is an edited version of a Freeman Insights article

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