Strengthening your event engagement, especially to an audience of millennials, may be challenging. But, transforming your event into an interactive experience is especially rewarding for your brand. An event engagement ratio will likely represent your opt-in and buy-in ratio, too. So, how do you help attendees participate while at your event? And why is it so important that they do so?
Event Engagement is Crucial for Brand Loyalty
Millennials are currently the largest generation and the most challenging to understand. The great thing though is that millennials tend to leave a digital footprint that leads to what’s important to them. Brands supported by millennials can make millions from Instagram alone. With a live event, the standards to impress increase exponentially. To convince attendees to forget about their phone or mobile devices means you’ve won, big. Pull millennials into an event experience that feels like they’re living in a highlight reel instead of “liking” someone else’s online.
Event engagement is important for a long-term relationship with millennials. Not famous for committing, this audience needs meaningful interactions, memorable experiences, and transparency from your brand. Millennials may be challenging to hook, but once you do they’ll be with you through the long-haul.
Get to Know Your Attendees
A little preliminary research on your audience will go a long way at your event. When mapping out your event engagement plan, start with everything you need to know about your target audience. Where do they currently shop, who do they follow on social media, what are they wearing, using, or promoting? Again, that online trail will come in very handy. Or, you could just ask them. What makes them loyal to their current brands and how do they engage with those brands? Millennials love to talk about what they love. Especially, if there is even a chance you may be able to provide it.
At your live event, get to know your attendees even further. Q and A’s, booths, and product stations are easy elements to add to your event. These interactive opportunities provide an instant and immediate way to receive and provide feedback. Don’t just listen to what they say or write on a rating card. Watch their reactions, body language, or any ques as to how they are experiencing your brand message.
Millennials hate an infomercial approach to event marketing. Yes, they know the bottom line is to make customers or clients for life out of them. So, once you’ve made it clear who you are, don’t hesitate to very directly and precisely explain and offer why they should sign at the dotted line. The more you beat around the bush the less likely they will trust you. No car salesman ploys with this audience.
Appeal to Their Values
Millennials are more likely to buy purpose, not just a product. To create meaningful engagement at your event, offer your story through brand messaging. Like any new relationship, the one with your audience has to start with transparency. Millennials are interested in what you and your company believe in. They want to know your values and they can smell if you’re not being authentic from a mile away. Even though events are meant to be touched up and show-stopping, your millennial audience is looking for a brand they can believe in and trust. Here are a few ways to appeal to their values:
- Opt for event sponsors that reflect similar values socially, politically, or environmentally. Millennials will notice who you partner with, so choose wisely.
- Represent diversity within your brand.
- Be transparent
- Don’t push products. Push a meaningful story and purpose.
Impressing a venue full of millennials can feel like you’re on shark tank. But really, they’re a bunch of softies. Lead with the heart and they will flock to you.
Networking Requires Meaningful Interaction
Millennials are always looking for new experiences and new opportunities. Even if the purpose of your event isn’t networking, it will happen. You might as well facilitate the networking creatively. These opportunities create respect for your brand and encourage engagement. They may not remember everything that was done and said at the event, but they will remember what they walked away with. So, here are few ways to facilitate networking and other opportunities at your event:
- “Coffee Break” networking games. Millennials love drinking games, especially where coffee is concerned. Create a few coffee breaks that encourage 15-25 minutes to network. You can choose effective questions for each party to ask each other. “What’s your story?” “What’s your next big move?”
- Speed Networking. You know they already want to sit at a round table and exchange cards, why not build it up? Mention that it’s part of your event, perhaps toward the end. Include a timer and high-value questions, similar to speed dating.
Your event may not be about networking. But, your audience is always looking for the opportunity. You could even include mentions of your brand, products, and services as part of the networking ice-breaker games. Engagement will be the result of you facilitating something that’s going to happen anyway.
Put Your Audience Center Stage
The purpose of event engagement is to build a dialogue and relationship with your millennial audience. At your event, they will spend hours hearing about your brand, purpose, vision, and goals. Surprise everyone by giving your audience center stage. Let a few guests tell their story, why they chose to attend your event, and maybe one more relevant question that ties together your brand and their personal experience. Incentives like door prizes are a great way to encourage people to approach an open mic.
Even for those attendees who don’t share, they will be presented with the notion that their story matters to you and that your goal is to market directly to their needs. Event engagement is all about having a two-way conversation
Everyone loves a door prize. But the name of the game is engagement. This time, the focus is on you. While you create an immersive experience for your millennial audience, you’re also gathering information about them and reaching future attendees. Here are a few contests to increase engagement and market your event.
- Social Media Competition. Start your event with a red carpet or photobooth. Providing a hashtag unique to your event, see who can get the most shares and likes. Winner to be determined at the end of the event.
- Enter-to-win sweepstakes. Have your guests fill out an online questionnaire and digitally submit it for a random drawing.
- Tag to win. Have attendees tag as many friends (who should be at the event) as possible in an event photo with the event hashtag. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real for the millennials and this could expand your online engagement with your audience.
Continue Engagement Post-Event
Event engagement doesn’t end when the doors close. Continue to reach out via social media, tag attendees in photos, and send a few post-event emails. Keep the conversation going without being spammy. Create engagement from the attendee’s side by:
- Asking them to post a picture with their favorite item from the event goodie bag and tag your brand.
- Contest announcements post-event.
- Tagging attendees in event highlight reel.
Event engagement isn’t difficult as long as it’s meaningful. Especially for millennials, there has to be a greater purpose behind the event, your brand, and the many parts of the interactive experience you’ll provide for them.