Driving Millennial Engagement

I’ve been preparing for the upcoming Folio Association Media Summit this week and will be facilitating a session on how associations can leverage media assets and events to grow younger audiences. This is more than a trend; it’s a movement and I’m looking forward to being a part of the conversation.

Research repeatedly states that millennials are tech savvy, free and open thinkers, and that they want flexibility in their workplace and work schedules. However, often neglected feedback indicates that millennials thirst for further education, training & professional development, and that they thrive in a collaborative, team building environment.

Good news: many associations are well poised to offer millennials education, training and professional development opportunities through their content.

Here is the challenge: to best retarget your association’s offerings and messaging to millennials, we must rethink in-person events and conferences, create a dynamic communication strategy, and become more mindful – highlight the meaningful aspects of your association and their positive contributions.

This is the first of a series of postings that I’ll be sharing in what we are calling “Millennial May.” Let’s start with some of the ways that your association can adjust their conferences and meetings to engage millennials.

Consider What The Investment Means To Them

An in-person event is invaluable, and is often the touchpoint that draws membership to an organization. We all know that conferences come with many hurdles, including cost. Because millennials are often saddled with debt (most millennials graduate with over $20,000 in debt), they need strong calls to action to spend their hard-earned wage. Unfortunately, that mindset often trickles down into industry conferences and events – if registration rates are cost prohibitive, no abundance of compelling content can pull in your millennial audience. Value of work life balance also plays a role in millennial engagement with your event – a four day long conference, in a distant location, can be prohibitive.

To account for both of these millennial considerations, offer various entrance and exit points and rates, catering to those who have different needs from the event. This increases your event’s fluidity and can boost overall numbers.

Meet Them Where They Live

One of the best ways to let a young professional get their toes wet with your organization is to adapt your event with a digital component or format. Stream content digitally for free or a nominal rate – if it is compelling, you might see them register for the full in-person conference the next year, with the motivation and reasoning to pair the professional development component with the in-person interactions. PCMA does an excellent job with this at their annual Convening Leaders Conference.

Give Them A Project

Feeling as though they are part of a team within your larger event is critical to engagement. This is more than a meet up – it’s a project with a purpose. Here are a few ideas: give them exclusive access to new content to review or provide feedback on, involve them in the room setup for a non-traditional session, let them vote for a speaker.


By meeting millennials halfway on price and digital offerings, and pairing compelling content with high energy networking opportunities, your event (and therefore organization) may just pique millennial interest.

What is your organization doing to engage millennials in your events? We would love to hear from you!  In the meantime, I’ll work to feature some of the insights from the Folio session this week on twitter. Feel free to follow @Network_Media for updates.

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