We are going to take a look at some best practices when communicating with millennials. Now, before we jump into this, I realize some of you might be rolling your eyes a bit. But remember, it’s important to consider your audience when you communicate; just text your grandfather and see if he agrees with me.
Kidding aside, every generation has their communication style/preference and often it’s slanted to the technology of their day. We have to remember that millennials have only known an always connected, always available, (nearly always) fast internet connection. Ever left a voice mail for a millennial? If they called you back within the week consider yourself lucky. You learn quickly that a text message is preferred and you will probably get a much faster response time.
Whether you like it or not, isn’t the point: you want engagement and a response, so don’t force a square peg into a round hole. Adapt and meet them where they are at (and to be honest – a lot of non-millennials are here, too!)
As your organization strives to connect and invite millennials into your story, consider the following to help them engage with you more fully:
Your Content Should be Flexible
Time, Inc. did a study of how the proliferation of digital devices and platforms would impact media consumption habits of “Digital Natives” and discovered that on average millennials switched their attention between platforms about 27 times per minute (i.e., TV, channels, smartphones, tables, etc.) They are constantly taking in content across a wide range of platforms and services. When you ensure your content is flexible and available across the key social media platforms you increase your chance of engagement.
A simple example is your monthly newsletter which can be used to create content for your social media accounts. If your newsletter has a compelling story, highlight that in a Facebook post and include a photo from the story as well as a link to the full article. Encourage your followers to share/retweet.
Pics & Graphics
Let’s face it, pictures make it better. In fact, the simple act of incorporating an image with your post will increase your engagement a ton! eMarketer published research in April of 2014 which shows that Facebook posts with an images have an 87% interaction rate; all other post types were less than 4%. You can’t shy away from numbers like that.
What do I mean by “authentic?” Lindsay Dudeck with the Aspen Group said it perfectly: “Authenticity is more about values and culture than it is about what a generation demands. Millennials may have shouted for authenticity louder than the rest, but all generations in your church are looking for it.” She goes on to quote Brene Brown, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
The reason this is important is Millennials want to engage with organizations that are real. Remember, millennials have grown up with Photoshop – they know the real thing when they see it. If your organization is struggling financially, be real and make the need known. If you have an urgent campaign that needs visibility, be honest and make the need known. Let your followers know how they can help you – be specific – let them know why the needs is important and what their help will provide. When you are authentic you are approachable. Rather than a 501c3 entity you are now seen as individuals who have come together to work towards a greater good. The later is so much more appealing. Who you are – imperfections and all – is much more attractive than a polished image. It’s tempting and easy to do but it strips away your personality and works against you in your effort to connect and engage.
Add It All Up and You Get Engagement
Millennials want to engage with the organizations and brands with whom they choose to connect. And while this type of engagement is an expectation with “Digital Natives” (those who grew up with this technology AKA: millennials) it rings true with “Digital Immigrants” (those who incorporated this technology in adulthood) as well. When you content is available across multiple platforms (i.e., your website, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc…) you are increasing your visibility and opportunity for engagement.
When you receive an email you are probably quick to acknowledge their email and reply. What about a Facebook comment? Or a new Like? What about someone sharing your content, do you Like the fact they shared? All of these touch points go a long way to strengthening your relationship and connection. Millennials love it and actually expect it.
As you take an inventory of what you are doing currently, incorporate some of these best practices you may not have adopted as of yet. If you are struggling with how to get started or have questions, let us know. Look at it as an opportunity to practice authenticity by asking for help. We’re learning, too. So if we can share what is working for us, we’d be happy to do that. Feel free to comment below and let us know what is working for your team or if you need some help/encouragement, we’re here for you.