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How to get millennials to do something

Harness the power of millennial activism and social awareness without pandering


People call us lazy, selfish, entitled and flighty. But we’re also civic-minded, passionate, interested in social justice and the environment, and eager to support corporate social responsibility. And considering there are 7 million Google results for how to reach us, it’s clear we’re a highly coveted demographic.

So what exactly do you mean when you say you want to target millennials?

Sure, clicks and shares and views are nice, but what really matters is conversion. Purpose-driven organizations want to encourage positive action and shape public opinion. So how do you get millennials to care enough about something to get involved? How do you motivate them to attend an event, visit a museum, donate or sign a petition?

Be authentic and unscripted in storytelling

This is not an audience drawn to scripted videos. Authentic content -- candid images and real stories from real people -- is more effective in connecting millennials to causes. Don’t be afraid to share behind-the-scenes peeks of your organization that provide a real look at the work you do. This can be done on your social media channels, or even by offering behind-the-scenes access to media.

Use humor and emotion to connect

What’s worse than dry, boring content? Dry, boring content on social media. Content that uses humor and evokes emotion is what millennials are most likely to share with their friends. And sharing content via social media, email and text are three of the simplest ways for millennials to get involved in your cause. The simple act of sharing extends your reach to their circle of friends, leading to exponential audience growth.

Focus on the visuals

A picture’s worth 1,000 tweets when it comes to grabbing a millennial’s attention.

Forget the stock photos. We’re a visual demographic; we’re on Instagram and we pay attention to the quality of an image. Do you have photos and images from your organization that no one else has? Cool patient photos before and after treatment? Great. Share them – with the patient’s permission, of course. And while you’re at it, explain how your advocacy work on a national level aims to bring more treatment options to all patients.

Make advocacy easy

No one wants to jump through hoops just to get a story link to a friend. While you’re sharing your interesting, witty, emotional content and images, make sure they’re optimized for mobile. Millennials are more likely to share your content if it’s a simple process. If you can provide action steps for millennials — whether supporting legislation, donating to a cause or signing up to volunteer — help them do it quickly on-the-go.

Bottom line: Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple. Keep it real. Don’t read 7 million advice articles online. Just share authentic content. And when in doubt, find a millennial and ask us what we’d like to see.

Oh, and do it now. Because pretty soon, we’ll be moving on to Generation Z. Don’t get me started on them.

Tweet: Trying to reach #millennials? Keep it simple and keep it real. Check out these tips from @pcipr:


Jamie Hansen is an Account Supervisor and hiring manager at Public Communications Inc. You can find her working with her clients on advocacy and awareness issues or cheering in the bleachers at Wrigley Field.