To successfully engage this group, you can't advertise to them; you have to invite them to participate in something bigger than advertising. Marketers need to give young people ready access to the content they create and enable them to participate with it, create their own and share it. They need to inspire and engage youth and then reward them for participating. For youth, public recognition has become the modern-day merit badge. If done right, your marketing efforts will gain momentum and feel more like a movement than a campaign.
One example of creating this type of engagement is the recent effort by the International Olympic Committee. It has allowed teens to adopt and participate with the Olympic values by creating a digital campaign called "The Best of Us Challenge." Aimed at young people, the global effort is a digital social experience that invites people around the world to challenge top Olympic athletes and their peers, using sport and non-sport talents via an online competition of consumer-generated videos.
Not only is it fun to see global youth engaging with Olympic athletes, engaging experiences like this provide Gen Y with a sense of co?ownership, so they feel they have a role and a voice in the movement and spirit of the Olympic Games.
Here are five tips on creating a movement that Gen Y will embrace:
1. Individualism: Enable Gen Y to be creative. They like to personalize experiences and they want the ability to self-aggregate your content. If they like it, they'll want to embed it on their Facebook pages. (The New York Times allows you to embed but CNN only lets you email a link).
2. In the now: This generation is always on and leads the buzz revolution. Marketers need to draw them into an experience quickly and demonstrate the immediate value. Gen Y is more than twice as likely as pre-Boomers to try the newest/latest version of products so you also have to continually refresh and update content. (Apple.com is much better than Dell.com at refreshing content.)
3. Social interactivity: Facilitate Gen Y's desire for recognition and connection with others. They index high on "I like to show off my taste and style," so give them the ability to gain the recognition of being the first one to share new things. A good example is the Victoria's Secret Pink event during which pics that were posted immediately appeared on stage behind the performers.
4. Authenticity: Communicate on their level. Gen Y is skeptical of authority and process five times faster than most of us, so speak their language in terms of simplicity, abbreviations, fragments and images. Keep directions simple and use images to click on rather than text or drop downs. U.O. (Urban Outfitters) and OMG.com are great at this.
5. Make it fun: Gen Y is experience-oriented; they feel it all. They enjoy absurdity and odd humor, which is why they are hyper-active on YouTube.