How to Attract Gen Z to Your Events

Authors: Christine Johnson       
Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes       

Consider these strategies to attract Gen Z to your events.

Social Media — What we’ve seen from working with those in their teens and early 20s is that they prefer different platforms. While millennials represent a strong demographic on Facebook, Gen Z favors Instagram and Snapchat, where they can better control their privacy and their sharing settings. Since Snapchat and Instagram Stories are shared with only a select group of people and exist temporarily, that makes it much harder for marketers to see users’ online behavior and to target them. We are experimenting with new ways of storytelling using Instagram Stories to make our posts more engaging and draw in younger followers. On the National Student Council Instagram account (@NatStuCo), we’ve covered events using Instagram’s interactive polling features to increase engagement. In the future, we plan to emulate Instagram accounts like Bloomberg Business (@bloombergbusiness), which use sequential images with text overlays to tell stories.

Online Video — Seventy percent of Gen Zers watch more than two hours of YouTube every day, according to Trifecta Research. In addition, a shortform video app called TikTok — where users can follow influencers, use fun filters, and see hashtag-driven trends — is popular among younger Gen Zers. Using these platforms for video marketing can also be highly cost-effective: We recently conducted a Snapchat video campaign with a cost per click of $0.16, dramatically lower than the industry average cost per click of $1.06 on Facebook. We’re working with video partners to capture footage and testimonials from attendees at student events that we can use to promote other student events throughout the year.

Authenticity — Gen Z feels a strong affinity toward brands that demonstrate genuine values. They grew up with Google, social media, and Yelp, so they are more apt to trust peers and customer reviews to make decisions than to be influenced by ads. Consider working with influencers. Partnering with a YouTube star or an Instagram trendsetter may be cost-prohibitive, but not every influencer has to be a Kardashian. Gen Z trusts nano-influencers — everyday people with between 2,000 and 10,000 followers — the most.

On-Demand Communication — The majority of Gen Z spends more than three hours daily on messaging apps, according to a Think With Google report. Almost all of them own a smartphone and more than half are online for 10 hours every day, so your website must be mobile-friendly and you need a killer on-site event app. We also use instant messenger and social media to answer live FAQ so that Gen Z attendees always have the information they need while on site.

Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes is owner and president, and Christine Johnson is an account manager at mdg, a full-service marketing and public relations firm specializing in B2B events.

Download “The State of Gen Z 2018” white paper published by The Center for Generational Kinetics.

Create Hands-on Experiences

What feedback do we hear most often from students who attend conferences? They want more interactive activities. Rather than being lectured to, Gen Z wants to learn by doing. In addition to creating engaging on-site experiences and hands-on workshops, consider extending the event by offering opportunities to learn online. According to research by The Center for Generational Kinetics, 85 percent of Gen Zers have watched an online video within the past week to learn a new skill.