You have heard the term and know the generation it refers to.
Millennials are now the largest living generation, out and about in the world and changing social and economic norms to suit their worldview. Of course, that results in stereotypes. You’ve probably heard of those as well. Millennials are borderline-narcissists who live to document every incremental progress in their lives on social media, lead pipe dream lives yet focus on holistic development, have issues settling down so they lack loyalty and have led to the decay of human values through our reliance on technology.
Did I say ‘our’ ? Quick confession here, I am a millennial as well and based on your age and experience with other millennials, you’d agree that most (or none) of these stereotypes hold true for every individual of this generation.
So what about that false advertising right above? How do you “structure an entire campaign” for millennials when I just said this cookie cutter generalization doesn’t do us justice?
The thing about millennials
Well, to appeal to the millennial voter, you have to be genuine in your pursuit. Millennials are still not the largest voting generation in terms of turnout at the polls. You can’t hoodwink an entire generation into the polling booth so let’s see how you can win their uncompromising support.
Offer something of emotional value
Behind your will to take office and bring some change, behind the decision to take matters into your own hands to ensure a better outcome, there must have been an emotional drive to your journey. Maybe you are the only one speaking out for the rights of the unseen minority. Maybe your victory will be a defiant move against the invisible strings that supposedly play us like puppets.
Tell that story. Talk about how your win signifies a step in the right direction for a larger population. Provide that emotional connection for millennials to truly appreciate the need for supporting your cause.
Create a nostalgic connection
This is almost like relying on psychological hokey-pokey to get someone around. Almost, but not quite. Every generation has a certain attachment to things they grew up with. Familiarity leads to trust; trust leads to acceptance. You could be trading out S&H green stamps for showing support and the older generation would take to the streets, holding up the mantle of your campaign.
As for millennials, it’s a frantic Google search for what “S&H green stamps” are. So what does it for them? How do you integrate something millennials connect with into your campaign?
Depending on the location and cultural impact, millennials in your area could be moved by anything that feels familiar from their younger years. Maybe you could make your volunteer registration form match the Scholastic book order forms teachers handed out. Maybe you could even dress as Xena, the warrior princess to your next rally to show them the relentless leader you are within.
Maintain your voice across platforms
Millennials are known for leading digitally-ingrained lives. Which means they would follow the news, join in the buzz created around you on Facebook and Twitter and keep a close eye on your actual messages relayed through speeches or the media.
They would also pick up on it if you change your position to suit the masses or stray from what you’ve said in the past. Known as the political flip-flop, people do not react kindly to the practice.
So before you campaign, figure out your stance on every hot issue during the election. Keep your messages very clear across all social media and public address. Make it so that all the campaign communication gives away your voice as distinct and identifiable. Your various messages across the campaign period should tie together to create a single core message which is your prime focus. Being all over the place with your campaign messages shows you care more about winning the election than about bringing change.
Give them a goal to participate in
It is no fun watching from the sidelines. Millennials want a piece of the action when they join in. However, sitting down for days at a campaign booth isn’t exactly the way to tap into the millennial pent-up energy on offer. Instead, give your millennial volunteers actionable goals to achieve.
Make the process fun. Create a leaderboard for tasks, award badges or put up a progress bar to display your fundraising goal. Get them out to speak to people, collect feedback and assign them with bigger responsibilities. That is how you’d get millennials to feel involved.
Show yourself as the only option
A forced choice is when you offer two options to participants to make them feel like they get to choose. It works very well on toddlers (“Do you want two pieces of broccoli or five pieces?”) and quite often on adults. Later on though, you realize none of those two were preferable and if you had a choice you’d want something different (“I want peanut butter. Five whole spoons of peanut butter!”) and that leaves you frustrated.
That’s a common phenomenon in politics today. People feel none of the candidates are any good and they are voting for the least bad option. That can’t be you.
You have to be the good option if you want millennials siding with you. Show them through your work and messages that you are the only right option. Don’t tell them why the opponent and their policies are bad. Tell them why yours are good for the future and they will readily recognize you as the one who deserves their vote.
Make voting a smooth experience
Like I already said, millennials are still not the biggest generation to show up at the polling booth. This is why getting out the vote efforts are very necessary for millennials.
You have to take an extra step to iron out any gaps in the voting process to get your millennial supporters out to vote on election day. Send them links to online voter registration forms and remind them of deadlines to the registration process. Send them updates on the campaign schedule and event reminders in case you have a rally coming up. Give them addresses for mailing downloaded registration forms and map locations of campaign centers if they choose to volunteer. If you have a system for sending regular updates in place, it is a very good way of staying on top of the hundreds of other information or entertainment-related tidbits they are gorging on every hour through their digital feed.
Show yourself as sincere
Millennials are known to be quite stocked up when it comes to trust issues. The constant fact-checking and guerrilla news-hunting keeps everyone on their toes.
So don’t give up if the millennials don’t readily fall in line as your campaign takes off. Put up videos and campaign ads emphasising your commitment toward the cause you are fighting for. Use your marketing to demonstrate how you have been consistent in your pursuit even before the candidacy. Engage the people who voice their support. Don’t ask for votes, ask them for ideas to bring about change instead.
If you are genuine through all of this and don’t lead people on with false claims, you can very well be the champion of millennials in the next election. In fact, all of the above are pretty standard advice and would probably work for any other generation as well. But conforming to the label we already acknowledged with the title of the post, I’d say these campaign practices are designed to work for millennials.