How to Reach Millennials

6/11/2015

Authenticity and interactivity will help keep the elusive millennials engaged in faith-forming relationships and happenings.
 
Churches are not the only groups struggling to truly connect with the often-elusive millennials – those born between the early 1980s through the early 2000s. “They are likely the most studied demographic group because they tend to be full of contradictions and they’re challenging to predict,” Danielia Argueta, business development manager of ConneXionResearch told communication professionals recently. “But they are an important generation because by the year 2025 they will represent 75% of the global workplace.”
 
According to Danielia, “Gen Y” as they are also called, prefers an “experience” over “things,” as organizations such as Starbucks have leveraged. Millennials are ethnically diverse and opinionated and these young adults desire to have a voice. “Unlike previous generations,” she adds, “35% of millennials express themselves with 1-6 tattoos.”
 
How does this translate to churches? Millennials gravitate to organizations that engage their hearts, minds and senses, and they long to be associated with a cause. Research experts note this generation’s entire life has been unfolding within a wired, connected, digital world, so visuals and video and social media play an integral part in their lives. Texting is almost as natural, and essential to them, as breathing. Adds Danielia, “When organizations can engage their attention, these young adults make great cheerleaders for your cause, message and brand.”
 

  • Lesson 1: Think mobile
In 2014, about 30% of the population conducted internet searches on their cell phones as compared to 60% today. Almost 90% of millennials across the globe have digital devices. “Websites that are not responsive and mobile friendly will suffer in Google rankings and lose a great deal of traffic. If you are not able to have an entirely responsive website, focus on the homepage and a few other key pages,” she advises. It can also be helpful to study web analytics to learn more about who is finding your site and what they deem important – and ‘social analytics’ that reveal interests and preferences.”
  • Lesson 2: Be authentic and engaging: Match your mission to their values
Some 62% of millennials say that those organizations that engage them on social networks are likely to keep their attention. They seek to connect where their values are reinforced and understood, where others show interest in them and where they can provide input. In fact, most will take a lower paying job that is fulfilling over a higher paying one that is not. They place a high value on family and they look for ‘deals’ so providing parenting training and support groups and meals at events might be an effective strategy. Seeking authenticity, Gen Y’ers often prefer preaching styles and environments that offer a safe place for sharing challenges. Over 61% are concerned about global matters and seeking to make a difference and 80% of millennials donate money, goods and services.
  • Lesson 3: Get to know them
The best way to know what millennials prefer and seek is to ask them. They tend to gravitate to churches and leaders they feel are culturally engaged. To engage them, consider social media posts that pose questions and solicit stories related to personal experiences and the sermon topic -- or current events. Facebook is still the number one avenue to reach them, but more visual forums like Instagram and Snapchat are quickly gaining traction. Researchers suggest organizational leaders identify subgroups and target communication accordingly as one size does not fit all in this eclectic generation. In fact, some ethnic groups have different social media favorites than others.
 
To access recent research specifically focused on Latinos, see www.connexionresearch.com/latinamillennials
 
Additional Resources:
http://www.umcom.org/learn/5-key-millennial-research-findings-churches-should-know