How to Engage Millennials: Lessons from Kwanza Hall

Brent Leary of CRM Essentials (left) and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall at Social Media Today's The Social Shake-up Conference on Sept. 16.
Brent Leary of CRM Essentials (left) and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall at Social Media Today's The Social Shake-up Conference on Sept. 16.
In a meeting room at the swanky W Hotel in Midtown on Monday, about 50 people sat on the edges of their seats, hoping to learn the magical ways to engage Millennials from the man who has The Gift- City Councilman Kwanza Hall.

Hall is captivating in his own right, but he truly has a knack for engaging the generation of young people in their early 30s and 20s, who make up a large part of his constituency, both on social media and then out in the community. Businesses hoping to tap into this generation's buying power or connect to the growing number of techpreneurs, especially those settling in the techpreneur epicenter of the South– Buckhead, know that engagement is the key.

As a speaker at Social Media Today's monumental "The Social Shake-up" conference, Hall offered up morsels of wisdom on how to keep these young people engaged. The 50 or so members of the audience made up of Gen X-ers hoping to learn more and admiring Millennials who just wanted to hear what he had to say about them were hanging on his every word.

Some raised their hands to ask questions, while others simply tweeted questions from their smartphones.

This is what Hall had to say, in a 140 characters or less. #KwanzaSays

1. Meet them where they are.
Hall said he knows that Millennials have busy schedules and so he chooses to meet them where they are. Meet them at the places where they use Groupon and Scoutmob, "new tools that help them to live better."

2. Be real, genuine and transparent. Hall said that Millennials value transparency as a way of life. They have grown up just putting it all out there on social media, and they trust people who are real, open and accessible. "They're just much more real...They're open to ideas to be truly revolutionary."

3. Come up with a truly meaningful message. This piggybacks on point 2. Millennials want to live purposefully and to make their communities better.

4. Respond...immediately. Millennials expect a "social media level of responsiveness" in everything they do. If you don't have an answer right then, just tell them that. Just make sure you tell them immediately.

5. Talk in "code."  Sometimes, Hall doesn't give all the details about an event he's attended. It helps generate buzz and other Millennials fill in those who weren't there. "If you were there, you're in," Hall says. It's like being part of a cool community of people who have a real relationship with their community leader offline.

What about Gen-X'ers?

Hall says Gen-X'ers and Millennials need to meet each other on common ground, which may or may not be Facebook, for example, since more Gen-X'ers use Facebook while Millennials use Instagram and Twitter.

"I can kind of talk both languages," that of Millennials and of Baby Boomers. "We're (Gen-X'ers) the connectors," Hall said about his own generation.

"And we need to step up and play that role."

Andrew September 18, 2013 at 03:46 PM
To reach Millennials, learn to spell it correctly. Double-n y'all, double-n. Gin-X never had this problem.
Kiri Walton (Editor) September 18, 2013 at 03:51 PM
:) Andrew, you're right. However, I cannot blame this on millennials since I'm right on the cusp of being a Gen-X'er and Millennial!


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