Oscar Wilde once said that, “An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young.” It’s no secret that the young like to party, and anything involving pleasure will also involve the youth. Alcohol, food, sex, music, and fame are all “passions” of many young people. That being said, the first step to attracting a more youthful crowd to your next event would be to heavily incorporate any single one of these aspects. If there are shots being poured, appetizers being served, and sexy entertainers to gawk at, then the youth will be there. Of course the hard part is getting them to come to the event in the first place. Young people have a fine ability to recognize and reject marketing messages, but their pull as social trendsetters has always made them highly desirable customers. In this article we’ll explore four of the most popular ways of reaching the youth market: social media, promotional products, sponsorship and entertainment.

Perhaps the most popular way to reach the youth market today is through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The main principle behind this tactic is that young people don’t like to be told what to like, but they do like to hear what their friends like. That fear of being left behind, out of the loop, or simply “uncool” pushes many young people to follow the desires and trends of their friends. This has caused many corporations to take a new approach in their marketing departments, setting up Craigslist posts for “social butterflies” and “popular students.” That way, by reaching a few target students, the hope is that desire for their product will go viral and spread throughout the market. And for the youth that they hire, for once it actually does pay to be popular. The same principle works in relation to events, seeing that no one ever wants to be “missing out” on the fun. Studies have shown that the most successful social media marketing schemes for events are honest, interactive, and personal. Honest meaning don’t say the Pussycat Dolls are performing only to have it actually be the Judds. You must give an accurate portrayal of what is to be expected at the event, otherwise the post-event bashing could destroy your name. Interactive meaning interesting pages where people can share comments, watch video, play games, and provide feedback. And finally, personal meaning don’t have just one person blogging about the event, but create a community to get involved in the event promotion; the more personally invested people become the more likely they’ll attend.

Another way of grabbing the youth’s attention is seeking them out directly. Companies are more often sending young marketing execs out into college campuses giving out free promotional products in hopes of increasing customer loyalty or attendance at events. Most young people are obviously not very rich, so free stuff is always appealing. From personal experience I can recount dozens of times my car was covered with fliers for parties and various events through my college years. Often times those ended up in the trash. The bottom line here is getting creative. T-shirts, food samples, free music, product samples, and any other items that could give them a lingering taste of what is to be at the event, could increase the likelihood of attendance.

Of course, there’s nothing more appealing to the youth than a big name. Having a celebrity actor, musician, or athlete attend your event makes it just that much more marketable. A name like Kim Kardashian or Megan Fox can instantly connotate sex appeal, validity, and high profile status. And it’s not just celebrity names but corporate sponsors as well that could help. Alcohol sponsors like Grey Goose and Captain Morgan, or specialty food sponsors like Sugar Factory or Pinkberry, are names that operate like beacons to the youth. The only difficulty with sponsorship is that the youth can be very fickle, and whatever is hot today may be social poison tomorrow. So choosing the right name to be associated with your event is very important.

Finally, the entertainment should match the guestlist. If you’re aiming for the younger crowd, then hiring a Lionel Richie impersonator might not be the best idea. Call me partial, but I think a few gorgeous burlesque dancers, fire dancers or aerialists might fair a bit better…just a thought.