Apps and Websites to Engage Millennials

Political news apps, such as VOTR and INVOLVD, enable their users to take immediate political action. These types of politically engaging apps represent the most targeted advertising channels for reaching young adult voters.

Getting young people involved in politics has always been a struggle. We have entered an age where traditional media is not always trusted. Politicians and organizations are attempting to entice 18-27 year olds to get to the polls to vote about healthcare and Medicaid through other means that are more appealing to them.

Billboards, ads, snail mail and newspapers are becoming advertising relics of the past, as far as millennials are concerned. They have very little appeal, unless they are broadcasting anti-government or acts of art-ivisim that have a considerate amount of shock value. Just like Uber and Lyft are taking over the shared ride economy as we watch taxis go extinct, politicians are realizing it is necessary to find new ways to appeal to this new generation of voters. The need to advertise to this age group is due to the fact that millennials have officially overtaken the baby boomers as the largest demographic of voters.

A report by the Millennial Impact Project shows that the three things that are of the utmost importance to millennials are: education, healthcare and the economy. The same study found that 64% of all millennials had signed a petition within the last month, and only 5% felt that their actions have no impact on the nation.

Millennials are heavily influenced by social media, and so it should come as no surprise that they are the target of the messaging being displayed on such sites as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Social media has the ability to appeal to millennials in a couple of ways (besides advertising) and it plays on this young group’s desire for instant gratification. The real-time discussions, live feeds and ability to participate in all platforms from a smartphone are huge draws for this demographic.

Apps are being developed to engage millennials and to offer political news to them on their smartphones. Apps like INVOLVD are expected to be heavily present in the next presidential election. INVOLVD was developed by the journalists at the Boston University College of Communication. The app offers a journalistic informative analysis of each issue. After reading the article, app users can cast their vote on the viability of the candidates’ stances on each issue. If users have their own solution to any of the proposed issues that they would like to offer up to one of the candidates, the app has a video feature where you can record yourself voicing your solution, and then send it directly to the political candidate of your choice. If the solution is viable and receives enough support through the platform, journalists will conduct an analysis of your idea and post it to the site where it can be analyzed by others.

Sites such as theSkimm offer a breakdown of political issues that are captivating and full of millennial humor. Their tagline says it all “theSkimm makes it easier to be smarter.” Some of the headlines will find you tilting your head to the side, intrigued and wanting more. Transparency is what millennials are looking for. This age group wants the most direct information without having to filter through bias and “fake news” to get to the root of an issue. Typically, issues on theSkimm are covered in as little as three sentences.

Hear My Voice offers a much more in depth view of issues that users choose to follow. It is broken down into dozens of topics, and the current issues are being brought to light in each arena. You select an issue, like the Dakota pipeline or Obamacare, and it is summarized in both the arguments for and the arguments against. Once you have had the chance to read the details, there are a number of actions that can be taken from the same page. How’s that for real time action? You can share it with friends on the site, share it on social media, get your legislator’s number, send an email to congress, or donate money to the cause. Since research shows that only 36% of millennials show up for marches and protests, this offers the one stop shop for engaged millennials without leaving the confines of their apartments.

For millennials who can use their phone as a breathalyzer before leaving a house party, a Tinder-esque political app is only appropriate. The Tinder-like app, VOTR, uses the similar swiping technique that has grown so popular with younger people. After downloading the app, you answer questions about issues in a “yes” or “no” fashion by swiping left for ‘no’ and right for ‘yes.’ Depending on your swipes to questions like legalizing marijuana and public land use, it will pair you up with the candidates who share your views.

The link to millennials’ local politics is that much more accessible and causes them to pay attention to issues that are literally closer to home and to their hearts. You can call out your local politicians by tagging them in your social media postings on numerous different platforms which allows millennials to feel empowered by their actions. This is a stark contrast to our parents standing faceless in a crowd with homemade signs protesting outside capital buildings.