In recent elections across Europe, youth voter turnout has been shockingly low. In the European Elections in 2014, as well as the Brexit referendum in 2016, no demographic group stayed away from polling locations more than 18–25-year-old voters.
Disappointed by this low youth turnout and motivated to change it, we decided to launch the Instagram account EU FOR YOU in March 2019. The goal of our account is to engage young voters about what the EU does for citizens in their daily lives, what it potentially can do and also, how one can get in touch with EU institutions, which can seem distant and unreachable to many.
Within the first month, we managed to earn more than 5,500 followers on our profile (47% aged 18-24; 42% aged 25 – 34). These are the four pillars on which we base our work.
1. Visuals & Layout
In the age of social media, users are continuously exposed to an endless flow of pictures. To be able to stand out online, we had to make sure our visual presence was unique and recognizable. For this, we included design elements in our uploads that are, on the one hand, pleasing to the eye and, on the other, distinct enough from other social media posts such as travel, food, or fashion images. In doing so, we reduce the chances that users simply scroll past them.
We also considered that some users will not only want to have a look at our posts, but also the overall profile. In order to make the latter look good, each of our posts has a re-occurring theme (e.g. the same filter, color, frame, etc.).
2. Personalization of Content
It’s critical to ensure that our content provides followers with an answer to the question “How does this affect my/our life now or in the future?” Our goal is that after interacting with our post, the reader comes away with the feeling that what we’ve presented is related to an experience they either have had, will, or could have.
One example: we have promoted the topic “WATER”, which is not necessarily something most voters think about in-depth on a day to day basis. We addressed this in the caption of our post: “We use water every single day, but usually, we don’t think about it too much. Time to change that and discuss why our water is safe and how this impacts our environment, health & economy!”
By clarifying the angle of a particular topic, we can guide them through our posts and highlight the key messages more clearly.
3. Reduction of Complexity
Before posting on our page, we always imagine the person looking at our content is standing in a crowded subway, listening to music, or perhaps on their way to work or university. Then, we also take into account that politics is likely not their greatest personal interest.
With those two things in mind, our motto is “less is more.” We think about which key points we want our followers to remember after reading our posts and then try our best to communicate with them in the shortest possible way. Reducing complexity does not mean we shouldn’t choose complex topics. It only means that we should break down each topic to its key message, regardless of its complexity.
4. Knowing Your Audiences
We are aware that we cater to two audiences at the same time. One of those audiences just wants to see short, composed information without having to dig much deeper. The other audience is interested in learning more about the topic. Therefore, we structure posts in a way that puts the most important messages at the beginning, but also includes information on how to gain further insights about the topic at the end. In addition, we continuously communicate to our followers that we are open to questions. This not only signals that we care and value the exchange with our audience but also ensures that users feel welcome and taken seriously on our account.
In conclusion, we are able to engage millennials on social media because we show our followers that we can genuinely relate to them and understand what matters in their everyday lives. In addition, we use easily understandable language and embed it into a visually pleasing framework, in order to provide a light, yet informative user experience. Finally, we make sure that our account signals participation, meaning users who browse our profile know we are reachable and happy to talk to them.
From our perspective, it is a big misconception that young people are not interested in politics. If anything, they are not interested in the way that politics is currently presented.
The EU FOR YOU Team consists of Marcos Moschovidis, Luca Scotellaro, Maike Steen and Constantin Tran. Marco, Luca and Maike study Politics & Technology (M.Sc.) at the Technical University of Munich and Constantin is pursuing an apprenticeship in Communication Design at the Design School of Munich.