If you have teenagers roaming the halls of your house, you know that, if they’re not SnapChatting or “FaceTiming” on their iPhones or taking a “selfie” for Instagram, they’re probably watching videos on YouTube.

Cute kitten videos. Stunt videos. Prank videos. Dare videos. Comedy Skits. Lip dubs. Clips from movies and TV shows. Music videos. You name it, they’ll find it— and if they like it, they’ll share it everywhere they possibly can.

Now that YouTube has launched — well, actually, YouTube refers to it as a “pilot” for now — new paid subscription options, will YouTube-addicted teens take advantage?

We’ll have to wait and see. But, I’ll admit, I’m not sure teens are going to be particularly drawn to “network-style” programming on YouTube. After all, the clips teens most often consume tend to be DIY in nature: random happenings recorded on a camera phone, someone performing directly at a webcam or friends putting on a show together and uploading it for all to see. There’s a whole culture around the idea that getting millions of views and being famous on YouTube could lead to being famous on a mainstream level.

Justin Bieber started singing on YouTube, and is now a multimillionaire pop artist. Lauren Luke filmed short makeup tutorials, and now has her own cosmetic line sold at Sephora. Anybody could be the next success story, so why not put something up?

When teens do enjoy professionally created content, they’re doing it to avoid paying for that content elsewhere, as with music videos. Rather than buying songs, why not just make a playlist of videos and rock out?

A recent Time cover story about the self-centeredness of millennials sparked some debate about the fallacies behind that assumption — but the fact remains that young people excel at developing and finding their own user generated content, and prefer that content over the professionally produced pieces aimed at their demographic. That mindset could be considered self-centered, sure. However, it’s also deeply creative and interactive, which is exactly why kids keep coming back for more.

If you’re a brand with a teenage target market, and you’d like to use social media to connect with your audience, you’ve got a bit of a challenge on your hands. How do you create messages and content that:

  • Encourage that same deep interaction—and creativity in response,
  • Can live alongside DIY content, and not stick out like a sore thumb,
  • Deliver a fresh tone that differentiates you from the stodgy advertising they skip over with their DVRs and free programming online, and
  • Speak to a generation enthralled by its own voice?

You want to get it right because your business is on the line—but finding the right approach (and the right places and times to approach) can be difficult.

Here are four tips for reaching out to the “DIY millennials” with your brand messages:

  1. 1. Know your landscape. You have to watch, read and absorb lots and lots of what teens like in order to truly understand how they’re responding to, and interacting with, the content they’re engaged with. What gets kudos? What gets slammed? Once you’re conversant with what they’re up to, you stand a better chance of achieving the right tone.
  2. 2. Find your own voice. You’re not a teenager, so using slang or buzzwords could backfire on you. You’re also not selling Grandma a Chrysler, so being overly formal won’t work either. Somewhere in the middle is a tone you can own.
  3. 3. Encourage content creation. One of the most important aspects of millennial content creation is how teens use “reply” and “comment” features on YouTube and other networks to start conversations and debates, develop more content and draw attention to their own perspectives. You want them to bring that same kind of responsiveness and interaction to your marketing efforts, so open the doors to what they have to say, and encourage them to respond with their own content.
  4. 4. Step up and respond. If teens interact with you, they’ll expect more interaction from you in return. If they criticize, they want a defense. If they create content in response to your content, they’ll want recognition. Be there to respond, and you stand a better chance of keeping the conversation going.

Advertisers are going to keep targeting teens through all the traditional channels, such as television, magazines, out of home advertising, and so on. But if you want millennials to feel as though you truly understand who they are and what they want, you have to go to the places where they’re telling that story — and that includes YouTube.