Teenagers represent about $44 billion dollars of purchasing power in the United States and spend about 9 hours a day on social media.
Brands have the opportunity to capitalize on this trend by providing value to the demographic but often approach their marketing efforts in the wrong way.
These 8 keys to connecting with teens on social media can help you make smarter marketing decisions when reaching out to the audience.
1. Know where to look.
All social platforms are not created equal. The popular opinion that teens largely have left Facebook and moved on may not be entirely true. According to one study, more teens use Facebook than any other social media app out there, but rank the app lower than Snapchat and Instagram when comparing how important each platform is to them.
This statistic has implications when it comes to where you should direct the bulk of your marketing effort. Facebook is great if you’re looking for width in your marketing strategy, but depth is the way to go if you want to connect with this demographic, and Snapchat and Instagram are where you should be focusing to achieve it.
2. Personalized and short content.
Personalized content is a key for connecting with the vast majority of audiences over social media, but for connecting with teens it is essential to your success.
Teens, in particular, are going to be more receptive to your text posts that are short in length with separate blocks of paragraphs or in list format. Attention spans are about 8 seconds on average for adults and even shorter for teens, so make sure your content is bite-sized and interesting enough to get them to stop scrolling and engage with it.
3. Stay aware of new platforms and features.
The majority of social media is crowded with brands that are all competing to get your audience’s attention in one way or another and that makes it very difficult for you win that competition. One way to increase the odds of your content getting seen is to stay on the lookout new features and platforms and be one of the first responders to provide value to your audience through those channels.
Music.ly, Periscope, Instagram Stories and Snapchat Spectacles are examples of relatively new channels to the social media scene and offer brands a chance to connect early on with the teens that are using them before the competition really floods the space.
4. Make content highly shareable.
Teens and adults use social media, and the internet in general, very differently. Teens use social media to communicate with their networks and are less likely to spend time on the homepages of the brands that share marketing content than adults.
For teenagers, social media is a way to express themselves and share interesting messages with their friends, so producing content that aims to be anything other than sharable isn’t going to get the best results.
Your 30-second, 3rd-person, how-to video is going to be shared far less than a 20-second, top-view how-to video about the same thing. Making your content shareable is much more about the approach than the message.
5. Patience and flexibility.
Teenagers are apprehensive to advertising, especially on social media where they often see it as nothing more than in interruption. With this in mind, we need to create social media campaigns that consistently provide valuable content without any expectation of a sale.
This is counter-intuitive for most marketers, but by making the endgame strictly about getting your content shared you position your brand for a long-term relationship with the audience as time goes on.
Teenagrers are fickle and their preferences change fast and frequently. Incorporate flexibility into your social strategy to deal with this reality and make sure you can change your delivery quick when you notice a downward trend in response.
6. Don’t sell.
Social media is not a platform for direct selling to teenagers. Your messages will only be seen as an annoyance by the audience when they are salesy or overtly pushing your brand on them. The whole idea of connecting with them is to establish relationships that will later be profitable for your company.
Selling to them not only will be largely unsuccessful, but the larger damage is done in the perception of your brand that they will develop and carry on long after they had to hide your content on Facebook.
7. Be authentic.
There’s a reason why reality TV shows are so popular with teenagers – storytelling. If you want to gain the trust and attention of your teenage audience, a good approach is to document your brand’s story using social media.
Teens know when you’re content isn’t true to the goal of connecting and providing value to them and are going to view your brand as untrustworthy or not useful to them when you try to be something you’re not.
By telling stories you provide entertainment value with funny, interesting, or otherwise useful content that builds a relationship based on authenticity instead of marketing goals.
8. Engage with them.
This is a key that should be applied to all demographics, but especially important for connecting with teenagers on social media. Comment, retweet, mention, and otherwise get involved with their content to establish your brand personality and show that you’re in the relationship game and not the sales game.
By engaging with teens you show you care and make them feel special by sharing and commenting on the content they post to social.
Always answer questions and reply to them when they reach out to you or comment on your content and you’re on the way to building a great connection and establishing your brand as personable and committed to them as you go forward.
Read more: Understanding the Teen Market — And How to Maximize Your “Swag”
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