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Reaching Teens through Social Media

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“If you are not online, you are completely out of the loop – you don’t have a life, you don’t really exist,” is how one thirteen-year-old describes the importance of being online. For teens, it seems as if online is the new real world. Teens spend an average of 31 hours per week online and much of that time devoted to social networking.

To get a better understanding of their social media usage, AMP conducted an online survey of 114 teens, ages 12 to 18. We found that social media consumes most aspects of teenagers’ lives with no signs of stopping. In fact, 62% of teens report using Facebook more often this year than they had last year. This may be due to the fact that many consider social media to be more real than their real lives. For brands to have the greatest impact with teens on social media, they must cater to teens’ online behavior.

Where Teens Are

Our findings uncover behaviors that brands can leverage to reach teens in this space. Facebook is by far the most often used social network with 91% of teens having an account. Furthermore, 86% of teens report that they like to get information about brands on Facebook. Youtube is the next most preferred site with 71% having an account, and 31% looking for brand interaction. Twitter follows in a close third with 50% having an account, and 25% wanting to tweet with brands. Brands should focus on communicating with teens on Facebook but also consider reaching teens on Twitter and YouTube, depending on which channel is most appropriate for their objectives.

When Teens Are Online

Between classes, sports, and part time jobs, teenagers lead busy lives. So, when should brands connect with teens? The sweet spot is between 2pm and 8pm. 79% of teens report that they typically are online after school, and 68% are online before bed. Although many teens log on in the morning (41%) and between classes (31%), speaking with them after school will allow for a more in-depth, meaningful interaction.

What Teens Want from Brands

To optimize interaction with teens, brands need to consider who teens are and what they want. It is important for brands to understand that teenagers “want a genuine experience, they want to be heard and recognized by the brand.” For brands, this data suggests brands should not just continuously self promote. They should converse with teens, especially encouraging teens to include the brand’s products in teenagers’ status updates and pictures, as 63% of teens say posting status updates and pictures the main activity they do do on social media. It also allows brands to reach teens’ online networks. 40% of teens have more than 300 Facebook friends, and 30% have more than 100 Twitter followers. So, these posts can be seen by a great number of other teens.

When your brand is trying to reach the largest audience possible, it can be difficult to resist posting too much. The likelihood of being un‘followed’ or un‘liked’ is relatively low as 90% of teens have never un‘followed’ on Twitter, and 60% of teens have never un‘liked’ a brand on Facebook. However, it is important to build a positive relationship with teens, so try not to post too often. No matter how interesting the content, frequent posts come off as spam. 38% of teens consider it an annoyance to clog up their Facebook news feed, and 60% cited over-tweeting as a reason to un‘follow’ brands. Teens report that they do want to hear from brands about new products, coupons, promotions, and giveaways – just not six times in one day. Brands that understand where, when, and what to post will have the greatest impact on teens through social media.