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How Brands Can Connect With Teens Using Social Media

alison-peltz
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Every generation of teens always want to do things differently it seems. From setting trends both in fashion and technology to keeping their parents guessing their whereabouts, teens are always striving to be different in some capacity.

As marketers, teens force us to reach deep within the interwebs of our brains to keep delivering never been done before campaigns that capture and retain their interest.

A true mobile-first generation, 44 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds were smartphone users last year, according to eMarketer, and that number is expected to increase to almost 75 percent over the next three years.

Teens spend an average of 4.9 hours a day with mobile devices, including laptops, smartphone and tablets, where they watch the latest video parodies, play games, message friends, and update social profiles on Twitter, Facebook (yes, they are still on Facebook), and Instagram.

Status Quo Just Won't Do

Teens can be a fickle group who are hot on one product for a minute, only to turn around very quickly and never be into the trend again. This means, brands need to stay ahead of the curve as much as they can with this audience.

As teenagers work toward their treasured 16th birthday, Ford is utilizing platforms like Vine to reach a new target and partnering with popular Viners to create custom content that teens can revine, versus sharing as original content.

By partnering with Viners like Jerome Jarre and Rudy Mancuso who have more than 3 million followers each, Ford is introducing a new group of future fans to the automaker through their influencers in clever and humorous six seconds of video featuring the Focus and Fusion vehicles.

Last July, Virgin Mobile used Vine to host a contest where winners will be featured in the campaign's next commercial. The brand asked users to submit their best “Happy Accident,” which tied into a TV ad series featuring people purposely losing or destroying their phones to transfer to Virgin Mobile's plan instead.

Virgin hired influential Vine users to help increase awareness of the contest with #happyaccidents as the contest hashtag, taking advantage of the influencers' reach and individual style of content.

Emotion and Humor Always Wins

Tumblr is a popular platform for teens and not just the 15-year-old girls pining after photos of their favorite One Direction member.

The platform allows teens to express emotions through visual imagery, GIFs, and memes to communicate their feelings, aspirations, and teenage angst without their parents seeing it in their news feeds like on Facebook. It stays between peers, making it a more exclusive peer-to-peer platform than others that exist today.

Pretty Little Liars, a popular TV show for teens, takes full advantage of its social ecosystem, especially with Tumblr. Their Tumblr page is constantly updated (6-10 times each day) and shares countdown imagery with fans for new episodes, user-generated content like GIFs, video promotions for upcoming shows, and cross promotion of Twitter chats.

For fast food brands, Taco Bell plays right into the stomachs of older teens with its delicious and sly humor.

On Instagram, Taco Bell has an interesting strategy of showcasing products in a situation without making the brand the focus, rather the moment like a first date, lunch with friends, or a holiday. The brand is never over the top in a laugh-out-loud kind of way but naturally inserts itself in the everyday lives of its consumers, making teens feel one step closer to everyone's favorite late night meal.

Taco Bell Ccan Fix a Broken Heart

3 Other Ways to Leverage Your Brand With Teens

Brands that win with the teens stay ahead of the curve and are present on the platforms where there audience is, delivering stellar and engaging content to connect with them on a one-to-one level.

  • Don't pretend: Teens can sense inauthenticity so stick to who you are, cultivate a strong voice and create content to share on your social platforms. It will ring true with this audience.
  • Be agile: As new platforms arise like We Heart It, stay on top of these budding communities. Research how your audience is interacting and share key takeaways with teams. If your audience is evolving, so should your channel strategy.
  • Selfies rule: Teens love selfies as well as funny memes and GIFs. Think visual first when developing content calendars for platforms and extend the life of branded content where appropriate. Take the video and turn it into shorter versions for Vine, Instagram, and then static content for Facebook.

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