Disinterested Teenagers: Brands Beware

Teenagers in the UK and USA are constantly connected to the Internet. 75% of teenagers go online at least daily in increasing numbers, whether via phones, gaming consoles, laptops or the computer lab at school. Teenagers are living online almost permanently. Facebook and other social networks, unsurprisingly, play a huge part in occupying teenagers’ time online.

So, is this an opportunity for social media marketers? Research released by Forrester, suggests that just 6% of consumers aged 12-17 are interested in interacting with brands on Facebook, even though they are active users of the site in general . . . just 6%. This is the very age group which is most likely (even more than 18-24 year-olds) to be what the report refers to “conversationalists” – that is, people routinely posting status updates to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“While only 16% of young consumers expect companies to use social tools to interact with them, 28% expect companies to listen to what they’re saying on social networks and respond if they have questions,” says the report. Listening and the expectation that brands are doing just that, are the important concepts here. Relevancy in terms of context and content are important to this digitally savvy generation.

According to the  Forrester research report, the majority of 12-17 year-olds trust search engine results and television, with nearly 50% saying they could trust a company’s website . . . but just over a 25% reported trust in a company’s profile on a social networking site.

Using social networking sites to interact with real-world friends is central to the lives of teenagers . . . probably more so than your brands’ latest social media marketing campaign.

Bombarding (young) consumers with marketing messages via Facebook isn’t a winning strategy. The report concludes, hardly surprisingly, that listening to young consumers – indeed, any consumers – is the most important thing brands can do. Teenagers using social media initiate discussiond about brands and products, but they do not want the brand to do so.

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