Natalie Myers

Marketing To Teens: Social Media Is A Crucial Element

November 24th, 2008

Teens are using social network sites, video-sharing sites, online games, iPods, and mobile phones. That’s no news flash.

What’s new is a study of 800 interviews with youth and their parents that has shed light on why young people use digital media. Here are the major findings:

–Researchers found two distinctive categories of teen engagement with digital media: friendship-driven and interest-driven.

-Friendship-driven involved interacting with existing friends.

-Interest-driven involved accessing online information and communities not part of their peer group.

–Adults and youth have different views of online activity. Adults view it as risky or an unproductive distraction. Youth value the social aspects.

–Youth are learning basic social and technical skills needed to fully participate in contemporary society.

–Youth are motivated to learn from their peers online.

–Most youth are not taking advantage of all learning opportunities that exist online.

This study, supported by a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation initiative, is the most extensive U.S. study of teen’s use of digital media. It involved more than 5,000 hours observing teens on sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube.

What does this mean for marketers? It’s more evidence that social media is a necessary part of the marketing mix if you’re targeting teens.

Consider a recent PR Interview I conducted with Rob Merritt, of CKPR, a large independent PR agency. He told me about how AirTran saw a 30% increase in sales of its standby flight program for 18- to 22-year-olds almost entirely by utilizing a YouTube contest and guerilla stunts.

The team did aggressive traditional PR as well, but the star of the campaign was the social media elements.

Natalie Myers

About Natalie Myers

Natalie Myers writes for MarketingSherpa’s Great Minds and Content Biz newsletters. She covers a broad array of topics for Great Minds, regularly interviewing thought leaders and experienced marketers about innovative or highly successful marketing strategies. For Content Biz she focuses specifically on online subscriptions models, including anything you pay for to read, listen to, watch, rent (as in Software as a Service models), etc.

She writes blog posts about topics relating to her beats, including useful information from interviews that doesn’t make it into an article.

Categories: Consumer Marketing, Lead Generation, PR Fame Communications, Social Networking Evangelism Community, Viral Marketing Tags: , ,

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.