The rickety door slams shut, it’s hinge further bent and barely holding on, as splinters of wood cascade to the ground.
“STAY OUT OF MY ROOM!”
Growing up I remember, and maybe some of you do as well my mom, dad, and siblings constantly trekking in and out of my room. Whether it was to grab scissors, play my video games or just snoop through my stuff, my room was constantly violated by their intrusion and presence. More and more, I noticed my belongings being tampered with and I ultimately decided to hide them to protect my privacy, independence and feel like I could be myself.
My personal mantra became one of “Stay out of my room!” The audible resonance coupled with the reverberation of a slamming door was the summation of my teen angst, rebellion and independence. It was the battle trumpet sounding and the anthem of my teenage years.
Although times have changed since I have been an adolescent, a similar song still resonates in teens today. However, it now goes by the rehashed version of “Stay out of my Social Media!” This article is the narrative of how this song came to be remixed, what it means, where teens are now hiding and how we can use this as marketers.
Birthday Party Surprise
This past weekend I had the honor of going to my cousins 13th birthday party (lucky me, I know). Soon after arriving, and exchanging pleasantries, basically “sup’s” to every kid who was glued to their phones, I made way over to my cousin to say Happy Birthday, and asked:
“What are all your friends doing on their phones, Facebooking?”
“Ewwww Alex, no. They’re on Snapchat. Facebook is for old people.”
It was at that moment that I realized three things: One at the age of 25, I was now considered “Old”. Two I had completely missed the shift from Facebook to Snapchat. And three, mentioning Facebook solicited a response of “Ew” which is essentially the highest level of disgust a teenage girl can mutter in a single syllable.
For the remainder of the party I intermingled with some of her friends, but mostly sat off in the corner and observed, or conducted “market research”. In which I discovered many things I was very unaware of, but in many ways brought me back to my own teenage years. After which I went home to do some investigating to I discover that this experience was not an anomaly, but rather an indicator of a larger movement.
From Words To Images
As so elegantly put by my cousin that “Facebook is for old people” there has been a shift in recent years from word based social media platforms to image and video based platforms. Research conducted by Pew Research Institute in 2015 and 2018 for example has shown a significant drop in Facebooks usage among teens, from 71% in 2015 to 51% in 2018. Whereas more visual based social channels’ have increased:
- Snapchat from 41% in 2015 to 69% in 2018 (Anderson, et al. 2018)
- Instagram from 52% in 2015 to 72% in 2018 (Anderson, et al. 2018)
While there are certainly many factors accountable for this transition, the major culprit appears to be
They say a picture is “worth a thousand words” and no one knows that better than today’s teens. From the recent public Facebook privacy scandals, to growing up with the power of google search, to parents and adults joining the social media platforms and a teenagers inherent desire to rebel- this all combined in to form an eruption. Many of my cousins friends at the party, confirmed that the major reason they prefer snapchat, and Instagram to Facebook falls into one of these three categories:
Many of my cousins friends said it’s simply more entertaining to interact and engage over visual based mediums as opposed to text.
Furthermore, it is easier to connect with friends and “See what’s going on”. While connecting and having fun was a key reason, I think there is a lot to infer from this cue of “seeing”, because there is a lot to seeing. There is a reason why we have a phrase “Seeing is believing”. Seeing does not involve any faith, it is right there for you to witness. And growing up in a generation where they been constantly fed deceits from the news, social media, authority, and even friends they have found a social media where lies are far and few because photos and videos don’t lie (usually).
Resolves Privacy Issues
The other main concern documented was transitioning to a platform to avoid authority, primarily parents and advertisers. Many of my cousins friends said that one of the big perks of apps like Instagram or Snapchat is that parents don’t have them. These apps have become their cool tree-house hideout where adults aren’t allowed. Thus it acts as this get away where teens can go to have a layer of privacy and more openly post how they feel, what they think, and what they’re doing. All without the fear of rejection, consequences or shame associated with authority figures being present. This parallels to a series of studies conducted by Pew Research Center the following has been discovered amongst internet users:
“86% of internet users said in 2012 they had taken steps to try to be anonymous online. “Hiding from advertisers” was relatively high on the list of those they wanted to avoid.” (Rainie, Lee. 2013)
“55% of Internet users have taken steps to hide from specific people or organizations.” (Raine, Lee, 2018).
With hackers and criminals at 33%, Advertisers at 28% and family at 14%, there is a connection between how users feel about authority; when avoiding hackers and criminals is considered of similar importance to avoiding advertisers, and family. So as Marketers how can we learn from this and change our approach going forward?
1.) Connect Through Spies a.k.a Influencers
Think of an influencer as your own personal sales spy who can be sent to infiltrate the target audiences defenses, collect reconnaissance, establish trust through value added content, enrich your brand and sell your material; all without being detected.
Influencers are vital, especially in markets involving teens aged 13-17, for all the reasons listed above. But primarily they have actively sought an alternatives to more traditional social media, so it is important to not blow your cover and send in the tanks. Instead, an Influencer is someone that the teens can look up to as a “cool” authority to whom they want to idolize. Some great examples of Influencers are:
- Make-up Guru’s: On YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat there are self-proclaimed “Make-up Guru’s” whom teach their audience how to apply make up in video tutorials. Many girls between the age of 13-17 turn to make up, and these influencers in particular, for a way to enhance their beauty. Instead of make-up companies directly marketing to teens, they can sponsor these make-up guru’s to use their products and talk them up in the videos. Thus they are being sold by a friend, rather than an icky adult.
- Drake: Artists have always been a great way to connect with audiences. But with teens they are especially influential because of the deep and meaningful lyrics they craft (HA-HA, what a joke). Thus, artists like Drake are a great means to target certain products toward teens like apparel, albums and even hover boards. (Strange, Adario)
There are many more influencers available, such as sports athletes, travel bloggers, comedians, cooks, etc. It is just a matter of seeking out where your audience is going to and finding influencers who can have dominion and say over them. Which is the biggest perk because these influencers can permeate into the teens space, leverage their authority, and persuade without all the traditional weight and feel of traditional approaches. One of the main reasons why they are able to do this is because they are
2.) Consistent & Transparent
One of the reasons why influencers are so popular is because they are consistent and transparent. The target audience feels as though they can genuinely let their guard down and connect with them. They don’t appear to have an agenda. Instead they are solely there to serve as an idol, who has their best interest in mind and simply wants to
3.) Add Value
The third, and arguably most important factor is to add value. Many times firms get too over eager in trying to sell, or shove their products down consumer throats. But just remember, a huge part of the reason why teens left traditional social media is to avoid exactly this. Instead influencers simply add value, be that by showing teens make up tutorials, entertaining them with music or videos, or showing them the way to pursue their dreams as athletes. The major key is to add value first, make sure that the consumer knows you are genuine and want what’s best for them and then your “suggestions” will sell themselves.)
The cataclysm of Facebook privacy, parents joining the platforms and teens angst all combined to force teen users toward more image based platforms. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube allow teens to escape their parents, feel safe. express themselves without worrying of intruders, find out the truth from friends, and allow for deeper engagement and connection.
But now that we know about their secret hiding place it is important to make sure our intrusion isn’t detected. Remember when marketing to teens to leverage influencers, be consistent, add value, and never, AND I MEAN NEVER, enter into their social media. Or else you will feel the wrath of a 14 year old teen in all their anger, and rage screaming “GET OUT OF MY SOCIAL MEDIA!” and we’ll blow our cover.
This has been Alex The Marketing Guy, reminding you to keep it simple, keep it real, and STAY OUT OF THE KIDS SOCIAL MEDIA.
Peace, Love, and Marketing
1.) Anderson, Monica, and Jingjing Jiang. “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 31 May 2018, www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/.
2.) Lenhart, Amanda. “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 9 Apr. 2015, www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/.
3.) Rainie, Lee. “Americans’ Complicated Feelings about Social Media in an Era of Privacy Concerns.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 27 Mar. 2018, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/27/americans-complicated-feelings-about-social-media-in-an-era-of-privacy-concerns/.
4.) Rainie, Lee, et al. “Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 5 Sept. 2013, www.pewinternet.org/2013/09/05/anonymity-privacy-and-security-online/.
5.) Strange, Adario. “The Rise and Fall of the Hoverboard.” Mashable, Mashable, 16 Apr. 2016, mashable.com/2016/04/16/rise-and-fall-hoverboard/#lXDYzBWPDSqr.