Almost half of America’s teens are constantly online. As a marketer, what are you going to do about that?
5 min read
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A recent Pew Research study discovered that almost half of America's teens are online “almost constantly.” In that study, 45 percent of respondents confessed that obsession — a figure that has almost doubled since the same study was conducted three years ago.
What do they do online so much, you ask? Mostly they hang out on social media platforms. Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat took the first three spots among the most popular networks for teens. The largest social network, Facebook, landed in the fourth spot.
So, given this information, as these teens approach adulthood, how do you market to the growing Gen-Z cohort? Here are some ideas.
Be where they are.
Even though Snapchat has noticeably lost its appeal to the masses, teens named it the second-most-used platform. Also, notice that Facebook, the first network that comes to mind when we adults talk about social media, took fourth place, which is pretty disappointing for that megasite.
In fact, teens are getting away from their parents’ social platforms. Not only do they like to have their “cool” platforms where they connect with peers, they are also much more open to experimentation. When they adopt a new platform, they do not stress over saving their content, backing up their images and so forth. They jump right into it.
So, if you are marketing to teens or want your company to stay "cool" with Gen-Z, you have to be as adventurous and experimental as they are. Is some obscure network suddenly getting traction with teens? You'd better be there. Not sure how to market your business on a platform where you overlay your clips with music? You'd better figure it out, and fast.
Skeptical about how ephemeral content can help you make a lasting impression? You'd better be comfortable constantly creating lots of content to stay top of mind. That latter tip brings me to my next point.
Related: Ways Marketers Can Reach Gen Z
Accept the need to create more content than you could possibly use.
So, let's return to that startling 45 percent of teens who are online “almost constantly.” What does that mean? It means they log on (maybe they never logged off) at least more than several times a day. With that much time spent online, teens want to be entertained, educated and engaged. They don’t want to see that same old blog post of yours every time they go onto their Instagram.
Besides, the algorithms that almost every network now has will not allow you to show that same post over and over again. So you have to adapt and create a ton of content constantly and consistently. (Pssst … Upcycling can become your best friend.) You also can’t get hung up on the fact that the half life of your content is 30 minutes, at best.
Adopt a variety of media.
Because teens are constantly online and looking to be continuously engaged, you have to adapt a variety of media on your content mix. It's not surprising that the video-sharing platform YouTube was named the most used by teens, followed by the image-first network Instagram and then by Snapchat, a platform that has introduced the concept of ephemeral content. You have to become very comfortable sharing your brand story through videos, images, snaps and music clips and rely less on somebody reading your stories.
"The social media environment among teens is quite different from what it was just three years ago," research associate Monica Anderson, the lead author of the report, said in a statement. "Back then, teens' social media use mostly revolved around Facebook. Today, their habits revolve less around a single platform."
Throw out the window everything you thought you knew about marketing. The new generations are disrupting all the norms with their habits. They are more connected than ever. They are truly native in the digital space. They know how to research information and find what they need.
They are also looking to be entertained and educated at all times. Their engagement with your content will quickly let you know whether they find it worthy of their time or not, which — of course — will be quickly picked up by the algorithms.
And by looking at the sheer amount of information teens consume every single day, you have to find ways to stand out above the noise. Oh, and one more thing: You have to do it with taste. The new generations of consumers do not like when ads are being pushed down their throats.
So get ready to pump out large volumes of high-quality, engaging content in a variety of media. Also, learn to constantly adapt. Do not bank on the network that is deemed the most popular today remaining in that No. 1 spot tomorrow. Instead, don't be afraid to experiment and get creative in your promotional messages.
That report of social media trends from last year? It won't be of any use to you this year. Your market — those young Gen-Zers — will let you know, loud and clear, exactly what they prefer this season.