Private Minds

How to navigate as a brand if you want to be a part of teenagers’ lives

It is difficult to enter the sphere of teens – both in terms of being allowed access into their lives and being considered a relevant ”intrusion”. We call teenagers Digital Natives since they are practically born with digital communication, taking its possibilities for granted and finding their own ways of protecting their privacy in the public sphere of social media. Millward Brown Nordic’s recent study on teens and social media shows that teens share more information about themselves on social media sites than they have in the past, but they are also taking a variety of technical and non-technical steps to manage their privacy. This entails that e.g. on Facebook they do not necessarily share things on their walls but rather in more private chat forums that they create to satisfy different social relations and connections – e.g. a group for their class in school, a group for a certain occasions, activities, common passions, hobbies, etc.

In our recent study on teens and social media, we concluded that social media satisfy a primal need to share feelings and content and to be part of a social unit in a world where people are increasingly disconnected and time-challenged. Teens have a deeply rooted need to be acknowledged for who they are – and a big group of friends, followers and connections validate them as people in their own right, but they are fed up with spam and they move away from “open spaces” where everyone can follow their conversations,  says psychologist,  Julie Hoffmann Jeppesen, part of the qualitative team in Millward Brown Nordic.

Take a creative, singular approach

In the minds of teens, spam is considered “a lot of irrelevant information that I do not care about” and they block certain advertisers if they are considered too pushy. This entails that for advertisers it is imperative to take a more creative and singular approach to teens.

On Facebook the teens’ walls are not really used much, their news feeds are full of irrelevant messages that have no impact on them. They simply do not see many of the posts in their news feeds – they are per se disregarded as irrelevant. If advertisers want to enter the sphere of teens, they need to “stop blowing smoke” and think out of the box. And in order to make it onto the teen radar, it is important that brands understand teens’ needs, motivations and the challenging process of creating identity. This is something we have learned a lot about in our study, says anthropologist, Annika Jeppesen, part of the qualitative team in Millward Brown Nordic.

Teens’ immediate concerns and needs revolve around the world very close to them and they would rather chat with friends than interact with brands.

So what do brand owners do?

A place to start:

  • Update your channels frequently – teens undergo rapid mental and physical changes over a short period of time and your advertising should, too
  • Create events on your channels where teens meet online to socialise and talk about items and services
  • Listen and learn: Offer prizes and presents for writing online reviews of products or services – recommendations from peers are regarded as very reliable
  • Invite teens to co-creation or at least invite them to take part in polls that are used as a basis for decision-making. If you have to choose between 2 flavours in your upcoming launch for a product extension, why not ask them to take part and share?
  • It’s all about involvement. Align your campaign activities and learn from e.g. ‘Share a Coke’ and ‘Coinoffer’.

Millward Brown’s teen study in a nutshell

The core questions we asked:

  1. How and why on social media
  2. Where on social media
  3. Wants and motivations
  4. How to interact
  5. The Future?

Further reading

In Denmark, the Think Tank Digitale Unge has just published another online survey on young people’s private and public lives on social media. Their observations and ours have many similar traits. Please share your experiences with teen communication below or contact us if you need consultancy on how to brand yourself in the young target group.

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