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Survey Says Teens & Young Adults Don’t Interact with Brands in Social Media

Spencer Hesseltine April 7, 2011

Don’t say this too loud in front of your boss, but there’s a chance that all the social media marketing you’ve been doing to attract a younger audience could be falling on deaf ears.

Turns out, the 12-24 age bracket doesn’t want to “like” or be friends with brand names. So says a survey from Forrester Research, as reported in Adweek. How’s this for dismal: only 6% of 12-17 year-olds say that they are friends with a brand on Facebook.  While that figure doubles with 18-24 year-olds, that’s still only 12 percent of the online population in that age group.

Of course, this goes in direct opposition to what brands are trying to do online. They want to use social media to reach young people for two reasons:

  1. The 12-24 market is traditionally the “most desirable” demographic; and
  2. The majority of 12-24-year-olds spend most of their extra time online.

The problem is, most people in the demographic don’t believe commercial brands should be allowed on social sites at all.

While these results can be a bit disheartening, they’re really not all that surprising. When was the last time a teenager did what you wanted them to do? Apparently, the rebellion against authority has moved onto the web as well.

So what’s a brand to do? 74% of all young people spend a majority of their time on the web. Companies aren’t likely to jump ship on the internet, simply because it’s so ingrained into everyone’s lives. The secret seems to lie on how companies use social media to interact with consumers. Instead of being proactive, Forrester recommends that companies become reactive rather than proactive. In other words, listen to the feedback they’re getting from the younger generation. Of the respondents who did interact with social media, 16 percent said they expect consumer brands to interact with them. 28 percent said brands should listen to their suggestions and get back to them with a word that they’re listening to suggestions.

In other words, if you want to reach teens and young adults, do what they always yell at their parent s to do – listen to them. Find out what they want and give it to them if at all possible. Don’t tell them what to think – rather, make them think their opinions count. That will open the door to more interaction with the most desirable markets online.

Attract them to your site with things you know they like – downloads, songs, podcasts, apps, whatever it takes. Then once they land on your site, don’t tell them what to do. Jus t give them plenty of room to tell you what they like and don’t like about your brand.

It’s a long hill to climb, but if you can get this younger demographic on your side, the results could be positively phenomenal.

Article written by Tom Tuerff who is the Content Coordinator for TheSEOAgency.com.

8 comments
Laz
Laz

Doesn't surprise me at all. I think part of it stems from "liking" Coke then trashes up their news feed when they just want to hear about the party last night.

Bjorn
Bjorn

I think this is quite obvious.. And I think a lot of mainstream business companys are throwing money out the windows. I saw a local gas station had a sign asking for twitter followers and Facebook fans. My first though was, why in the world should I be friend with a gas station?

Stoplight Anderson
Stoplight Anderson

@ traffic coleman. you look like Lil Bow Wow and Kobe Bryant with an elementary grammar. :) you're my idol. been seeing you commenting on SEO blogs. I love your NEON green site.

TrafficColeman
TrafficColeman

Spencer..the youth is going to interact with things that are interesting..so if your going to market to them..you better have something good in your goddie bag... "Black Seo Guy "Signing Off" My recent post Only Dummies Changed Their Avatar Picture

Peter Joseph
Peter Joseph

That was an honest opinion and i love it; i also rarely interact with brands on social networking.

@SMOman2010
@SMOman2010

@TrafficColeman - I do agree with you, if a brand online is targeting that age range, they should have something valuable to offer them if the brand is trying to engage with younger online users. See, that is where many companies fail online, they try and market their products and services to the wrong demographic. If you saw the survey, it states that 6% of all 12-17 year old's engage with brands online. I think this is due to 1. they probably don't yet have jobs which means no income to buy from the brand, unless mom and dad are pulling out the wallet and 2. that age range of young adults already think they know everything there is to know, most don't listen to their superiors - why would they listen to a brand? Now the 18-24 age range has gotten out of that 'adolescent' phase, more than likely has had a job or is currently employed which they are more open to engage with brands because generally, if they want something, they have the income to go get it for themselves.

@SMOman2010
@SMOman2010

@Peter_Joseph - You are the statistic not the exception, at 16 years old and you don't engage with brands online. The numbers don't lie, thanks for the comment! My recent post Optimize Your Video Marketing Strategy

Anne
Anne

The points you enumerated are so true. I think brands should put out something that is worth saving up for from allowances and such (for 12-17 yr. olds). My recent post Young Rebel T-shirt

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