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