Teens are one of the fastest growing demographic on social media and also one of the most engaged. And who could be surprised that this super-social, excitement seeking, fad-following group is a natural match for the 24/7 world of social media?


Proof in the Numbers 

Statistics from Pew Research show 92% of teens go online daily with 24% of them being online “almost constantly.” Social indeed, even without the help of social media platforms these kids are very active communicators – a US teen sends an average of 30 texts per day. Teens are happy to share content they are passionate about, especially as it relates to themselves. Pew Research found 91% of teens post photos of themselves and 84% share information about their interests, such as movies, books and music they like. And where are they hanging out? Despite the rumor that Facebook is now “uncool” with teens, it ranked as one of the most used social media platforms for teens. In fact, 71% of all teens 13-17 use Facebook, followed by 52% using Instagram and 41% on Snapchat.


Successful social media examples

If your target market involves teens and young adults then your marketing mix likely includes social media. Businesses and brands have been quick to serve up content to teens through social media and do so successfully. Here are a few examples and how they resonated with a teen audience.

East Coast frozen yogurt chain, 16 Handles, encouraged its Snapchat followers to snap photos of themselves or their friends eating 16 Handles frozen yogurt. To reward them, 16 Handles sent discount codes ranging from 5% to 100% off. The campaign was a hit, with over 1,400 people participating within the first couple of days.

The Association of Surfing Professionals ASP World Tour uses Snapchat to give its followers inside coverage of the world’s biggest surfing events. During the events, followers get real-time story updates with exciting glimpses of the action. Teens following the event were thrilled to get first-hand photos and news about the competition that they could then share to their friends.

Clothing retailer Forever 21 grabbed the attention of teen girls on Instagram with a campaign inviting them to show their unique style. The campaign encouraged teens to enter a video contest by uploading videos of a dance routine with the Forever 21 campaign hashtag. The winner received a $10,000 scholarship.

Swedish hip hop artist Adam Tensta took advantage of the power of Facebook by creating a Facebook app when launching a new song. When his single “Pass It On” came out, the app only let one fan listen to it at a time. The more people shared, the more they cut the line, thereby encouraging fans to spread the word.



Hallmarks of a Successful Teen Campaign

Why did these campaigns work? The each shared some common ideas that you can implement in your own teen-focused social media.

1. Share inside tips and up-to-the-minute news of what teens like. Teenagers live to know what is going on and be on top of trends. Snapchat leverages this desire with snaps and stories that disappear after 24 hours, encouraging teens to stay engaged. Teens like to know it first, and they like to share that they knew it first – hence lots of sharing and viral marketing for brands. Tease out big announcements and offer exclusive info to grab and keep their attention.

2. Let teens show themselves and give their opinions. Selfies – if you have ever let a teenage girl borrow your smart phone for 5 minutes, I need not explain this to you because you inevitably got your phone back with a roll of photos, including various poses of the phone-borrowing-teen. Teens tend to enjoy taking photos and sharing their style, and the social media world is ripe with opportunities to let them do this. Teens also like to share opinions, and enjoy voting for social contests and games. Smart brands encourage this visual and written feedback with questions, contest entries and recognition for teens that contribute photos and comments on products.

3. Keep it raw and informal. Be honest, the first time you watched a Snapchat story from a brand you surely thought it was a joke. The camera may have been shaky, the sound was not polished and lines seemed unrehearsed. In fact, it looks like someone impulsively picked up their phone and started filming. Almost like teens might do, right? Bingo. The social media content aimed at young people is raw and informal and that works for this audience. The edgy, live-broadcasting style makes the brand more approachable and authentic. Much like the informal style teens use with each other. Campaigns that are “keeping it real” are more likely to connect with teens.

So if you need to reach a teen audience but are not a teen, don’t worry. You don’t need to think like a teen to create a successful campaign, you just need to understand and adjust to their super-cool online behaviors.


Marketing Staircase Newsletter


Social media marketing and advertising is constantly changing! Want a little help staying in the know? We keep up on the latest trends so you don't have to. Sign up to get our latest articles, tips, and strategies sent to your inbox. It's not hype - it's help. We promise.

You have Successfully Subscribed!