There are 38 million teens in the US. They comprise 25% of the population and by 2020 they will make up 40% of consumers. Every brand wants to market to them. Nonprofits want to cultivate them. And, teens just want to be heard.
A teen sees 130,000+ marketing images a year, and that number’s quickly increasing. While teens today face many of the same challenges we did trying to figure out our identities, they’re growing up in a super-connected, fast-paced tech world that’s constantly evolving. This generation faces an enormous amount of pressure to consume a ton of info, so they tend to sort and process content through an 8 second filter. To do this they rely on what’s trending on social media, as well as trusted curators (their friends) and influencers within their community. You can check out some of the influencers that many teens follow, like Ingrid Nilsen, Bethany Mota, Lilly Singh, and Phil DeFranco.
So, how do you build community with teens when you aren’t one? Here are three tips from a two-hour workshop we conducted during the Summit on Jewish Teens.
1. Get Out of Your Bubble.
You need to get out of your bubble and take the time to understand where teens are coming from, how they view the world, and the apps they view it through. You may have developed your vision for your brand, product, or program, but you can’t sell that to teens through your own eyes. To be successful, you must tell your brand’s story through teens’ experiences.
2. Your Brand = Nothing About Us Without Us.
Make your brand largely influenced by teens’ experiences and something they will want to share. Make them the hero of your story. And make it jealous-worthy.
Here’s an example from DoSomething.org on Snapchat: Their mission aimed at youth is to make the world suck less. Their 2.5 million teen members tackle campaigns that impact every cause, from poverty to violence to the environment to literally everything else that will make the world a better place. Each of their campaigns gives young people a clear call to action that never requires money, an adult, or a car, and their brand is always conveyed through teens sharing their experiences.
3. Treat them as your VIP Production Partners.
Teens aren’t just using social media to chat with their friends via text. Teens are big content producers – creating and editing videos, doing their own live streams, snapping and curating photographs, and documenting their lives. Remember “Nothing About Us Without Us.”
DoSomething.org is a great example of how a nonprofit consistently uses their teen audience as production partners in their videos, on Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
Looking for more tips on what’s trending with teens? Check out our presentation below.