Beyond the cold hard stats that are spewed across the web, Andrew Watts’ “A Teenager’s View on Social Media,” is the first thorough (be it subjective) observation of social media platforms from a teen’s point of view. Watts makes a number of points that many of us are probably not all that surprised by — we know that Facebook is dead to teens, that Twitter is confusing, and that everyone loves Instagram and Snapchat.
After reading Andrew Watts’ blog post, I decided to write down a few observations of my own on the state of social for teens.
It seems that Instagram has become a social media oasis for teens. Facebook flooded with family members, gossip news articles, and the same old boring advertisements, Instagram came through and tossed out a life preserver. They provided a platform that was void of spammy links and that kept advertising to a minimum (advertising is still only available to a select few Instagram partners and are typically simple and focused on telling a story) . It is also still seen as “hip” and “cool” as it lacks the presence of older generations. To put it as Watts does, Instagram is less commercialized and more focused on content than most social media platforms out there, making it more appealing to teens.
Then we have Snapchat, a relatively new yet extremely popular social media platform among teens. Similarly to Instagram, Snapchat does not contain links and ads are limited, as they can only be viewed if chosen by the user. It attracts teens through stories and popularizing the “now.” It is becoming clear that teens are much more interested in the ephemeral these days: capturing a brief moment in time, sharing it, and then moving on.
Based on these two observations, it would seem that teens are moving away from the commercialized social properties that they see as “awkward family dinner parties” inundated with boring content. They are now seeking out platforms in which capture moments that tell a story about themselves, unabashedly.
What does this mean for marketers and brands?
Given the transition from commercialized social platforms (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) to storytelling content properties (Instagram and Snapchat), marketers should focus on the latter when targeting teens.
As I concluded, teens have flocked to these platforms looking for spaces where they can share their stories with others. This gives marketers and brands the opportunity to participate and share their own stories — providing behind-the-scenes look at the brand and how it operates — ultimately transforming the brand into an entity that teens can connect with. These new connections will hopefully lead to brand advocacy and an increase in overall brand awareness.
In order to make these meaningful connections, there needs to be a serious focus on the content. Watts, and other teens like him, want to engage with quality content that is relatable, meaningful, and “cool” to them. Even more, they want content that tells a story.
The goal here is to become part of the uniform: to become one with the teen culture. They are emphatic about the now and sharing moments happening this very second. Marketers and brands can follow suit by becoming just as transparent in telling their story.