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Clueless how you can get your ideas to spread on social media? Well, why don’t you ask your teenage son or daughter?
That age-old saying about teenagers being digital natives are true. They eat, live and breathe digital.
Also known as Generation C (for Connected), they have an intuitive feel for all things social, digital and mobile. What I found especially intriguing about teens is how engaged they are on social media.
A teenager with 500 odd followers on Instagram can amass an incredible 200 plus likes per photo. That’s a stratospheric 40% level of engagement! Even less popular teens with 150 followers can rack up over 70 or 80 likes per post, ie 50% engagement.
What’s equally amazing is how effortless their posts are. Seemingly banal photos like selfies, food, celebrities, and cutesy stuff ring up huge number of likes and comments.
What lessons can we learn in influencer marketing from our teens?
The Harder You Try…
The first thing I’ve observed is that sweat and toil are eeeky to teens. Youths these days share photos and text with minimal formatting.
They invent their own weird hashtags. They ignore all the “best practices” in Instagram marketing. They don’t care if their photos are poorly taken.
Trying too hard to be cool is uncool. Trying to be hip is lame. In the world of teens, effortless ease is the the name of the game.
Have you observed how teens rib and tease each other? They do not hold anything back. They slime and mime, often filled with grime.
While adolescent antics may ruffle the feathers of their parents, we know that they value truth and transparency (see “The 3 Ts of the Social Age“). Their razor sharp senses help them to smell fakes from a mile away.
To win their hearts, you need to be uncomfortably honest and open. Which means revealing your warts and all, should the occasion call for it.
With their propensity to be frank with each other, teens seldom worry about the norms of social etiquette. Unlike mask wearing adults, teens are less inhibited by the consequences of what they post online.
While this can sometimes lead to disastrous outcomes, it also makes what they say refreshingly original. Nobody trades witty insults like teens, and while adults may reel in horror at their audacity, we are also haplessly drawn to their unbridled creativity and imagination.
Unabashed and gawky, adolescents are often awkward. Heck, I was a terribly bookish and geeky dork in my teenage years too (actually I still am).
Caught in the interstitial space between childhood and adulthood, teens find a need to express themselves in an authentic manner. Unlike adults, they are more willing to mix and match to see what works and what doesn’t.
This spirit of experimentation is also evident in the way they use social media. If a particular post works, they may choose to post more of it. If it doesn’t, they may try something else.
Intrigued by Interestingness
Curiosity may kill the cat, but it doesn’t terrorise the teen. Not in most cases anyway.
Drawn to novelty and newness, teens have an insatiable curiosity to be the first to break the news. They are bored with the status quo. They are tired of the tyranny of the daily grind. They are attracted to stuff that are unique or unusual.
With their digital ears and noses constantly on the ground, teens are more likely to pick up an emerging trend and to spread it. I guess this penchant for the novel is why teens are often trend setterss.
Memes are Teens
In a similar fashion, Teens are huge on memes. They catch on quickly to fast spreading fads and tastes in fashion, humour, and pop culture.
From music to fashion to food to places to chill out at, adolescents always lead the pack. They catch on to new waves faster than a speeding bullet.
By the time the Tsunami hits fuddy duddies like us, the teens are already searching for the next wave.
Sharing is Caring
Close knit, constantly communicative, and highly socially networked, teens are great connectors (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point) and sneezers (Purple Cow by Seth Godin).
If there is a fabulous sale or a rare opportunity to meet their pop idols, they would be the first to get the word out to their circle of friends.
Ditto for any celebrity gossip, news, juicy details on each other, and other trending information.
This keenness to share is why teens can help to get the news out far better than anybody else can. Don’t believe me? Just ask your 15 year old!
As they grow, mature and find their footing in society – and life – teens place a great emphasis on friendships. They value strong relationships with their peers, and have no qualms in showing their affections for each other online.
One of the 6 weapons of influence (see Who’s Your Influencer), reciprocity is key driver of influence. Unlike adults who tend to be more cynical and calculative, teens are a lot more driven by the need for reciprocity.
Time is on Their Side
This is so obvious but I have to write it anyway.
Teens spend a lot of time online. From chatting on Whatsapp and Snapchat, posting photos on Instagram to tweeting (and retweeting), they are the new rulers of the airwaves.
While school work can certainly pile up these days, you can’t expect a teen to be continually studying all the time.
When you are plugged into the social web as often and as continually as teens are, you will naturally engage more heavily with your peers.
Art of the Tease
Last but certainly not least, teens are covert operators of the art of influence. They are highly adept in the art of the tease, snapping selfies in unsual angles, and sometimes chatting in a unique and almost indecipherable code.
In the world of marketing psychology, mystique has been identified as one of the seven triggers of fascination. By unveiling something a little at a time, teens play on the innate curiosity of their fellow teens to want to find out more.
Are there other tips that we can learn from teenagers? I’d also love to hear any alternative views – especially from teenagers who may feel that I’m just talking nonsense.