Nothing tantalizes marketers like the purchasing power of young consumers. We all know how fluent young people are with social media platforms, so it’s easy to conclude that interacting with them in these channels is logical, right?


A total of 46% of kids, ages 12 to 17, told Forrester in a recent survey that they “don’t expect companies to have a presence using social tools.” Is this an eye opener or what? Just because adults use social media platforms to interact with brands doesn’t mean kids do.

Kudos to Forrester for its  “Understanding the Intricate Digital Behaviors of Young Consumers” study. These findings are revealing, and kids' brand marketers had better take note of them.

Forrester’s findings regarding these 12- to 17-year-olds highlight that they are:

  • Online all of the time. They have Internet access via computer and mobile phones.

  • On social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to post updates and to converse with friends, not to create content. They are less likely to blog or share thoughts and opinions in detail.

  • Use several social media sites; almost 75% of this group use Facebook; 40% use both Facebook and MySpace. And 17% use Twitter, partly because of the influence of celebrities who use Twitter.

  • Use social media to stay connected to friends. Only 25% of them trust brand communication on sites like Facebook. As Forrester put it: “They don’t want to be your friend on Facebook.”

  • Do not want brands to use social media to force themselves into their social groups; they prefer to see approval/brand relationships endorsed by friends in their circles.

  • Only 16% expect companies to use social media to interact with them.

  • 28% expect companies to listen, answer questions, or solve problems promptly when they initiate contact with brands. Kids’ trust has to be earned.

  • Social media sites like Facebook are used to post customer reviews. These conversations among friends yield great insights. And 74% of 12- to 17-year olds are more likely to post their ratings of products and services on social media platforms more than twice as much as on online sites dedicated for that purpose.

  • Love games. Using fun and games to reach kids continues to power brands. Brands that find new ways to engage kids with innovative games win.

All these insights demonstrate that kids are skeptical consumers. They still continue to trust traditional media more than social media where brands are concerned. Smart partnering of traditional outlets with social media they’re attuned to is a huge plus for new marketing campaigns. In short: Kids want to be engaged---but on their terms.

Understanding where kids are and what they’re talking about leads smart marketers to align their brand communication with their current interests rather than starting a new conversation that’s off-trend and potentially seen as invasive.

Advice: Listen, analyze the reviews, don’t push/pull kids in by being where they are, entertain and engage them. Be honest, transparent and real, and kids will come to the brand.

  • What do you think of Forrester’s findings?

  • Do they corroborate what you already know? Are there any new revelations?

  • Which kids’ brands are using new approaches via traditional or social media that are effective now?

I’d love to get your feedback.

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image of Ted Mininni

Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni