Today’s adolescents can neither recall nor relate to a pre-internet world, much less a world devoid of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
So, is social media marketing a surefire way for businesses to reach this age group? And, perhaps more importantly, how might social media factor into teens’ buying habits as they enter adulthood?
To answer those questions, we need to understand the role technology plays in teenage lives—particularly in terms of how they use it to relate to their friends, family and the world around them. A recent study conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab provides some provocative insights.
Among the findings:
- Teens preferred texting to placing phone calls, as texting is a way of communicating privately with someone while publicly doing something else, such as waiting in line or hanging out with a group of friends. They tended to view voice phone calls as something adults do.
- Although the percentage of cell phone owners aged 13 is about equal to that of 17 year-olds, the younger teens showed a strong preference for smartphones over regular cell phones. (Mobile marketers take note.)
- Teens often use social media to share significant life situations. For example, updating their Facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship” or vice versa is often the way teens officially announce the beginning or demise of a romantic relationship.
Yet, when it comes to making friends, meeting new potential romantic partners and maintaining relationships, the study also found that young adults still highly preferred face time to Facebook. In addition, teens in the survey showed an understanding of when other forms of communication, such as email, would be both preferable and appropriate.
Market research firm Lab42 recently conducted an even more in-depth study of teen social media use, looking specifically at how teens and their parents interact on Facebook.
In the infographic summarizing the results of its research, Lab42 shows that nearly half (45 percent) of the teen-parent Facebook friend requests were initiated by the teen, and that 54 percent of children write on their parents’ walls.
Clearly, the teens in this study demonstrate a social media comfort level that spans the age groups. Will this willingness to communicate via social media platforms persist into adulthood? There’s no reason to think it won’t, even though the devices and platforms used are sure to evolve as today’s adolescents, technology and social media mature.
“Behaviors are dynamic, and shift as people enter different life stages,” said Ann-Charlotte Kornblad, Senior advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab. “As they get older, teenagers start to use communication tools in the same way as adults. They will continue to use ‘their’ tools such as texting, Facebook and video chat, but at the same time, they understand the need to use voice and e-mail as they move into the next stage of their lives.”