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9 digital marketing tips for connecting with teens

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Sept. 26, 2014
Marketing experts share their tips on how and where to reach the lucrative teenage consumer market in the highly fragmented mobile social universe.

"As young adults leave the 'old' world of Facebook for the newer spaces of Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram, brands need to take their marketing strategies to these platforms as well," Lauksays. Marketing on social media sites has an added benefit: "Brands can add links to pictures of their products that allow viewers to purchase the product on the spot."

Also consider posting content on "social commerce sites where users curate and share, such as, and," says Mahogany Beckford, director of marketing at Schmid Manufaktur, a German boutique footwear company with an international clientele. The benefit of sharing on these sites is "they are very visual sites that let your audience do the speaking for you."

4. Make them feel special. "Teens are constantly searching for affirmation and their 15 minutes in the spotlight," says McMullen. And often "a simple social engagement is all it takes to make them feel special." Sharing their photos on your Web or social sites (with their permission) or "liking, favoriting retweeting or commenting on one of their posts will definitely bring their attention to your brand." And if they have lots of followers and "are an influencer, a follow can go a long way."

5. Ramp up promotions and outreach efforts to coincide with peak teen shopping seasons. May and June, for example, are peak shopping months for teens, says Beckford. "There are many events during these months -- proms, graduation -- where it matters that teens look nice," she says. "Late summer is another biggie because it's back to school time." So gear promotions, sales, rollouts and marketing efforts to take advantage of these peak teen shopping periods.

6. Make sure your messaging is age appropriate. "If you are trying to sell to teens, use teens [to help create your campaigns] and make the creative aimed at teens," says Katelyn Lohr, the 13-year-old founder of Freetoes. "If you are trying to hit too broad of a range you lose us." For example, "if you use a 13-year-old girl on a product that is clearly for 8 to 12-year-olds, you just lost that 13-year-old and older demographic," she explains. Similarly, "even though teens are typically in a hurry to grow up, they don't want 'old ladies' [women over the age of 25] trying to tell them what is cool."

7. Skip the hard sell -- and don't talk down to them. "Don't blatantly sell to me," says Lohr. "Lifestyle ads that include a product are more effective than product-driven ads," she says. "We want to see the product -- shoes, hats, cloths, accessories -- being used and looking great, not be told how great the product is."


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