Impacting the Social Youth

Remember these rites of passage – from tricycles to tweendom; from teenager to (GULP) adulthood.

Sure, we were shaped by the brands and media around us. I still have my Bass penny loafers – purchased AFTER seeing Sixteen Candles; and those ankle-zipper Guess jeans. I treasure those articles (and brands) to this day.  As a teen, media was an MTV music video, Atari’s Frogger, a mixed tape on a Sony® Walkman radio – all leaving an impression albeit mostly passive.

Add social to that media and, friends, we have a new milestone to manage and learn from as marketers. Right up there with your first kiss, getting your drivers permit, you now get to join Facebook, Twitter and interface with the global community. That’s heavy stuff for a 16-year old.

Recently  The New York Times offered an interesting framing for social media in the development of today’s youth.  The social side of a teen’s emotional path to adulthood remains the same as it did for us.  But, as this article suggests, it’s the engagement power of these social mediums that broadcasts how a teen is growing up – for the world to see.

What are the implications for today’s marketers?

Yes, brands have a huge opportunity when it comes to targeting teens in the social space. At the same time, it’s also important that we understand that it is our duty to ensure the impressions and conversations created are done so responsibly. Doing so leads to greater brand affinity now and in the future.

Pamela is Partner/Director of the Midwest Brand and Food Practice and serves as the North American Director of Youth Marketing for the agency’s Youth Movement specialty. Most recently she and her team partnered with to provide insights on how the most influential teens use social media. The research was released at the Ypulse Youth Marketing Mash Up in the late spring of 2010.