Current Trends In Teens And Social Media Use

February 17, 2014

The trends with teenagers and social media are an important topic with marketers. Teens are a fast-moving demographic whose tastes and behaviors change with the fads. This makes marketing to teenagers a bit perplexing. Just when you mastered Facebook a new report comes out that teens are leaving Facebook  in droves.

The trend has as much to do with what teens find “cool” as it does with what activities they enjoy online. Plus, they’re among the top age groups using smart mobile devices, forcing social media platforms to adapt or be left behind. To figure out what’s going on with teenagers and social media these days, it’s important to understand where they’re hanging out online. After all these kids are going to be consumers with buying power in a few short years, and you need to be waiting for them when they arrive.


This app was made for mobile, partly the reason it’s so popular among teens. Users can take a photo, record a video, and add text or drawings to embellish the content. Then, they can send it along to a designated group of individuals that they intend the message to reach. The message disappears after ten seconds making it difficult to share beyond the intended recipient. Those screen shots that slip through SnapChat’s safeguards result in a notification to the sender. Teens enjoy the privacy and exclusivity SnapChat lends to mobile socializing.


Those teenagers who are spending time on Instagram haven’t entirely left Facebook, as the company owns this photo-sharing platform. Not only are youth of today posting “selfies” and images of their friends, however. These teens are sharing pictures of their favorite foods, fashion, and places they visit. Plus, they’re commenting on and liking friend’s photos. Many experts believe that the purchase of Instagram by Facebook was the company’s answer to capturing the teen generation, while at the same time confronting the social media world that’s become increasingly mobile.


Pheed is the perfect example of what teenagers are doing with social media when they aren’t using Facebook. With over 80% of its user profiles falling within the 14-25 year old age demographic, this app gained in popularity due to its variety of multi-media tools. For instance, teens can livestream their activities at any given point while spending time online. Pheed is a social network built first on a mobile framework, with the ability to share images, text and audio in addition to video with followers. Currently available on iOS and Android.


This social media application has boomed among users aged 16-19, which is significant because WeChat relies on a more insulated sharing structure. Contrary to Facebook’s methodology of connecting and sharing with friends, WeChat is a more personalized experience that focuses on more direct communications. Users chat via an instant messaging platform that’s similar to the online site developed by WeChat’s parent company, TenCent. With the continued growth of mobile usage, WeChat is expected to see enormous growth.


Whisper, the “anonymous” app where you can bond with others about your candid confessions, is totally different altogether. How does Whisper work? You type a message and the app try’s to find an image that matches the meaning. The result is an image with text overlaid, visually similar to Internet memes. Your confession is posted to a public feed where strangers can see it, like it, and post a reply. Or, they can strike up a conversation with you via private message. Your posts aren’t linked to your identity, so you can be completely open about what’s going on in your life.

So what marketers?

When asked the question, are teens still on Facebook? My answer is, they just aren’t using it as much. Teens are not afraid to experiment with other newer apps and they can be fickle. There are countless other social networks that can tell us what teenagers are doing, and they will continue to come and go.

I believe Facebook has some staying power. Facebook is more than a social network, it’s a technology embedded in the broader online experience. We use Facebook Connect to log into other social networks or create an account to shop online retailers. We click the Like button on a cute blouse and blogs we read. Facebook has a presence outside of Facebook to index your interests, products and other web pages with Open Graph. Then consider the built in features these other apps provide to post outside content to Facebook (such as Pinterest or Instagram).

My second response is, so what?

Teens were not the early adopters to push Twitter mainstream. It was tech savvy adults.

Teens are not the majority of users on Pinterest (which by the way gets over 1.36 million daily visitors). It’s adult women 24-44 years old with an annual household income of $100,000.

Teens are not the primary demographic of LinkedIn. Yet this is one of the most valuable publicly traded social media companies on the stock market.

What I do know is teenagers and social media is that they are early adopters. They’re mobile. They want their privacy and they want to express themselves in creative ways to people THEY choose to network with exclusively. Sounds kind of high school doesn’t it?

The thing to keep in mind is that they will soon be adult consumers. By that time they will probably no longer be sending naked selfies with SnapChat, if it still exists. They will graduate to platforms that match their life stage. In today’s environment some would become mommy bloggers, many would create a LinkedIn profile to job hunt, and most would login to Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends as the move on and grow apart.

It’s important for marketers to understand how the next generation uses technology. Like mobile, these technologies will define our digital marketing roadmap. Brands can begin building relationships with the next generation now, so that by the time they’re a bona fide consumer these same people will have grown a preference for their products. You can bet that they won’t be like the prospects you’re selling to today, so plan to adapt and adjust your social marketing strategy accordingly. Better to evolve over time than to wake up to find you need an overhaul, when it might be too late. 


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  • Reply Justin Belmont March 24, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Although Prose Media doesn’t usually serve the teen demographic, I appreciate your emphasis on the attention that should be paid to teens, even if they are not your target audience. You’re right in saying that they could be our future customers, and it is definitely beneficial to stay up-to-date with social media.

    • Reply Melonie Gallegos March 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Keeping up to speed in digital marketing is part of the job. Thanks for reading Justin!

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