98% of 16 to 24 years olds used social media in the last 3 months. This is higher than any other age group.

Data from ONS 2017. Designed in Piktochart

“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”

– Nelson Mandela

Social media isn’t just a helpful tool for the younger generation. They live and breathe it, in a world where a WiFi connection has become as necessary as running water or electricity. Who are the youth of today? In a nutshell, your potential customers and certainly your customers of the future. Businesses who fail to engage with young people on social media platforms risk being left behind.

Many a time I’ve battled with a client over the benefits of their social media use when the return on investment is much clearer for search and display advertising. With an ad like that, you’re targeting people who are actively engaged or trying to buy, which is brilliant! But young people spend most of their time in a passive state, especially on social media. So you need to use the platform to engage them, and let them get to know you. Then when they do switch on and they’re ready to buy, your products and services become their obvious choice. This is especially the case when they need to involve their parents in their buying decisions.

What Social Media Platform to Use

Source: BBC Newsbeat

Young people use social media very differently to their parents. They’re not on the same platforms, and actively try to avoid spending much time in the same places. If Mum is on Facebook all the time, the young person will not be.

YouTube – This is one of the most popular platforms for reaching younger people. Teenagers especially are avid YouTubers.  A report from Cisco predicts “by 2019 online video will be responsible for 80% of global online traffic”. You should be creating some video content yourself, and filling it with engaging and youthful personalities, when you can. You can also engage with other YouTubers, sending products or offers to carefully selected influencers to help promote your offer. Make sure you ask the YouTuber about their viewer numbers and demographics before deciding who to work with.

Instagram – Is very popular with young people, 59% of young people engage with this medium. It appeals to their creative side and you can quickly capture millennials’ attention with stunning visuals.  Instagram Stories are also a great way to connect with younger users. The marketing benefits of using Instagram are dramatic, according to Hootsuite “75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post.”

Snapchat – In March 2018 a Pew Research Centre survey reported 78% of 18 – 24 year-olds used Snapchat, many of them multiple times a day.  Although they’ve been facing stiff competition from Instagram, and have harmed their own user stats with an unpopular redesign, the platform is still incredibly well used. It’s main appeal is how befuddled ‘grown ups’ are by the platform, meaning their parents are unlikely to be notified of their every move! On the other hand though, it’s marketing tools are challenging to use effectively, and users respond less well to branded content. Snapchat is a tough nut to crack!

Facebook – This is an easy to use, relatable platform.  There has been some debate about whether Facebook is falling out of fashion with young people.  The older generation are increasingly using and seeing the benefits of Facebook but it is still an established platform and remains popular with younger people too.  Facebook Live has helped keep it relevant and this is where it’s at if you want to reach the biggest audience. If you’re running a Facebook Page already, have a look at the demographic stats in your own Insights page. Are you reaching the people you want to? If not, it may be time to rethink your strategy.

Twitter – Half of the younger generation use Twitter and in the UK the majority of users are under the age of 34 (Hootsuite).  If you consider the 3 most followed Twitter users are Katy Perry (109 million ), Justin Bieber (106 million) and Barack Obama (102 million) it gives you a good indication of the demographic engaging with the medium. It appeals because the information is up to date, newsworthy and it’s a great platform for sharing opinion. It’s less popular with teenagers than some of the other options here, but if young adults are your target audience, and you have a regular feed of news-worth content, it can be a great medium for you!

Pinterest – This platform is significantly more popular with women than men.  Users post aspirational lifestyle tips, how to guides, recipes, pictures and shopping galleries. It is a growing platform for businesses and a good way to increase your presence.  If you pin something appealing and of value to your target audience this could increase brand awareness. You can combine your products and services with content from other users into Boards which appeal more broadly and can help get you noticed. Content on Pinterest often continues to be viewed and stay engaging over time, so it’s a great one to use if you can’t reliably produce new content week after week after week.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is widely regarded as a professional setting for older people.  It may not appeal to the younger generation, you may engage them if they are considering working in your field but are unlikely to attract younger customers through this medium.

How to use Social Media?

You don’t need to be on every social media platform – that’s a great way to get overwhelmed and struggle to do make any progress at all. My preference is always to start with your ‘best bet’ platform – where are you and your audience both most comfortable. Work really hard on that one platform for 3 months, and see how quickly you can grow your followers and engagement through focused efforts. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you might think about trying something new, but get really good at working with one platform before you start branching out all over the place.

You need to think about who your audience or target customer is then find a way to appeal to them. Tell stories of people similar to your target audience.  Everyone loves a story, especially if it resonates directly with them. Engage with people by showing them you know and understand them. Use young employees or previous customers as examples and tell their story so the content is relevant for the audience you’re aiming it at.

Choose your hashtags carefully on Twitter and Instagram, but give them a miss on Facebook. The best tags to use are the ones which your customers are using themselves. Follow tags relevant to your customers to see the type of content that’s there, and work out how you can fit in. Make sure to link and comment on posts by other users in the hashtags you want to stay relevant to. If you are engaging in the community around a hashtag, not just broadcasting to it, then your posts will be shown more amongst other people in that same community.

Need a hand?

If you and your team need a workshop session to figure out your strategy, you can grab a copy of the slides I use to deliver this to clients. That’s right, you can have them for free!

If you need a bit of support to deliver the workshop or you want to get into the details, just send me an email, and I’ll be in touch.