It seems like every other month, an article is released that disparages the current state of teen culture, and promptly predicts the collapse of civilization. Luckily, it turns out that rumors of the death of literacy and the downfall of culture as we know it have been greatly exaggerated.
Though sometimes their behavior seems incomprehensible and erratic, teens on the Internet follow the same social rules that have governed teen behavior since time immemorial. In this article, we’ll break down these rules of teen social behavior and explain how each applies to the future of content marketing. Read on!
1. Teens love what’s new, cool, and exclusive
Adults tend to forget that being a teenager is a very complicated time. Unlike adults, teens are in the midst of negotiating their own identity. They are still discovering what makes them unique and interesting and still figuring out what they can offer the world. Most of all, they are locked in a highly-competitive, closed environment: that gladiatorial arena known as high school.
In high school, teens need to do whatever they can to get ahead. It’s important to have a leg up on the competition, and one of the ways you can do that is by being an early adopter of the next Cool New Thing. In the past, this was a skateboard, a Sony Walkman, or Reebok Pumps. Now, it’s apps: Snapchat, Secret, Vine, and Instagram are all teen favorites.
What does this say for content marketers? Content marketers need to be aware of trends and new developments in their fields in order to keep up with the shifting landscape of teen tastes. Likewise, they need to be aware of their role as potential thought leaders: teens are always looking for the next cool thing. Will it be your brand? It’s up to you to tell them.
2. Teens avoid adults whenever they can
How many articles have been written about the impending death of Facebook? To hear them say it, the vultures are circling, Zuckerberg’s trademark blue has darkened to a bruised, morbid black, and teens are leaving the moribund network by the busload, never to return.
Look at a different way, however, and one can see that this is just teens behaving the way they always have. What often goes unmentioned is that, concurrent with the decline of teen Facebook usage, adult usage of Facebook has risen sharply in the past few years. Do you think you would have spent so much time in high school hanging out behind the backstop with your friends if your Grandma and Auntie were there too, swapping apple crumble recipes?
Content marketers in the future would be well-advised to pay close attention to usage trends by age demographic. When adults start to adopt a new social network, it’s a sure sign that teens are going to find somewhere better to be pretty soon. This phenomenon has been called context collapse.
3. Teens eventually become adults
This one is obvious, right? It seems that there is a tendency to to think that, because teens don’t use Facebook now, they will never use Facebook.
But actually, the opposite is true. Believe it or not, teens eventually mature into real, logical, and predictable humans…most of the time. Teens can be drivers of exclusive technologies, but at some point, they also want to integrate themselves into the adult world, and this will involve adapting to and accommodating adult norms. This has happened throughout history, and will continue to happen.
The bottom line
As teens mature, their behaviors and tastes will become easier for marketers to understand. For this reason, content marketers still need to stay on top of trends, but it’s also important that they keep the old skillset sharp: after all, teens are people too!