Teens are the next generation of independent decision makers and, as fast adopters of technology, their networks set the model for the future of social networking and lead the pack for the up and coming popular devices and platforms. For this reason, analysts are continually studying this cohort’s behavior to help guide marketing plans and platforms for brand adoption.

Since teens’ actions are so important, marketers try to get ahead of the trends and predict what teens are drawn to. As a result, there are many speculative rumors about what will beat out the incumbent social media platforms.

In January, Facebook CFO, David Ebersman said that the social networking site had seen “a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens,” which sparked a flood of stories. Researchers at Princeton forecasted that Facebook will lose 80% of their user base by 2017; news articles predicted that Snapchat will replace Facebook; and, even, President Obama said that teens “don’t use Facebook anymore.”

But these headlines are often overblown because they’re based on relative decline or over hyped expectations. Two new studies – one by Forrester and one by Niche – reveal the bigger picture when it comes to teen’s social media and communications preferences and we, at Percolate, want to make sure you’re getting the right information.

Who really owns the social space

With 82% of high school graduates text messaging multiple times times a day, it is evident that this demographic still places a high premium on technological communication with friends and family. However, the fear that known social media networks will lose out to new platforms is relatively unfounded.Teens Apps Blog Post Data-3.001

87% of surveyed high school seniors are on Facebook and the site was number one for this age group in both total adoption and daily usage. Additionally, 57% of teenaged Facebook users agreed that they use Facebook more than any other social site.

51% of high school seniors use Instagram at least once a day and 82% go on Youtube at least a few times a week, giving the site the most widespread usage amongst this group. These numbers are not shocking given that Instagram has 60M photos uploaded daily and Youtube boasts an astounding 2.7 million videos watched per minute.

Surprisingly, 45% of teens do not use Twitter – which signifies that while this network might be popular amongst celebrities, news outlets and brands, it does not engage teens as well as other social networks.

In terms of messengers, Snapchat was the most popular with 65% of the surveyed teens using it and 46% using it daily. Facebook messenger the second most popular with a quarter of teens communicating on it everyday. This was an interesting statistic as Facebook is over 10 years old and Snapchat is not even 3. Snapchat went viral because of it’s use of mobile and it was the first online tool that let users share something, and then have it become untraceable.

The messaging apps, like YikYak and Whisper, that most thought were popular and raising interest amongst teens have yet to gain the same traction as the long standing sites. Both of these apps have less than 5% teens on them, but it is good to keep an eye on them as they continue to raise funding and grow.

What this means for marketers

One reason why newer social media sites, such as Google+ and Vine, have not been able to break into the Facebook market share is that teens have spent years amassing a profile, creating a curated self-portrait of sorts, and they do not want to recreate that from scratch with a new platform.

Facebook’s universal presence has also created an unsurpassable community that allows teenagers to connect with everyone they know – from other teenagers to adults – and it will require a compelling, new approach before another platform can create this kind of network. On our Speakeasy blog, JD Beebe, Community Manager at Spartan Race, described Facebook as, “at the helm of the social ecosystem.”

Therefore, as a marketer, this means that you should not give up on what has been proven to be successful. Contrary to the rumors and fears by many, these sites are not going anywhere. They have carved out a space for themselves that has made them invincible.

In terms of the future of content marketing though, we see that teenagers are concentrating their social media presence to a few sites and within those they are logging on multiple times a day. This makes it easier than ever for marketers to achieve extensive adoption, but the quality of their messaging has to be customized to the individual if you want to beat out the competition for these teens’ time and attention.

As David Ogilvy, founder of the world famous ad agency, once said, “Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”

The social media sphere is evolving rapidly and teens are at the forefront of this growth. It is important to know what new platforms they are using and understand their adoption preferences, as it all affects the future of marketing. No one wants to be left in the dust, which is why we’re trying to help you stay ahead of the curve and prepare for what lies ahead.


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