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Social media for teens

The future of social media for teens

Posted by tamar.riley | 05 November

Digital technology is both marketing's friend and foe. It's evolving the advertising landscape at a dramatic pace.

With online streaming services like Spotify that allows you to avoid ads, with Sky Plus allowing you to fast forward ads into an indistinguishable blur, radio listening figures in decline, most marketers have invested heavily in social.  And it's no surprise - teenagers today are a mobile-first generation, 44 percent of teenagers were smartphone users in 2013 (eMarketer), and that number is expected to increase to almost 75 percent over the next three years.

This demographic really are the earliest 'early adopters', picking up trends & technology at lightening pace, but then dropping out with the tap of a smartphone. With digital firms developing at such a rapid pace everything can change over night.  (Think back to MySpace - the social media site was bought for $580 million - and sold 5 years later for a mere $35 million).

But which area's of social should brands be focusing on for future investment?

Depends how far you can look into the future- but for many brands Instagrams the short term plan (can we even plan further in advance with these moving parts)?

In Piper Jaffray's latest study roughly three-quarters of American teens reported using Instagram, up from 69% 6 months ago. In a dramatic comparison, just 45% said they use Facebook, a huge dip down from the beginning of the year 72%.

The app has started to run ads from brands including Starbucks, Waitrose, Cadburys, Rimmel, Channel 4, Estee Lauder and Sony Music in the UK.

“We are giving brands an opportunity to sponsor their posts and deliver them to a much wider audience,” Instagram’s global head of business and brand development James Quarles told The Guardian.

“We are starting with brands who already have a very strong presence on Instagram. We want this to be a natural experience, like the way people consume high-quality ads flicking through a magazine.”

But even Instagram need to find their feet and test the water:

“We want to create an environment that’s authentic, transparent and honest. We are trying to be really slow, measured and thoughtful,” said Quarles.

“We are going to go slow, and we are going to learn. At the start, it’s a very slow introduction to the market, to help people understand what it looks like. We’re very much in a learning mode, but we think we’ve struck a great balance in the States.”

For the short term - the opportunity is now available to brands, and a few have boldly taken the leap.

For a long term strategy - how long will Instagram last with ads? It's hard to tell. We simply suggest being agile to these trends.

We're certainly following behaviour and trends closely here at TLC.