Connect with Youth through Digital Marketing

Why positive digital campaigns are valuable to connect with youth audiences. Three best practice examples

Since the dawn of time, teenagers have had it pretty rough.

The world is changing, everyone seems to annoy them and they are just trying to desperately figure out where they fit in the big wide world. The pressure that teens feel on their shoulders doesn’t stop there, they have to think about what they look like, who they are friends with, pressure put on them by their parents, how they are doing in school and trying to find that perfect job when they finally leave school, just to name a few worries from their burden bucket.

As a digital marketer you need to step back from all of this and think of your role, do you work for a teen brand? Are you a teen publisher? Is your company targeting young people? It really doesn’t matter who you are when you are dealing with communications with teenagers, because these young people will literally be the face of tomorrow and they are the generation that WILL shape our world whether you like it or not. So why should we not deliver them true value through your various digital communications.

Let’s begin covering of what they’re doing, and have a look at some brands that are really thriving and implementing some great projects in the youth space.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s no secret that teens are slowly inching away from Facebook and investing their time in places such as Kik, Snapchat and Instagram – I’m sure you notice what these all have in common? There are all places that their parents aren’t.
  • Most care more about their smartphone than their family – sad but true – teen girls more so than boys
  • Teens are tending to favour their ‘online presence’ more than their offline one as it tends to show them in a more favourable light
  • Both girls AND boys care about how they are perceived in terms of weight and fitness, often going to extremes to achieve the ‘look’
  • Experimentation is big on the agenda, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll right? These decisions weigh heavy on them and there is a lot of peer pressure
  • Getting a clear picture of exactly what they want to do when they leave school and the marks they are going to need to get there creates huge amounts of stress for young people across this blue and green globe of ours
  • Job stability and buying a house IS something that young people care about, they aren’t silly, and they know the word ‘stability’ fell out of the employment vocab some time back. They have indeed connected the dots about what this means for how they will financially ever afford a house (this one in particular blows my mind – I am 24 and can’t bring myself to think about buying a house because it’s mind bogglingly expensive!)

So, what does this mean for you and your digital communications with youth?

Well, it means anything you do to help them positively tackle ANY of these daunting issues immediately creates a connection that is simply valuable in all senses of the word.

Here are some examples that stuck in my head because they really speak to youth and the troubles that they face. Not all are recent, because let’s be honest, digital campaigns that really support and uplift teens can be a bit thin on the ground at the best of times.

1. The ME Project

This one isn’t recent, but it struck me as a great piece of digital work with a solid teen insight. School kids generally have little to no idea what they are going to do when they leave school – and it scares them, a lot.

This campaign by 303 (now 303LOWE) helped create direction for teens and what they wanted to do when they leave school, in this case with a specific push for University of Edith Cowan University at the heart of it all.

This project was done by engaging school-age users through a fully interactive website in which they are asked to post images that they find inspiring. The users are encouraged to select images that truly reflect their tastes and hobbies such as their bedroom, study area or simply their favourite place to hang out.

Once the images are uploaded, the users can then choose to tag relevant items within the images themselves, or leave that up to ECU to tag. ECU then provide possible course matches to the tagged items, giving potential students insights into career options they may not have been aware of.
Simple, smart and a campaign that really creates a strong connection between young people and their career path worries in a positive and relevant way.

2. The Chance – Nike

Nike launched a campaign called ‘The Chance’ with the goal of inspiring young footballers across the globe and enabling those same players to maximise their potential. (Obviously promoting the brand was also on the agenda).

The campaign was based around the insight that if you are a promising footballer and desperately want to turn pro, but have turned 16 and still have not signed for a club – you career is basically finished before it even started. These young players continue to slip through the net, not because they lack talent, but because of their sheer quantity of quality young players trying to get their lucky break into the sport.

So Nike cleverly created a Facebook App that turned the social network into a worldwide scouting platform. With over 150,000 aspirational young footballers engaging with it from over 55 countries. The top 100 were rewarded with a place in the ‘Chance Final’ at the hallowed home of the prestigious FC Barcelona. From here 16 players rose from obscurity bang into the professional playing field.
Really inspiring campaign that not only helped young footballers who felt like their ship had effectively ‘sailed’ renew their faith in their talent and maximise their potential, but also really help gain a competitive edge in the youth generation for the Nike brand. By focusing on the positives, the campaign really generated some uplifting content through a great digital campaign.

3. ‘Legend’ Drink Driving Campaign

This beauty came out of New Zealand a while back, but it is still well worth the mention. This campaign launched by NZ Transport Agency grabbed onto the insight that 82% of drink-driving crashes involve young male drivers (Under 24). A further 38% of the young drivers are Maori.

The campaign took the approach that more often than not, drink drivers are good people who have just made bad choices – lack of planning and the numerous times they have successfully gotten home whilst under the influence of alcohol which creates a false sense of security of not being caught.
Young males are not big on telling their mates NOT to do something, and this campaign spoke to that insight by highlighting that yes, it’s hard to tell a mate not to drive, but having the guts to do so is worth it.

This is a great campaign that helped young people tackle an issue that they often struggle with, speaking out. The viral cleverly does this in a way that really SPEAKS to the target audience and positively displays a process that all young people go through when weighing up whether to tell their mates to be safe.

As digital marketers, creating campaigns that focus on the positives and helping to guide young people through a bit of a muddled journey is never easy. Thinking out of the box and creatively packaging up some valuable guidance or a solution to their numerous pressures will not only help them, but it will create a solid connection to push sales and brand loyalty that is more effective and long-term then just a sell, sell, sell approach.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear about our own positive youth focused campaign as part of the Young and Well CRC.

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