Social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are all essential for marketers and advertisers to use in order to reach the teen demographic. Gen Z literally accounts for billions of dollars worth in yearly purchasing power, so it’s vital for brands to reach these young consumers if they want to survive in the coming years.
Social media has proved to be the most effective way to cater to teens, but it also comes with a slew of unwanted side effects. Increased social media usage by young people leads to things like low self-esteem and heightened experiences of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
With this in mind, how can advertisers utilize the benefits of social media without contributing to the negative impact it has on youth consumers? All marketers have a responsibility to foster growth in the next generation, not destructive habits. So, here are three great ways to use social media to promote your product without hurting teenage users.
1. Be Progressive
Gen Z is shaping up to be one of the most liberal groups of people in history. Issues like sustainability, gender equality, race, and political involvement are all incredibly important to today’s teenagers. For good advertisers, this is great news! It means they can use positive teen values to help market their product and build brand loyalty.
Brand purpose marketing is a great way to do this. In brand purpose marketing, companies show they care about more than just money by pledging to help with some humanitarian cause. It might mean donating a small amount of net profit to a charity, or even creating an original outreach project like Budweiser’s disaster relief campaign or Dove’s Self Esteem Project.
Both these campaigns prove to consumers that, even though they’re large, multi-million dollar companies, they still give back to the community. This is a great strategy to use on social media, where teenagers are likely to engage with posts.
Rather than using influencers to advertise products and promote images of unreachable standards, marketers can include post tags and links in their account bios to charities and outreach programs that Gen Zers will appreciate. These kinds of efforts will foster lasting brand loyalty into the future, and contribute something good to society!
2. Give Teens a Choice
If there’s one thing I know about teenagers, it’s that they crave independence. Tell a teenager they have to do something, and watch them do the exact opposite. Due to their developing brains, teens crave almost nothing more than autonomy. This is a crucial takeaway for advertisers keen to make an impact on social media.
Rather than force teenagers to watch advertisements that fill their brain with unneeded, harmful imagery, try to convince teens to learn about your product by choice. Drawing on my last tip, this might mean an Instagram post or a Tweet about a relevant social issue with an associated product in your tag or photo caption.
Hooking teen interests like this will make them more likely to follow up on your account and explore your product freely. Then, they feel like they’re making their own decision about what to consume rather than being bombarded with ads they can’t skip or scroll past.
This is a key advertising technique that doesn’t rely on teenage vulnerability, but instead reinforces their power to choose and decide their own interests!
3. Honesty is the Best Policy
Teenagers aren’t stupid. They can tell when marketers are only trying to pique their interests to turn a profit. Rather than spend thousands of dollars to convince teens you’re “cool,” it’s sometimes best to come outright and focus on your product, rather than associated concepts and emotions.
By doing this, you aren’t reinforcing negative trends that teens often encounter on social media, but you’re still showing the benefits of your product.
Look at Clearasil for a prime example. Their Droga 5 ad campaign took a humorous approach to honesty, admitting to viewers the company didn’t “get” teens, but truly understood teenage acne. It was an incredibly effective way to cater to teens without contributing to the negative sides of advertising.
This is an easy approach to take to social media. Instead of disguising your promotions in harmful content that teens will internalize, take a more straight-up approach to advertising your product. Teens will appreciate the transparency and be more likely to engage in your services!
Social media is a great resource when it comes to fostering brand loyalty in teens. But, unfortunately, many social media trends reinforce harmful behaviors and side effects in the future generation. Advertisers have a responsibility to promote their services ethically and without contributing to these negative trends. The best way to do this is to be honest and respect teens’ need for autonomy and connection.
By catering to positive teenage values and offering independence in advertising, marketers can take their social media campaigns to new heights! I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and that you use them to better not only your own product, but your approach to social media!