Almost half of all American kids 13-17 are online almost constantly, according to Pew Research Center. Their social media of choice? YouTube, followed closely by Snapchat, according to their latest report. Facebook is favored by half and Twitter trails behind at just 32 percent. When asked which they used most often, though, Snapchat inches into the lead over YouTube. 

What's most striking about Pew Research Center's new report, conducted in the spring of 2018, is the proportion of teenagers' use of social media has nearly doubled since their 2014-2015 study on the subject. Part of the reason is more teenagers now have smartphones that enable them to use more apps. As marketers consider which platform to use to reach this audience, it's important to note that Facebook's ratings plummeted from 71 percent from the 2014-2015 to 51 percent. And of those 51 percent who still use it, only 10 percent say they use it most often. Part of the reason is that Facebook was, at one point, the only game in town. That's since changed. 

Businesses and brands that use platforms like YouTube are harnessing the platform's video to share their story. Millennials and Generation Z are demanding businesses take a stand when it comes to social and political issues.

How can businesses do this without alienating customers? They can use YouTube and Snapchat to show these younger and influential consumers how they support issues that are important to them, whether it's being mindful of their environmental footprint or supporting LGBTQ rights.

Upload videos of their customers working on issues they care about whether it's attending rallies or creating videos with content incorporated into the narrative. Interested in reducing our reliance on plastics? Shoot a video of employees or customers asking viewers to get involved in helping to clean up the plastic alongside beaches and waterways. Shoot a follow-up video with that footage and incorporate ways people can organize their own clean-up parties in their communities, even if they don't live near bodies of water.

The key to creating any type of content that will resonate with customers, for outlets including videos for YouTube or stories for SnapChat, is developing an editorial calendar that matches their interests and needs and following through. The plan needs to be thoughtful and considered, not rushed or thrown up there and hoping it sticks.

And if YouTube is where your customers live, businesses need to meet them where they're hanging out. 

Although this report didn't cover other forms of media and it caps their research at 17-year-olds, I do wonder how things like podcasts will be used by this younger audience, especially since they do rely on their phones so heavily. None of the research I've seen so far considers podcasts as popular among younger generations. To be sure, I don't hear teens talking about their favorite podcasts as much as I hear Generation X or older. Still, I wouldn't discount its reach in the coming years, especially as those older teens head off to college or careers soon. 

For now, though, if your business or brand is trying to reach this younger demographic, you need to pay attention to which social media platforms they're using. For now, it seems like YouTube and Snapchat are where they're hanging out.

Published on: Jun 12, 2018