Kids These Days -- Taking It Easy
Upon getting to author my first article for Engage:Teens, I asked my 14-year-old son, “What is something about teens you would like people to understand?” His response: “We’re lazy, and that’s okay.”
On the surface, it sounds like an inflammatory stereotype and more like an adult misperception than a truth from the mouth of a teenager. Then, I realized that he meant teens today are going to find shortcuts and workarounds, and that’s okay. That doesn’t make them lazy in the derogatory (adult) sense of the word.
Pinned with monikers that include Generation M (for multitasking) and Generation ADD, today’s teens are about expedient utility.
- Learning. Ask any teacher today, from elementary to high school, about the importance of technology in learning, and you’ll probably hear it’s a valuable ally because it fits
with the way kids take in information. At our house, YouTube videos are part of any study session, and online search is preferred to navigating a textbook. In our high school, online video is a
favorite tool in “blended classes” that allow for two days a week of self-directed learning.
- Socializing.A picture truly is worth a thousand words
if you’re a teen social media user. The platforms to watch are image- and video-centric, including Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat. According to the mobileYouth Show, Instagram recorded one
million teen downloads in a single month last year. Even if Instagram experienced a user hit with its new terms of service, don’t expect it to lose traction with this audience. A recent survey
by Posterous founder Garry Tan, in conjunction with Survata, found more teens (61%) using Tumblr than Facebook for several hours per week. The study also showed more teens than young adults regularly
using Instagram and Snapchat.
- Communicating. We’ve all heard a teen say (not text) OMG or LOL. These shortcuts are part of their vocabulary, even seeping into
their writing at school. A study by Pew Internet indicated that nearly two-thirds of teens (64%) incorporate some informal styles from their text-based communications into their schoolwork, despite
recognizing it could create a less than favorable impression.
- Accomplishing.Ever heard of SixPackShortcuts? No? Ask a teen boy and I’ll bet you’ll get a different answer. Its promise of rapid achievement and its video instruction model are resonant with the crew shooting to look like the latest Abercrombie model.
Bill Gates is rumored to have said, "I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job … because he will find an easy way to do it." Whether correctly quoted or not, it’s a sentiment quite a few programmers endorse. Simplicity and ease is prized in programming — and prized by teens raised with technology.
What does this mean for brands looking to earn a slice of $43 million in teen spending, roughly $4,000 annually per teen?
Keep it short.
Remember, teens are likely engaging in multiple simultaneous exchanges of information. Make sure they can get your message within the time and attention they will allot your brand.
Make it useful.
Teens are tuned in to utility and their marketing b.s. meters are pretty sensitive. Give them an exchange in which they can easily see the benefit to them.
Help them achieve their goals.
It is not fair to call teens lazy, but I think my son’s observation was on-target. Even the most industrious teen grew up with calculators, computers and on-demand entertainment. Expediency and efficiency are the norms even when ambitions are big. Help teens see your brand as one that knows what they want and can help them get it … fast.