August can be tough for some teens. It’s a time when boredom settles in—a time when the excitement of summer has already subsided but the school year hasn’t yet begun.
While teens have access to more entertainment and technology options than ever, boredom is becoming an epidemic. A quick search on Twitter shows teens are getting bored more often. This may be driven in part by societal factors: With teen jobs disappearing and with fewer Millennials owning cars, many teenagers suddenly find themselves with a lot of time on their hands.
As we enter the dog days of summer, there’s an opportunity for marketers to engage teens in a meaningful way. Here are four ideas on how to do that:
1. Create relevant and interesting content
Marketing activities don’t need to be empty calories. Build relationships with teen customers by offering them something entertaining and stimulating.
To entertain their target audience, some companies use content-rich websites. These microsites give visitors access to engaging videos, detailed product demos, and crowdsourced content. For example, Coca-Cola’s “Ahh Effect” campaign targets teens through a site where visitors can play games, check out music playlists or view branded images. The website, which also features user-generated content, is geared towards mobile users who are looking to kill a few minutes of time.
Innovative companies are also using gamification to keep teens entertained. The Pierce County Library’s Teen Summer Challenge inspires teens to read by offering badges and by setting up a leaderboard where people can track their progress against others. This program helps bored teens find something to do while boosting membership for the library.
2. Get teens to co-create with you
When done right, co-creation can help companies build relationships with teen customers and gain customer intelligence in the process. ModCloth, an American online retailer with many teen customers, regularly runs “Make the Cut” contests where fashion enthusiasts are invited to contribute original designs for a particular theme. The company then asks its Facebook followers to vote for the winner.
Consider creating interactive environments where teen customers can virtually customize your products. If you’re an apparel brand, get teens to try different colors and let them virtually try your clothes online. By tapping into the creativity of your teen customers, you might find your next innovative idea.
3. Step up your social-media game
Just like many other people, teens turn to social media when they’re bored. If you’re providing great content online, teens are more likely to interact with your company.
When using social media to reach teens, it’s critical to think beyond Facebook and Twitter. Some companies already experiment on Tumblr and Snapchat, networks that are growing in popularity among teens. For example, Taco Bell and 16 Handles (a frozen yogurt company) have been using Snapchat to showcase their food and let followers in on announcements.
4. Invite them into your community
According to one study, 54.6% of online Americans between the ages of 16 to 24 have already joined brand communities. Online communities can help companies engage teen customers consistently while getting valuable behavioral and attitudinal insight.
Since online communities are set up to build long-term customer relationships, activities can be structured so that they are highly engaging. Many companies that successfully use insight communities keep activities short, fun and to the point. Keep your community engaged by doing visual activities and by inviting teen customers to share their experiences via photos and videos. Giving them sneak peeks of what you’re working on can help build trust between your company and your community.
One final word of caution: when marketing to bored teens, companies need to tread carefully. You wouldn’t want to encourage teens to be on their devices while at school, for example. By providing thoughtful activities that are enjoyable, interesting and social, marketers can engage teens and build brand awareness with this audience.