Insights from our VP Strategy, Colleen Tapp

Millennials…marketers have been chasing this coveted cohort for the last several years, watching their every move with keen interest. These digital natives have embraced technology and fundamentally changed the way brands communicate with consumers.

But they’re not the only kid in town. In an age where youth is currency, the even younger teen demographic is rising strong, with a few similarities to their millennial counterparts, but a unique voice all their own. Dubbed “digital homesteaders,” this pragmatic, tech savvy group has literally grown up with social media, and are very much in control of it.  

On average, teens get their first smartphone at age 11, and spend about six hours a day on their phones. They also spend time in front of television sets, gaming consoles, and computers, for a whopping 11 hours of screen time per day.  

And where exactly are they? According to a 2016 Piper Jaffray study, teens rated Snapchat as the most popular social media platform (28%), followed by Instagram (27%), Twitter (18%) and Facebook at 17%. Snapchat’s growth has been particularly meteoric thanks to its storytelling feature and continuous innovation. Snapchat’s enhanced privacy also appeals to teens with a growing anxiety that all this sharing can mean mistakes that live forever on the internet.    

Facebook, while still used by a wide majority of teens, is seen an outdated app for parents. Twitter was well liked for the ability to update friends quickly, voice opinions and interact with celebrities

Netflix is the most popular platform for watching TV series and movies. When it comes to music, Spotify is a top choice, letting teens find and share music, and see what their friends are listening to. Wishbone, the app that shows you two pop culture options and lets you vote on which one you like more, has become a teen favorite in a matter of months.

As social media pioneers, teens understand their power and know how to use it in shaping the media they consume. The well established, meticulous crafting of online personas and its illusion of perfection is something that teens are now beginning to question, craving more authenticity from brands, celebrities and themselves.