6 teen marketing mistakes (and how to avoid them!)

Teenage customers are notoriously fickle and difficult to attract, but reaching them is not impossible. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way…

We might be the wrong side of thirty, but that doesn’t mean we’re not down with the kids. When it comes to marketing to a teen audience, we’ve seen it all. Here are some mistakes you might be making…

…and how to avoid them.

1. Using the same old platform

Today’s teens are avid media consumers but they use digital very differently to the older generation. While Facebook may be the dominant social media platform for many markets, the number of users aged 12 to 17 is declining year on year, while other platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are seeing increases in this age group.

The more visual and instant nature of these newer platforms means that the content turnover is much faster, and as a result brands are moving away from the more traditional ‘broadcast’ approach to creating content for these channels.

2. Trying to do ‘teen speak’

It’s often been said that teens speak a different language to the rest of us, and this is still true today. Today’s teens are sophisticated consumers though, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than an adult trying to relate to them using what they think is ‘teen speak’.


In order to communicate with them in an authentic way, it’s better to keep your communication straightforward and avoid clichés where you can or better still, team up with a teen influencer who can deliver your message for you in a way they feel more comfortable with.

3. Teaming up with the ‘biggest’ online influencers

Influencer marketing is big business (which we’ve already written about before) and brands are fast learning that YouTubers and Instagram personalities wield a lot of power over online audiences. One mistake many brands make, however, is going after the individuals with the biggest following and treating it like a numbers game.

The market for online influencers is so saturated now that the bigger the name, the more products they are likely to promote – and audiences know this. The smarter companies are now choosing influencers who have a slightly smaller but more devoted following, who can deliver the message in a more authentic way.

4. Taking ages to respond

This generation grew up with smartphones, which means they are used to instant communication. If you take two days to respond to a comment or tweet, their attention may have wandered elsewhere. Likewise, if you communicate in long, waffly paragraphs, they will most likely file it under TLDR (too long, didn’t read).

Solutions need to be offered quickly and messages need to be succinct in order to capture and keep their attention.

5. Ignoring email marketing

‘Teens don’t read emails’ is a refrain we’ve heard more than once, but this simply isn’t true. In fact, there’s a strong link between social media behaviour and email subscriptions among this age group.

Research has found that 95% of teens who like brands on Facebook also subscribe to those companies’ email list. The key to getting a teenage focused email campaign right is to ensure that messages are short, eye-catching and as personalised as possible. Segment your email list carefully to ensure that you are sending only the most relevant information to each age group and tailor the messages to their interests where possible.

6. Not being mobile optimised

It’s hard to believe, but some companies still don’t optimise their websites and emails for smartphones. A recent Ofcom study found that 90% of 16 – 24 year olds own a smartphone and spend longer on it than they do on desktop computers.

Two thirds of those on smartphones use it for two hours a day, compared to just an hour spent online by laptop and PC users. If you’re not optimising your communications for phones, you’re essentially halving the time you have in front of your target audience.

Finally, remember that teens aren’t some homogenous group of automatons. They have their own motivations, likes and dislikes, just like adults do. Marketing to a teen audience requires the same insight, strategy and planning you would deploy with an adult audience.

At 42group we’re marketing and charity content experts. Whatever message you want to get across and however difficult the challenge (and teenagers can be difficult…), we can help. 


 If you’re looking for helping hand with your marketing, social media and content, contact us today.