Teenagers in the United States are constantly connected to the Internet. About 75% of them go online on a daily basis, and that number increases every year. Whether they're connected via their phones, gaming consoles, laptops or the computer lab at school, they're online pretty much all the time. Social networking - on Facebook and elsewhere - is a huge part of what they're doing.
You'd think this would be a potential boon for social media marketers, right? Not quite. According to research released today by Forrester, only 6% of U.S. consumers aged 12-17 are interested in interacting with brands on Facebook, even though they are active users of the site in general.
In fact, that age group is even more likely than 18-24 year-olds to be what the report refers to "conversationalists", or people who routinely post status updates to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Teenagers do use social media to discuss brands and products, but they want to initiate the conversation, rather than having the brand do so.
"While only 16% of young consumers expect companies to use social tools to interact with them, 28% expect companies to listen to what they're saying on social networks and respond if they have questions," says the report.
One of the challenges may be establishing trust. According to Forrester, most 12-17 year-olds said they trust search engine results and television. Almost 50% even said they could trust a company's website, but only 26% said they feel they can trust a company's profile on a social networking site.
It may just be that young people are accustomed to using social networking sites to interact with their real-world friends, something that is obviously very central to the lives of teenagers, probably more so than your latest social media marketing campaign.
While bombarding young consumers with marketing messages via Facebook probably isn't a winning strategy, listening to them - as with consumers of any age group - could hardly be more important.