TEENS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: WHERE ARE THEY AND HOW DO THEY USE SOCIAL?

As a senior portrait photographer, it's important to understand how teens use social media and where they spend their time. There's been a lot of chatter about teens leaving certain platforms and becoming less interactive on others. So what's up for 2016? Read on. You might be surprised.

TEENS AND...GULP...FACEBOOK

Newsflash! Most teens have NOT left Facebook! It's true, they aren't using FB like they used to, but they are most definitely still on it. The difference? They tend to lurk more than share. And we definitely know that they are there much less. On average, for the teens that still have a Facebook account, they report to "checking in" once a week on average.

Teens are using FB to stay up-to-date on topics that interest them. The other big reason they are on FB---ready for this one?---is to stay in touch with and observe the "college lives" of their older classmates that graduated ahead of them.

After high school, college students use FB as their main social media platform. The next big step for a senior in high school is college so they are curious and interested in following the lives of the classes ahead of them and observing the "college life" that they will soon be living. If your current seniors eliminated their FB accounts awhile back, you can bet that they'll be signing up again mid-way through senior year if not sooner because of their looming college days ahead. Besides, all colleges are on FB and they have social groups there. Seniors know this. Bam.

One of the biggest boosts for FB has been the easy consumption of short videos. Teens love quick and entertaining videos and this has been a huge pull on that platform. Take note of this and consider pulling it into your FB marketing similar to how you might use Snapchat. Behind the scenes, video product-reveals, studio happenings will all translate well in the FB feed.

What does this mean for you and me as senior photographers? It means that there is still a reason to be on FB for the lurking senior high school student as well as continuing to market to their parents. Granted, teens aren't there as frequently as they used to be, but having a presence on FB can absolutely benefit the senior photographer.

TEENS AND SNAPCHAT

By now most senior photographers have embraced the amazing benefits of Snapchat for reaching and "entertaining" teens. Snapchat Stories are excellent for reaching the teen genre. More than anything, it's a perfect platform to "connect" with them as well as giving them an authentic look into your brand.  KEY WORD: "authentic look".

The best way to use Snapchat  is in its intended, native format: real time. There are apps out there that allow you to upload "older photos" but when doing this, you're missing the whole point of connecting "authentically" with teens. They want to see what's happening "right now" as you post your story, not a "prettied-up version" of your behind-the-scenes. They can get that on Instagram.

Keep in mind...authenticity is important to teens when it comes to using brands. It's important to understand how a teenager uses a social media platform and then use it the same way in order to authentically and genuinely share your brand with them via behind-the-scenes, product reveals, real-life personal stories, etc.

Using Snapchat to "trail your brand" as if telling the story of your day-to-day studio happenings and a bit of your personal life is the best way to capture the attention of your teen clients. Don't miss this important point. Be willing to pull the veil and let them peek into your real day and life without the perfection of editing and color-enhancing.

TEENS AND INSTAGRAM

They use it and they love it. But they don't post on it as often as you might think. Which isn't a bad thing for us as senior photographers except when it comes to managing a Senior Model Team. That's where "direction and requirements" must come in. We need to tell them what we expect as far as "posting model images" go, and then make it easy for them by sending an already-cropped, ready-to-post Instagram image.

One thing to note: teens communicate back and forth with each other in the comments of their posts. Sometimes their comments go on and on. But they are very conscious of how often they actually post on Instagram.

Just as we know ourselves, posting too often on IG will fill up the feed of our followers and is viewed negatively if overdone. But beyond that, there is an "unspoken" rule with teens that posting on IG isn't something to do regularly.  Just chalk it up to the fact that it's simply a "teen thing";  be aware of it and be prepared to "ask" them to post your images.

But don't let that fool you. Their lack of posting doesn't equate to how often they are actually on the platform. They follow the brands they love and keep up on what's in and what's new over on IG. It's one of their favorite sites to be on. Marketing your brand on IG in an "authentic" manner and with regularity will help make you one of the brands they want to follow.

TEENS AND TWITTER

Twitter is the "public" chatter of choice between teens and their friends. While Snapchat is used privately between teens as a means of communicating, Twitter is their choice of public communication where the posts are short and the feed is a firehose of rapid-fire commentary.

While teens "lurk" on FB with rare posts, Twitter is all about quick statements and public opinions and chatter.

Now that Twitter has pulled images into its feed, it's a great way for photographers to connect with teens on that platform. If you haven't chosen Twitter as one of your "main platforms" (remember, you don't have to be everywhere), you can still have a regular presence by connecting your IG to Twitter with native images through IFTTT app.

Keep in mind: connecting IG to Twitter is only a fallback approach as it's not highly regarded to post the same thing on Twitter as you do IG (why would they want to follow you at both places if it's the same content?), but better than not having a presence there at all.  And it's also a great way to get "images" over there in between short tweets you post in between.

THE TOP SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS USED BY TEENS:

  • INSTAGRAM
  • SNAPCHAT
  • TWITTER
  • FB
  • VINE