Today's young people were born with mobile phones in their hands and laptops within an arm's reach. The ability to stay constantly connected with family and friends has always been a part of their lives. It's a far different reality than many marketers knew when growing up. So how can they expect to connect with these young people in an authentic way? To better understand today's teens and young adults and how marketers can best reach them, Facebook commissioned culture experts Crowd DNA to conduct research into the lives of 13- to 24-year-olds across 13 countries. In an insight address at the iMedia Agency Summit in Rancho Palos Verdes, Ann Mack, who oversees global content and consumer insights for Facebook, shared the research results into this generation's mobile-first behavior. Overall, today's young people want to express themselves in the same ways that past generations have at their age. Youth is a period of growth, possibility, and sometimes difficulties. The difference, Mack noted, is that today's young people's growth and expression are facilitated by technology, which gives them a way to amplify their personalities. Today's 13- to 24-year-olds are the first-ever global generation. They're globally conscious, concerned, and active. Like generations before them, they're passionate about family, friends, and music. But unlike generations before them, they live in what Mack called "The Connected Consciousness." In fact, Facebook's research found that online has now surpassed the mall when it comes to places where young people spend their time. In fact, online is second only to friends' houses as a hangout spot. FOBO (fear of being offline) is the new FOMO (fear of missing out), Mack said. Technology isn't a guilty pleasure. It's integral to young people's lives. Multi-screening is second nature to this generation, with 78 percent of young people using their phones while watching TV. "The mobile phone is their first screen, not the second," Mack said. That said, marketers would do well to remember that not all young people are the same. Mack breaks 13- to 24-year-olds into these three sub-groups: Optimists (13-15), explorers (16-19), and realists (20-24). So what does this mean for marketers who are looking to reach today's youth? Mack concluded with the four following tips:
- Create a surround-sound experience with integrated experiences across screens.
- Make it mobile first.
- Speak visually.
- Treat them as individuals.