Posted June 25, 2007 2:01 pm by with 5 comments

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If you’re trying to reach teenagers online, you probably already know that social networks should be a part of your Internet campaign. Both the BBC and MarketingSherpa have stories out that can help improve your social network marketing to teenagers.

Using existing social sites
If you’re segmenting your campaign based on profiles, income or aspirations, the BBC covers a study that could help you. The UC-Berkeley study that finds a completely different “class” of American teenagers on MySpace versus those on Facebook. MySpace users, according to the BBC, tend to be minorities and get jobs straight out of high school, while Facebookers tend to be white, go to college and come from wealthier homes, being part of a more “aspirational class.”

While the study doesn’t comment on the correlation between parents’ wealth and college attendance, it does acknowledge that “class” in the US doesn’t necessarily correlate with income. (If you want to examine the class system in the US–heresy to say there is one, I know–read Class by Paul Fussell.)

Danah Boyd, PhD student at UC-Berkeley and researcher on the project, commented that “MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.” She also concluded, “This division is just another way in which technology is mirroring societal values.”

However, you also have to wonder if the larger subscriber base on MySpace (57M to Facebook’s 25M) mitigates the effects of the studies.

UPDATE: The full study is available from Danah Boyd’s website. (via my friend Steve)

Creating your own social sites
A MarketingSherpa case study (live till June 27) this week looks at creating your own social network for teenagers to help sell your products. One of the key takeaways from the study is to appeal to teens by giving them what they want. In this case, the company put their television commercials on their website and promoted them, created a video section of their site to showcase UGC-like videos, and built and a music site for unsigned bands to upload their songs.

The music and video sites also offered professional content in the mix: the video site offered more content from partners appealing to the same demographic and the music site offered a mix of the unsigned bands and tracks provided through partnerships with recording labels. The campaign also included a microsite to submit YouTube videos to promote real UGC and viral videos, including links to YouTube videos (that even opened in the same browser window!). Said their spokesman:

Doing this might be taboo for some marketers, but we thought that our audience was so keyed into YouTube that, content-wise, it appeared smarter to have them believe that we have the best selection of videos and video links on our site for their needs.

By appealing to teenagers through not only creating their own sites in popular genres but also utilizing the established sites in those areas, the company saw a membership increase in their social site of 276%. They also state that 27% of their sales now come from this site on average (and as high as 40% during times like the holiday season).