At Thinkbox’s The Truth About Youth event last week we were reminded how differently 15-24 year olds are to post-youth adults.
We all know social media plays a huge part in the lives of most 15-24 year olds. Ofcom say youth spend on average 1.5 hours a day using social media. But social media plays an even more fundamental role in the lives of youth. It influences their happiness in a big way. Dr Adam Galpin from the University of Salford, talked about how dopamine levels have been proven to rise amongst 15-24 year olds a direct result of attaining approval from peers – they literally soar after a ‘retweet’, ‘like’ or ‘share’ on Twitter or Facebook. Being liked or shared equals pleasure. So, no longer is having one’s fill of chocolate sufficient – starting a trending topic is the newly revealed, socially acceptable (and legal) ‘high’.
So, creating ideas and content that gets talked about and shared in social spaces should always be an ambition when engaging youth. However, it would be dangerous to think that we should start off with social media. Good, old-fashioned TV is still one of the best ways to get this content in front of youth (and to get down with the kids). Research carried out by Thinkbox showed that live TV still accounts for 49% of all 15-24 year olds media consumption and Catch-Up TV and Broadcaster VOD are next most popular which combined make up 16%. YouTube is the third most popular ‘channel’ making up 7.5% of their total video viewing time.
Further, TV shows like TOWIE, Geordie Shore, Love Island and Come Dine With Me have significant cultural power for mainstream youth and sharing, tweeting and snap-chatting these is very much a way of staying connected, being accepted by your peer group and winning kudos.
So rather than be a competitor with social media, broadcast TV (and TV advertising) still has the potential to be at the heart of the digital generation, social (and cultural) world.
The trick is to think about what type of content you ought to create. Again, Dr Galpin had some interesting thoughts. Youth, particularly adolescent youth, like to be aroused, so engaging in reckless behaviour is appealing. That’s also why gaming, sex and (watching) violence are pretty big for them. Also, creating content that features themselves and their generation is generally more appealing. Educational content and documentaries (thankfully) is also engaging. Youth are shaping their identity and they enjoy consuming content that helps them explore and define this.
But probably most interesting is the shape and nature of content they prefer.
Your brain is at its peak processing power when you are aged between 15-24. This means you are much happier multi-tasking in ‘The Shallows’ where you can graze with multiple distractions and hyperlinks. Creating content that allows youth to dart off left, right and centre is no bad thing.
However, after you’ve hit 24, your processing ability declines. So post-youth adults are not so interested in this frantic media diet. They want simpler ideas, less distractions, ideas that require less investment and content they can immerse themselves in. Post youth adults fear the ‘Technology Loop’.
Think about both these things next time you are creating marketing content. Which of these two audiences are you creating content for? Which of these two audiences do you yourself fall into? Are you happy in ‘The Shallows’ or do you fear the Technology Loop?