Communicating With the Youth: We Have to Get Close

When it comes to social media engagement, real communication and the creation of an emotional relationship between your brand and your followers is vital. It’s not only about getting adults interested in what you have to offer, but also the youngest ones. Do you think they don’t matter or have nothing to do with your brand? Think again!

According to Pew Research Center and the population estimates released in April 2016, people between the ages 18 to 35 years will make up more than 70% of the active workers that make decisions as consumers and electors all around the world in the next 5 years. Not only does the number of young people nowadays exceeds 75.4 million in U.S. but it’s also a significant group that you certainly need to have on your side.

Involving young people in the solutions, plans, and strategies of a brand is the right way to go instead of leaving them to wonder and to “do their thing”. Think about it. Young people are the ones in charge of the future. They’re preparing themselves to take over. So, it’s not crazy to think that they need to be part of the strategies we plan and execute now, right?

In 2013, Ahmad Alhendawi, in his first appearance before the UN as Envoy of the Secretary- General of the United Nations on Youth, said: “We need to challenge the negative narrative about young people and involve them in the solution” – he couldn’t have said it better!

The catch here is that it’s not only about trying to write content on “what we think young people are thinking/doing/watching”. On the contrary, we need to understand their interests, likes, and dislikes; we really need to know them up close and try to answer some important questions, such as: Why do they live towards their online personality? How do they show themselves in social media? What do they like to watch, comment, and share? What are the reasons that make them LIKE a post? What do they expect from a brand? Do they want to talk or read? Do they like storytelling?

Keys to get closer

Create empathy: You have to show interest in what young people love, so you can start to understand them and adapt your content to their needs. Yes, this includes online gaming, comics, gifs, viral videos, and things that passionate them. It’s important to know what subjects they know and feel like their own, who their cultural heroes are, what they listen to, what they watch, what they read, who they follow, what motivates them, and how they communicate. Do you know who Kanye West is? You should!

A study by the Pew Research Center spoke about the behavior of young people regarding their schoolwork:

  •         50% said they write informally in their homework.
  •         38% said they use shortcuts like “LOL” (“laugh out loud”).
  •         25% accepted emoticon use.

Why do I bring it up? After analyzing this, we can now understand that it’s useless to think they communicate differently in other scenarios. They are the way they are everywhere. If we want them to understand us, let’s speak their language! It’s the only way.

No judgments: Part of the barrier between adults and young people is the fear of being judged. Let’s be honest, young people are not stupid and they know everything that has to do with adults (hello… Google exists!). If adults open up to them and stop treating them like kids, they’ll come out and start sharing what they know and love.

Acknowledgment: If you want to empower young people, they need to open up to you and you need to create an emotional link. How? you need to start hearing them and accepting their opinions. They need to be challenged to be satisfied. They need their achievements to be recognized. They need to have a good feedback to be motivated.

Getting close to young people is easier than you think and it’ll bring you more benefits than you may imagine. You have the keys to effectively communicate with them: listen, accept, engage, appreciate their motivations, and understand what surrounds them without judging every single thing they do. Ready? Rock on!

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