Can Retailers Use Twitter to Connect With Teens?

May 23, 2013

It’s reverse logic time. Follow this: While virtually every teen (94 percent) in the land belongs to Facebook, most are not all that passionate about the social media site these days. On the other hand, 26 percent of teens now belong to Twitter, but that number has more than doubled since 2011.

The reasons for the enthusiasm gap between the two sites is straightforward, according to Amanda Lenhart, one of the authors of a study conducted by Pew Research Center.

"The key is that there are fewer adults, fewer parents and just simply less complexity," Ms. Lenhart told The Associated Press. "They still have their Facebook profiles, but they spend less time on them and move to places like Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr."

Interestingly, while most teens tend to have private settings on Facebook accounts, 64 percent of teen’s are sending out public tweets on Twitter.

Pew’s research found that African-American teens (39 percent) were more likely to use Twitter than white teens (23 percent).

What does the growing popularity of Twitter among America’s teens mean for retailers? What are the right ways for merchants to connect with teens on Twitter and what are the wrong ways?

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9 Comments on "Can Retailers Use Twitter to Connect With Teens?"

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Adrian Weidmann

Retailers and brands alike should focus on providing goods and services that resonate with teen shoppers, then encourage them to “tell their friends” via Twitter and other relevant social channels. Let Twitter enable and amplify ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing. Combining Twitter with a meaningful gamification strategy might prove valuable.

Ken Lonyai

I’d like to hear from a true expert in teen marketing on this, but I do not believe there’s a big opportunity for retailers here. According to Pew, teens are migrating away from FB to avoid the drama and their parents. In other words, as teens have always done, they’re looking for their own space to communicate in their own way. Brands and retailers are going to have a hard time penetrating that community with any credibility unless they are truly a teen brand that is already reaching that market effectively.

Max Goldberg

Retailers need to stay on top of social media trends and need to be constantly experimenting with social media platforms.

Engaging consumers in social media means listening and then joining in the conversation. It means solving problems, not selling, as in traditional media. Finally, retailers need to experiment with promotional offers, whether this means dispensing customized useful information or discounts.

There is no bible for social media success. Each retailer needs to find its voice, but only after listening and learning.

Lee Kent

Folks, social media is not the place for marketing, it’s the place for sharing! Especially twitter!

All I can say to retailers is that they better be watching and they better have someone watching who can get things done. That is how reputations are won and some level of loyalty happens.

A little story for thought. I love Jason’s Deli and I check-in every time I go there. Who ever is watching Jason’s always tweets me back with some recognition of my visit. Then every so many months, the Jason’s tweeter sends me a DM asking for my address because they would like to reward me for being such a loyal customer. People, it works! Just sayin’…

Shep Hyken

It could be Twitter or any other social media channel, retailers should take advantage of the opportunities these channels give them. If the teenage consumer likes this form of communication, and it is reaching critical mass with the numbers, then use it.

Here is the key. The retailer can’t simply start communicating with the customer. It really is a two way street. With Twitter, the customer can follow or not. What does that mean to the retailer? The messages that are being sent to the customer better be relevant and provide value.

Customize messages to larger segments of the customers buying patterns, the merchandise they’ve bought or looked at in the past, etc. Deliver value in the form of advice, suggestions, and even coupons. Make it more about them and you may keep them on the list.

Craig Sundstrom

So let me get this straight, retailers should devote time and effort to a new faddish medium which is—arguably—even less suited to them than the last one, solely because the last one has run its course? Perhaps they should devote that time/effort instead to building brand equity by doing mundane things like reducing shrinkage/out-of-stocks and employee turnover, and then—as Adrian succinctly suggested—allowing teens to spread the word themselves, however they want to do it…be it Twitter, FB, or notes passed around in class. Just a thought.

Ralph Jacobson

I actually disagree with the statement that Twitter is growing all that much with teens. It’s Facebook, Pinterest, and a few other sites. Twitter is quickly becoming an older adult channel.

AmolRatna Srivastav
AmolRatna Srivastav
4 years 4 months ago

One or the other social media site will remain relevant at some point in time. I think if you can form a strategy for using Facebook for marketing, you can do the same/on similar lines with Twitter. The only question is of what exactly do we do for marketing? No straight answers here.

Leveraging social media is completely fine. However, care should be taken that it is not overdone to the point of people finding it spooky….

Kenneth Leung

If you are a teen brand, Twitter is a great enabler assuming you are investing in the personnel and content strategy to interact with the audience. You can answer questions directly from your customers and build goodwill and brand relevance to your audience. However, it isn’t a ‘magic pill’, it is a road and retailers need to invest in the right wheels before they can drive on it.


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