Brands be Warned: 94% of Users Age 12-17 Don’t Want To Be Your Friend on Facebook

A new report from Forrester Research analyzes the digital behavior of young consumers and their relationships with brands via social media.  For those who are focused on getting more young consumers to click the ‘Like’ button, AdWeek breaks the ‘bad news’ to brands:  “Young people don’t want to be friends with you.”

While almost three-quarters of 12- to 17-year-olds are on Facebook, only 6% of this demographic using the web want to be friends with a brand on Facebook. According to Forrester, “Almost half of 12- to 17-year-olds don’t think brands should have a presence using social tools at all.”

Double that amount (12%) of online 18-24 year-olds are willing to befriend brands, but that still means 88% don’t want to be friends with brands on Facebook.

How important is the 12- to 17-year-old demographic?

  • 32% go on the Internet about once a day
  • Almost half are online multiple times a day, the most of any age bracket
  • Close to three-quarters of 12- to 17-year-olds have an account on Facebook
  • 66% report that they update their status at least weekly
  • 17% read posts on Twitter (up four percentage points from 2009); Forrester attributes this rise to the popularity of celebrity tweeters
  • At 67%, they are more likely than any age group to be ‘Conversationalists’ – regularly sharing updates on sites such as Facebook and Twitter

What do 12- to 17-year-olds expect from companies on social media?

  • Only 16% of young consumers expect brands to interact with them via social media
  • More than half are using social networks to stay in touch with friends (not with brands) – Forrester likens putting up a Facebook page for your brand to ‘trying to force yourself into their social circles’
  • Only one-quarter trust social networking sites, ranking 2nd to last in terms of the outlets that they trust

So how can brands reach this demographic through social channels, without relying on the ‘like’ button?

  • 28% expect brands to listen to what they say on social sites and get back to them; brands can earn trust by responding whenever young consumers have a question, concern, or problem
  • 74% percent of 12- to 17-year-olds tell friends about products that interest them – if that conversation is online, it’s usually on a social network
  • 12- to 17-year-olds shared their reviews about a product or service on Twitter and Facebook more than twice as many times as they posted on an online site with ratings and reviews – brands can listen and respond to what they’re already saying
  • 64% of 12- to 17-year-olds express their opinions about music, more than any other age group, presenting an opportunity for brands to collaborate with artists and find a more ‘authentic’ way to enter the social conversation with younger consumers
  • More than half of 12- to 17-year-olds talk about video games, and more than 1 in 5 play games on social networking sites – brands can look to creatively integrate advertising into games or the conversation around them.

To arrive at these conclusions, Forrester surveyed 4,681 Americans aged 12-17 on the Web in September of last year.  Read the full report from Forrester here: Understanding The Intricate Digital Behaviors Of Young Consumers