I’m attending the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, TX. I’ll be blogging over the next few days about those panels and presentations I attend that have a business or customer service application. This morning I attended a panel discussion on What Teens Want Online & On Their Phones. Seven panelists ranging in age from 12 to 17 spoke to us.
Of the seven panelists, nearly all were users of Facebook or MySpace. Those younger than 16 lied about their ages on those sites. They used these sites as the primary method of communicating with their friends and family, especially those out of town. E-mail was used primarily in communicating with grown ups such as teachers, applying for jobs, and registering for Web sites.
The major turnoff, for all of the panelists, was the overwhelming presence of advertising. Pop up ads, those with video and sound files, and those that forced you to click throught them to get to a Web site were especially singled out. Excessive banners on MySpace were also mentioned, as was the ease of picking up viruses from MySpace with all of the resulting negative results.
All of the teens with access to cell phones used texting. Each had one or two games to combat boredom (surprising to me, several loved Tetris) but no one fessed up to having a lot of ringtones and wallpaper. This may be because the panelists appeared to be from middle-income families where the older ones earned the money to pay for their phones and the younger ones inherited older less technically adept phones.
They were not totally opposed to ads. Those ads that were relevant, for example sport shoe ads on NBA.com, and those ads that encouraged them to plan a game were seen as positive.
Most of them, especially the boys were gamers.
If your customer base includes a large segment of teens and tweens you want to be using social media. You may also want to investigate texting as it will only grow in popularity. Some of the teens are on restricted plans so texting to them should include a choice to opt-in.
Even if your customer base does not include teens, these kids will grow up. If you’re not thinking about how your business can use new technology such as social media and texting, you may inadvertently be giving your competitors an edge.