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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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Engaging a Younger Audience

In today’s super competitive market, where consumers have more knowledge and power than ever, there is no denying the importance of increasingly researching, connecting and listening to what your customers want.

However, there is still a group that often eludes market researchers and online communities – that being of the under 25’s. In this article I will explore aspects of young people’s behaviour online, common pitfalls and tips for engagement.

If you make it – will they come?

There’s a common misconception that younger people will be the most actively engaged in online research as they are the most frequent users of the internet (73% of under 25’s chat with friends online every day). However, just being online gives you no guarantee that young people will get involved in what you are offering. Make yourself present in online environments they already use – set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account for example. At Intersperience we have integrated our communities with Facebook, making access to the site, updates and research invites even easier.

Digital Natives

Under 25’s are often referred to as ‘Digital Natives’ - having grown up in a world that is far more connected and technologically advanced than ever. Digital Natives are not shy of using the internet, they are already comfortable and most likely experienced in the ways of sharing videos and photos, posting comments, playing games and conducting their own research online. Therefore ensuring the use of a variety of different research techniques that are both interesting and entertaining will go a long way to enhancing user experience and increasing engagement.

A Need for Speed

However, this does not mean over-complicated, flashy websites are necessarily the way to go. Under 25’s are used to instant everything; from fast food to instant messaging, simplicity and speed are key. Young people like to express their views in a quick and easy way, take the example of the Facebook ‘like’ button or Twitter’s micro-blogging – simple ideas that have had huge success.

Accessibility is also vital in the modern age with the rise of the smartphone, young people are connected 24/7. Sending out bite-size research via mobile or creating a mobile app for your site could work well, however make this too complicated and time-consuming and again response rates could be low.

Personality vs. Anonymity

Young people are more creative when it comes to their online persona and like to be able to design the environment they’re in, making it as individual as they are. The ability to change colour schemes, backgrounds and in particular profile pictures are important in enabling this. The ability to create a personal profile, where you are able to express your likes and interests as well as upload photos and videos is also a tool which will help engagement.

However, Digital Natives are extremely savvy when it comes to sharing their personal details online, a comforting thought for parents but a potential barrier for market researchers. Incentives may encourage sharing of personal information, answering the common ‘what’s in it for me?’, but how can you trust that details provided are not false? The key here is to create a secure environment where young people are able to be as anonymous as they wish and express their views without being identified or feeling judged.

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