5 Friendship values for youth marketers

Friendship is about truth

Just reading through McCann Worldgroups recent ‘Truth about youth’ study which had some interesting findings. I’m going to blog separately about some of their key themes from the global study of 7,000 teens and 20 somethings, but one thing which immediately caught my attention was their POV on the top 5 values young people seek in their friends. I thought this was particularly useful as youth brands today are constantly thinking about what type of ‘friendship’ they need to have on social platforms like Facebook/Twitter to drive engagement. These are the top 5 values and my POV  on them:

1. TRUTHFULNESS – apparently 2x more important than the next value, identifying that this is a generation defined by authentic human connections. This makes total sense to me as today we’re living in the Age of Reality where everything is about transparency and real time truth vs the 80’s and 90’s where youth culture was about Image. Brands can’t con young people as they’re bullshit detecters are finely tuned and they’re not afraid to bring you down.

2. GENUINE – being worthy of trust is critical for friendship, saying who you are and not abusing this trust is paramount. Brands that are ‘liked’ in the social world must ensure that stay genuine and don’t abuse that trust. Brands who try and stretch the friendship by ‘faking’ it risk alienating young people. It’s important to stay true to who you are and give young people something to belong to and identify with in culture.

3. SOCIABLE – for young people today in the social economy ‘you are what you share’ and your social status goes up or down based on the frequency and the quality of what you contribute to your tribe. So brands need to be sociable at the right time, in the right way, giving these youngsters content to share which increases their social status. But don’t try and be the ‘life of the party’, they’ll shut you down in a second.

4. MATURITY – young people love having mates they can look up to for advice and inspiration. Probably a function of kids always ‘ageing up’, they’re looking for brands who respect them and treat them like an adult. They’re also looking for brands with a deeper sense of purpose and contribution back to society.

5. HUMBLE – no one likes a show off, and young people hate brands who clutter up their news feeds on Facebook and bombard them, overstating their importance in their lives. Be useful, contextually relevant and entertaining allowing these teens to express themselves and you’ll maintain the love. In my opinion Converse is a brand who ‘gets it’ in the Facebook world, 16m+ fans yet they don’t bombard you with one way messages, they are humble and invite you into interesting conversations when appropriate.

I think these five values give marketers an interesting set of simple principles for how to behave in the social space and drive friendship.


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