BOYS vs GIRLS: the gender differences of #inbeTWEENers

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Tweens are often termed the ‘inbetweeners’, caught between the kiddie world that’s focused on fantasy/play and the fledgling world of teenagerdom that’s about self expression within the group. Marketers looking to engage with tweens in todays digital environment need to understand that there are huge gender differences between boys and girls aged 8-12. I wrote about these gender differences in a previous post here, but this visual above is a snapshot I created with my fellow planner Paul Gage on the tween gender differences.

Put simply tween girls are all about the social context, playing in co-operation with their friends as they do things online. Once they hit 12-13yrs however, this co-operation turns into competition. We’re seeing the new digital trend of Instagram beauty pageants where girls post selfies and compete with each other as to who’s hot or not. Check out #beautycontest or #beautypageant on Instagram.

 They’re also looking for brands to provide deeper storytelling content online, they’re after detail, flourishes of pastel colours and the ability to create their own branded memories to share with friends.

On the flipside, unsurprisingly, tween boys are about adventure, action, gadgets. They’re visual rather than being verbal focused in their interaction. Their gaming world has trained them to focus on a hero character as the social context is less important. They want brands to be quick and to the point, bold colours and graphics and get excited by symbols of achievement as they compete with their friends in everything. Tween boy world is binary – yes or no and they are extremely single tasked focused. Good to see things don’t change as it’s true guys can’t do two things at once.

 Just a few tips and tricks to think about when looking to design brand experiences for tween boys or girls. Thanks Gagey for the shared insight.

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Who is Generation C

A speech I gave last year at a digital conference here in Sydney on who is Generation C. This is Part 1 where I cover off who these digital natives are and their relationships with brands and each others. Part 2 will of the presentation which I’ll post shortly was about how to create conversation and tribal ideas with Gen C. Stay tuned.

Chameleons 2.0 – experimental identities

Last year I blogged about the concept of youth being ‘chameleons’, in that they’re constantly morphing their identities to access different tribes and subcultures online. Today youth prefer shallow membership of many tribes, as opposed to entrenched membership & being defined by one subculture. Access to new tribes is just a ‘Google’ away.

The past few months I’ve explored this concept a little deeper whilst chatting to a host of teens and early 20 somethings as well as kicked around some thoughts with my good friend James Quinlan and we’ve come up with some new perspectives on the concepts of Chameleons.

The big insight is that youth in the digital age see their  IDENTITY AS EXPERIMENTAL.

They’re  constantly trying on different personas to see which suits best. Their identities and how they express themselves online is in constant BETA MODE, open to influence from culture, brands, events, celebrities.

An example being, a 15yr old girl I spoke with who is into beach culture and lifesaving puts on a certain voice eg: she speaks ‘pig latin’ with her beach buddies, but that same afternoon she’ll interact with her gamer or dance crew over Facebook or messenger and her communication (language, voice, tone) shifts completely.

Just as the youth of the 60’s experimented with drugs and free love, todays youth experiment with their digital identities, constantly.

How one crafts their digital identity is critical for young people today, as identity and being seen as multimensional within your peer group is social currency and ultimately, acceptance into the group or many groups. If you’re not connected and contributing to the conversation amongst your tribe, you’re social status drops and you’re an outcast. So, we’re seeing massive peer pressure being put on todays youth to contribute to their friends worlds.

This pressure to contribute and play an active role on social networking has led to what I call DIGITAL FAKING or  ‘FACEBOOK FAKING’. It’s rampant amongst Aussie teens.. They’re ‘faking’ checkins on Facebook places, taking credit for other peoples tweets,  lying about their FB status updates eg: they’ll check-in at the Ivy in the Sydney CBD, even though they’re sitting on their couch at home watching The Hills.

Although intrinsically linked, their online identity is far more important than their real world identity given they’re constantly on show and seeking affirmation. They are stressed about it, and scarily they are doing a lot of faking in order to fit in amongst their tribe. In a world where what and how often they share content, ideas, conversation with their friends determines their importance within the tribe, teens are under pressure to constantly be interesting and that’s hard, even for the coolest kids.

The implications for youth marketers are threefold:

–       There’s no longer a one size fits all approach to engaging youth, brands must appeal to multiple passion points and match their different social rhythms of the year

–       Think about how your brand enables young people to take on or evolve their identity? The success of gaming culture is a perfect example of the escapism and role playing young people crave today

–       How does your brand give youth fun and interesting ways to express or reinvent their personas, either via an interesting experience or content/ideas they can curate and share with friends. Give them ideas/content which is cultural currency, stuff they’ll want to talk about with their friends online as friends are the ultimate filter

Agents of Change: 13 the new age of responsibility

Read a great post by @Camila_Ibrahim  from Edelman Digital in NYC called ‘Tweeting with Purpose’. She was recently at Ted X Teen and heard some amazing 13-17yr old speakers talk about how they were using the digital space for public diplomacy and disruptive innovaiton via social media.

I blogged early last year about a key dimension of Generation C, being about CHANGE, or youth being ‘Agents of Change’, especially in troubled parts of the world. In 2009 we saw the youth of Iran rise up over the government using skyepe & other social platforms. Young people today are experts at mobilising their friends quickly and driving action.

 More recently, as Camila can attest, Egyptian youth used social platforms to organise rallies, share new ideology and the like.

The Age of responsibility for youth is no longer drinking age or when you get your license at 16, it’s now age 13. The age when you can sign up for Twitter.

 According to a recent World Vision study, 50% of Gen Y are becoming more cause oriented via social channels. This stat makes perfect sense as now it’s so easy for these teens and 20 something to have a voice. The study also suggested  teen girls we more likely to ‘like’, ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ a charitable cause over teen boys (41% vs 27% respectively)

As Camila’s post suggests, this new community of ‘change agents’ as I like to call them is being led by 13yr olds like  @ConnorBrantley who set up United Now, a movement aimed at ending partisanship in government. He sums it up perfectly:

We shape the world, step by step, post by post, tweet by tweet

Diesel Facepark – poking fun at digital culture

As part of Diesel’s global Be Stupid campaign, they’ve come up with quite a cool little experiential event called Facepark, a live event where thousands turned up to create an analog version of Facebook, simulating pretty much everything you can do on Facebook in a physical format, starting with every guest receiving a profile cut-out on arrival that would become your analog wall for the day.

A cool quirky event that is semi social and a bit of fun for the brand. A mini movement against digital.  I like how the brand is poking fun at popular culture and being playful, in this instance, Gen C’s obsession with a digital life.  A very different approach to Levi’s super sious ‘Go Forth’ campaign which i equally admire.