Marketing to Smartphone-Wielding Teens

Teen Smartphone

When’s the last time you saw a teenager without a smartphone glued to their hand? A look around any American high school campus, mall or sidewalk suggests that teen smartphone use is on the rise — and now we’ve got the stats to prove it.

A March 2013 report from Pew Internet reveals that 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and 47% own smartphones.┬áThis uptick is more than another annoyance to parents, though; it’s a new way to reach an increasingly affluent target market (according to Nielsen, 29% of U.S. teens live in homes earning $100k+ per year). Here are a few ideas for engaging this growing mobile audience.

SMS Campaigns

SMS campaigns are key because they can tap into the larger portion of teens — 78% — that own an SMS-ready phone. DoSomething.org has seen significant success with this platform, and is currently texting more than 1 million teens, as CEO Nancy Lublin told the crowd at AllThingsD’s Dive into Mobile Conference. To get started with a text-based campaign, check out our SMS Marketing 101 guide.

Mobile Video

Video is a solid choice when you want to target the 47% of teens with smartphones. According to Nielsen, 12-17 year olds watch more mobile video than any other age group, clocking in at nearly eight minutes of mobile video per month.


A few months back we saw a series of reports about teens tiring of Facebook — and while you shouldn’t count on a mass log out just yet, you might consider the still-cool-in-teenage-eyes Instagram in addition to Facebook. In fact, Zuckerberg and team all but recommended this in their latest annual report, stating, “We believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram.” To get started, check out these tips for improving Instagram strategy.