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Big. Loud. Easy. DoSomething.org’s Formula for Inspiring Teens to Social Action.

What’s one way to get social marketers thinking about the teen demographic? Dress in a penguin suit!

DoS

At least, that was what DoSomething.org COO Aria Finger did for her presentation about the 25 and under demographic last week on Halloween.

The truth is: Aria and her team would have grabbed our attention even without the penguin suit. Some of the stats they provided about young people were truly astounding:

  • 33 percent of American women will get pregnant by age 20. For Latino women it’s 50 percent.
  • Last year, mobile phone users under 25 sent an average of 110 texts per day. That’s right: an average.
  • Youths in cities with higher minority populations tend to be more engaged in social good campaigns. (The least engaged cities were in predominantly-white Utah and Washington state.)
  • Smart phone usage is highest among minority youths. 81 percent of blacks and 84 percent of Hispanics aged 18 – 24 use a smart phone.
  • Among that population Android is the platform of choice – not iPhone. By a long shot.

DoSomething.org’s point in presenting this data was: if you don’t get to know the youth demographic, you can’t expect to persuade them to care about your social issue. Consequently, their outreach model involves the following: heavy market research, lots of SMS-based outreach and a bold idea (like thumb socks to prevent texting and driving or encouraging teens to prank their friends by impregnating their phones with a sassy phone baby that discourages teen pregnancy).

All of DoSomething.org’s campaigns are vetted through three criteria:

Big

The campaign needs to inspire action by at least 100,000 young people.

Loud

They want their campaigns to be more fun, unique and badass than any others out there

Easy

Every young person out there should be able to fulfill the call to action — meaning that young people should be able to accomplish the ask without money, a car or an adult.

And that, folks, is how you get 106,793 young people to donate 205,491 pounds of peanut butter to their local food banks and more than 220,000 high schoolers to opt in to an anti-teen pregnancy SMS program — by making campaigns big, loud, easy and data-driven.

What’s your recipe for attracting the youth demographic? Share your tips in the comments below.

For more on DoSomething.org’s youth outreach efforts, check out this article about the organization’s new boutique agency TMI.

Sacha Evans
Written by Sacha Evans

Sacha currently serves as a Media Relations Manager at the Ad Council. Previously she worked in communications at Orchestra of St. Luke’s, StoryCorps, NPR, and Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. In her spare time she sings in the Manhattan Choral Ensemble, volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, and plays with her two cats. Find her on Google+ Twitter

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