Don’t ever underestimate the power of teen ambassadors. At the SADD National Conference in June, I found hundreds of fun, energetic teenagers that were very engaged in teen issues – a social marketers dream.
I also found myself to be pretty nervous. I have worked on teen targeted initiatives, but I have never presented to real live teens. I couldn’t help thinking of the stereotypical paper airplanes whizzing by my head, strategically placed whoopie cushions and maybe even a spit ball splattering on my powerpoint projection.
However, we came prepared; we came with a gimmick. And to my delight, I believe it worked. We named our workshop “How to Become a Digital Superhero.” At our booth we had teens text the word ‘digitalhero’ to the short code 30364 to receive all our teen-targeted campaign website links with the message “Your 1st assignment as a digital superhero is to share these links.’” Then we had them give their name and email address so we could follow up with more info (when they are at their computers and not at a resort with three waterslides) and took their pictures dressed as superheroes.
Did they know it was gimmicky? Yes. Did they care? No. That’s what I love about these kids most of all. Their willingness to try new things, play along and do what they have to do to keep themselves and their friends safe and healthy. If your organization has teen initiatives and has a chances to attend a teen-heavy conference, I say do it. It’s important to get staff out from behind the desk to actually talk with the teens they are messaging. Plus, as much as we message to teens, nothing can compare to hearing the message from their peers. We hope our new superheroes will take their first assignment seriously and share the information about digital safety with their friends.