For 20 years, DoSomething.org has been providing exciting ways for young people (25 and under) to take action on the social issues they care about. We have built up 1.7 million members, and are the largest organization for young people and social change in the United States. How did we do it? We really pay attention — to our audience, to trends, to any and all data.
Because of this, DoSomething.org recently launched a subsidiary agency, TMI, which helps for-profit and not-for-profit brands knock it out of the park when it comes to young people, technology and social change. Here are five quick tips from the TMI team on how to get young people to pay attention to you (which, let’s face it, is what everyone cares about these days):
1. Peer pressure can be a good thing.
We know that 75.9 percent of young people whose friends regularly volunteer also volunteer, versus only 41.7 percent those whose friends don’t regularly volunteer. We also know that young people are 18 percent more likely to volunteer if they are on a sports team. Social interaction is the most important factor in motivating young people — whether that means getting them to volunteer or buy a specific product. Figure out how to bake that into your business model and make use of positive peer pressure!
2. Don’t make them come to you; reach them where they’re at.
Can you guess how many text messages the average teenager sends every month? 3,339. We’ll pause for you to really let that one sink in. 3,339. We know you’re thinking, “that’s insane!” — and it is — but it’s also a huge opportunity. There has been a 27 percent decline in email usage among those ages 12 – 34 over the past year, and an average email open rate is only 22 percent. When it comes to texting, on the other hand, messages have a 97 percent open rate (basically the holy grail of all open rates). Young people are obsessed with their phones and with texting — so if you aren’t texting with your users yet, you’re seriously missing out.
3. You have three seconds to make an impression.
The average time that any young person looks at a single piece of content to evaluate it and see if they want to read more is three seconds — that’s all you’ve got. Make what you’re saying short, simple, and to-the-point. And make it fun. If you manage to bore them in the initial 3 seconds, you’ve already lost them.
4. Don’t always go with your gut.
While we think we have pretty good instincts, sometimes we just don’t know what works, so we test it out. And not just with focus groups. We A/B test our content to see what young people like best. From simply switching out a header picture on an “11 Facts about Bullying” page on DoSomething.org, we doubled sign-ups from 50,000 to 100,000 people per year!
5. Your child is not always a good metric for every young person in the country — get real data.
“But I have a 15-year-old son and he doesn’t do that, so I don’t think that makes sense.” We’ve all said that sentence (or some variation on it) before, and it’s an easy trap to fall into. When you really think about it, it’s pretty obvious that just because one teen (or even a few teens!) you know, does something, it doesn’t mean all the millions across the country do. Make sure you’re looking to a real data source for your information.
For more information on TMI’s specific services, check out our site at www.TMIagency.org. And in the meantime, start studying up on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth characters and Ariana Grande lyrics — you’d better know them if you’re going to attract this group!
About guest bloggers Lisa Boyd & Aria Finger, TMI
Lisa is currently an Associate at TMI, a boutique consulting agency born out of DoSomething.org. Prior to TMI, Lisa worked as a freelance Strategist at both Purpose—a consulting firm specializing in online organizing for social movements — and Homer — an iPad app aimed at reinventing early education techniques. Lisa’s background is originally in international development, and she spent over two years in Sub-Saharan Africa (Tanzania & Malawi) working on water and sanitation programs–both independently and with Engineers Without Borders Canada.
Aria Finger oversees the marketing, campaigns, finance and business development departments at DoSomething.org, the org that empowers millions of young people to take action each year. Finger is also spearheading the new DoSomething.org agency, TMI, which advises not-for-profits and brands on young people, mobile & social change. Aria serves on the board of Care for the Homeless, teaches the Business of Non-Profit Management at New York University and is impossibly passionate about criminal justice reform.