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Tips for Reaching Teens on Their Mobile Devices

From the Do Something homepage.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a Nielsen study that found teens were turning away from TV in favor of lots and lots of texting.

Do Something, a national nonprofit that involves teens in causes, is capitalizing on that stat, contacting teens on their mobile devices as a regular part of its outreach. According to this recent story in The New York Times, the organization would like to enlist 3.8 million members by 2014, triple the number that helped with 50 or more of its campaigns in 2010. And mobile outreach will be key to reaching that goal.

We spoke with Naomi Hirabayashi, Do Something’s director of marketing, about how to reach teens on their mobile devices. She offers three tips.

“Always provide a clear value to the teen.”

“A lot of people are using mobile as just a push mechanism rather than a push and pull,” she told us. Instead, use mobile devices as an opportunity to ask teens about their opinions and start a conversation, “giving them a platform to share opinions on things they relate to.”

Oftentimes, teens aren’t asked what they think, particularly on controversial topics. A quick poll that the organization conducted about sex education a few months ago generated a 17 percent response rate, which Hirabayashi said was great for the organization.

“Respect the medium.”

A mobile device is one of a teen’s most prized possessions acting as a “life line” for most, Hirabayashi said. Moreover, teens are averse to advertising. So be sure that it’s a conversation you’re starting. For example, rather than just asking teens to opt-in, pose a question, offer information, and invite them to take part.

“Have a strategy for how you’re responding.”

Automatic responses that aren’t in keeping with what you or your teen audience is asking won’t keep them interested. Try to have live people responding, via social media or otherwise, as much as possible. And when that isn’t possible, be certain the automatic responses aren’t out of whack.

“Make sure it makes sense. And make sure the conversation flows as seamlessly as possible,” Hirabayashi said.

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