How Do Teens Communicate? Infographic and Marketing Analysis

Today’s youth are the next generation of loyal customers. Those with jobs tend to have fewer financial responsibilities and more disposable income than older generations. To sell to them, it’s important to speak their language.

This year’s scholarship contest included a survey asking teens about the social networks and technology they use to communicate daily. How do they consume media and connect with their friends? The more you know about the next generation of consumers, the more effectively you can reach them with your online campaigns.

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Please note: as the survey was part of a web-based scholarship application, the teens responding were be college-bound and Internet-savvy enough to come across the scholarship.

So What Does This Mean For My Marketing?

There are a few big takeaways from our survey:

Younger Generations are hyper-connected to social media.

That’s certainly not surprising! Connect with them on multiple networks to get the most mileage from your online marketing.

Timing doesn’t matter as much as you think.

Whatever time of the day you send your message, teens are likely to see it in their inbox by then end of the day – the most popular time for checking email. When they’re out with their friends, teens are more likely to use social networks than any other tool. Reach them in real-time by taking a multi-channel marketing approach.

Facebook and email are neck-and-neck in popularity.

Facebook is popular, but it only beats email by a thin margin. So social networks aren’t killing email as dramatically as you might think.

But it’s still important to engage younger generations in more than one channel. If you’re interacting with them strictly through email, you’re missing opportunities to connect with them throughout the rest of the day.

Finally, today’s younger generations expect innovation.

Nearly half of our essay submissions mentioned replacing a missing social network or technology with another existing one, or just waiting for someone else to create something better.

This generation lives in a world of evolving technology and expects that evolution to continue. To captivate them with your marketing message, keep your ideas fresh and creative. This is the perfect demographic to take risks with your marketing tactics.

Do these findings influence your future marketing plans? How do you plan to reach the future generation of customers?


  1. Kent

    7/17/2012 11:48 pm

    I think the infographic applies to adult as well, not only teen. I have the same attitude when comes to using tools to communicate. I spend more time on social networking sites as well, especially Linkedin.

  2. Deane Alban

    7/18/2012 10:11 am

    I’m pretty shocked to see that according to this infographic that teens use email. The young adults I know in their 20’s think email is for old dinosaurs like their folks. They text instead.

  3. Dan

    7/19/2012 2:30 pm

    I feel this graphic is flawed. “Facebooking” isn’t really something you do. There are actions you take on Facebook.

    Spending time on Facebook could be using the IM service. That should be directly compared to other Instant Messenger services, not to email.

    We should look at the data of people on Facebook using the “messaging” service which emulates email most accurately (in terms of being on Facebook). Compare that number to the number of teens (or whoever) using traditional email. This will be a much more accurate result.

  4. Rebekah Henson

    7/19/2012 2:45 pm

    Dan –

    Thanks for your comment. Facebook is a robust communication tool and the actions you listed are ways of using the service to communicate. Posting to another friend’s wall, broadcasting a status update, sending a private message to just one person – these are all methods of communicating online.

    The comparison shown in this infographic is between using email for communication and using Facebook for communication in all the forms that it takes. Messaging is certainly a part of that, but doesn’t show the whole picture when considering how teens communicate with each other online.

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  6. Kristina

    7/23/2012 1:13 pm

    Do you mind me asking how many people were surveyed? And how did you ensure only teens responded? (since I was able to take the survey and I’m 30).

    In addition, how did the teens find your survey? Did they get an email inviting them?

  7. Rebekah Henson

    7/23/2012 1:31 pm

    Kristina –

    We surveyed 984 high school seniors and college students, as stated at the bottom of the infographic (in the grey portion next to our logo).

    We did not invite anyone through email. The survey was part of a scholarship open to high school seniors and college undergrads and was published on a number of scholarship resource sites. We also got in touch with some institutions directly so that the teachers could inform their students about the scholarship opportunity. The students who applied for the scholarship and completed the survey found out about it through those scholarship sites or from their teachers and not through any email communication from AWeber.

    Hope that helps. :)

  8. Kristina

    7/23/2012 2:01 pm

    Thanks! Missed the number of students on my phone! Very interesting data!

  9. Adele Berenstein

    7/26/2012 9:26 am

    I agree with Deane.

    I believe the teens embrace texting, not email. I have a 20 year old at home and between IM on Facebook and Texting, he barely ever uses email.

    There have been articles in the newspaper about teens using 2000 – 3000 or more text messages a month.

    What was the definition of Email in your survey? Did it include Texting?

  10. Rebekah Henson

    7/26/2012 10:02 am

    Hi Adele,

    Thanks for your comment. While 93% of the students who responded told us they use email, 50% said that they actually check their email frequently throughout the day, which we state in the Email vs. Facebook section. Also note that 93% of our respondents said they use mobile devices, which includes texting.

  11. Bob

    7/26/2012 10:40 am

    Whoever did this survey missed the boat big time. Teens communicate almost exclusively by text messaging.

  12. Rebekah Henson

    7/26/2012 10:50 am

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for your comment. We were surprised by how many teens told us they use email, too! An equal number of students said that they use email and mobile devices, which include texting. If you check out the top section of the infographic, you’ll see that email and mobile phone use are tied at 93%.

  13. John Tanner

    7/26/2012 10:54 am

    This is outstanding information, I was just thinking about this dilemma the other day… having a 20 year old son, knowing his uses of technology, and wondering how I can connect my personal efforts into a venue to connect with that generation. Thanks for the survey info! OutStanding…

  14. Rick D

    7/26/2012 1:39 pm

    I run a large ecommerce skateshop. The numbers provided here do not match our experience. Our customer’s (and employee’s) average age is between 17 to 22 years old. These kids rarely check their email. Maybe once a week. And they usually only check it because they are expecting a specific email.

    My unscientific guesstimate would be closer to the following:

    Texting (via cel phone): 99%
    Facebook: 84%
    Twitter: 42%
    Instagram: 38%*
    Voice (via cel phone): 20%
    Email: 15%

    *Instagram is hot and rising very quickly

    We still send out two emails a week and we love AWeber. Unfortunately, it’s not very effective for our demographic.

  15. Crystal Gouldey

    7/26/2012 2:00 pm

    Thanks, Rick! This infographic is based on what teen’s said in a survey, so it’s no guesstimate on our part. It shouldn’t be a surprise that 93% said they use email (you need an email address for Facebook), but note that only 50% said they check email more than twice a day.

  16. Timmy

    7/27/2012 2:23 am

    No survey collects perfect data, but it does give us a good overview of teens communication. However, I wonder if this somewhat differs with age & class?

  17. Matt Gerchow

    7/27/2012 5:16 am

    One thing to note, is these are teens. Don’t expect a truly straight answer on any survey, or for them to even know what they do based on their recollection. Seems you’d have to actually watch what they do to get the straight scoop.

    I find this information interesting, but it doesn’t translate easily into my marketing as we don’t market to teens.

    I do like the infographic. So much easier and enjoyable to decipher than the graphics of yesteryear. Keep em coming Rebekah.

  18. Linda Sherman

    7/27/2012 2:04 pm

    Nice infograhic. I worked as a director for a JWT affiliated Market Research company for six years. I agree with the comments here that any research is flawed, however I would not be surprised that teens check their incoming email even if they don’t use it for outgoing communication. I plan to share this through my network. Thanks for the content!

  19. Sveder

    7/27/2012 5:19 pm

    Great article and interesting Infographic. Can you please add a link to the source of the study you mention as data?

  20. Priya

    7/29/2012 6:46 am

    Well once I used to use Orkut like anything. Now Facebook dominated social networking. I believe facebook will continue to be the main communication media for the teens. Hard to beat it in the near future.

  21. Rebekah Henson

    7/30/2012 7:12 am

    Sveder –

    The infographic is based on our own survey of high school seniors and college undergraduates for a scholarship we offered earlier this year. The scholarship information and survey are linked in the second paragraph of this article, but here’s the link again if you missed it:

  22. Robinsh

    8/3/2012 3:57 pm

    Due to several communication medium and their deep presence I was not counting the Email as a tool to communicate with my friends and customers no doubt I use it same as it shown into the infographics report but I was not counting my friends like that.

    Thanks for this eye opening infographics report because now I know that how to go for marketing my next creation.

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  25. hansen

    3/4/2013 12:04 pm

    As a jr. in college and working two different jobs, i use my email all the time, more than any other medium. It’s a necessity in college. In high school, I used email rarely and was all about texting. Freshman year of college I started understanding how important it is to check email frequently. Now that I’m married and in college I hardly ever text however.

  26. Rebecca Jenick

    11/27/2013 3:48 am

    Kids have more choice for communicating with their mates and friends. You can stop them doing anything which they think ”we’re right” Do whatever they want to do and being a teen i think we’ll learn from our mistakes as our parents learnt. 😛