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Ad Week reports that “according to a new report from Forrester Research, just 6 percent of 12-17-year-olds who use the Web desire to be friends with a brand on Facebook, despite the fact that half of this demographic uses the site.

“Among Web-connected 18-24-year-olds, that figure doubles - meaning that 12 percent of that demo is OK with befriending brands—though the vast majority of young adults are not, per Forrester. Even scarier for brands: Young people don’t want brands' friendship, and they think brands should go away.”

Many brands are looking to social media as a strong digital channel to communicate with these consumers, since it’s where 12- to 17-year-olds are spending so much time,” Jacqueline Anderson, Forrester’s Consumer Insights Analyst, tells AdWeek . “But research shows that it is important to consider more than just consumers’ propensity to use a specific channel. Almost half of 12- to 17-year-olds don’t think brands should have a presence using social tools at all.”
KC's View:
Nothing like a cold dose of reality to make one re-examine a marketing plan...

What’s interesting about this is another sentence from the story:

Regardless of their willingness to interact with brands, nearly three-quarters of 12-17 year olds - 74 percent - use social networks to talk about products with friends and make recommendations.

So this means that a key demographic - that in a few short years will be the center of the target for brand marketers - wants to talk about brands via social media, but does not want brands to be part of the conversation.

Yikes.

It just so happens that I am moderating two different panels at the end of the month - one at the annual Western Michigan University Food Marketing Conference, and another at the SymphonyIRI Summit - that will be looking at mobile marketing and social media, and I’ll be curious to find out what people far smarter than I about such things believe brands should do in response to such information.

I wonder to what extent this may have to do more with brands than social media. For example, maybe they want the world to be a brand-free zone. Maybe they think that brands are guilty of a kind of crass and omnipresent commercialism that they find oppressive.

I know I feel this way every time I listen to a baseball game on the radio, and it seems like the announcers can’t comment on how green the grass is without saying that the observation is sponsored by this company or that one. The rhythm of the game calling gets interrupted by incessant commercials, and this becomes a kind of symbol for the brand clutter that surrounds and infiltrates our lives.

I’m not sure it is a bad thing if studies like these may us think twice about how commercial we get.

(I got a dose of this the other day when Mrs. Content Guy sent me an email saying she’d just been reading MNB, and noticed that Michael Sansolo had plugged our book in his column. Just as I’d plugged it a day or two before. Now, these plugs were relevant to the points we were making, but make no mistake about it, they were plugs. Mrs. Content Guy suggested - “urged” might be a better word - that it is time for us to shut up about the book...that at some point the salesmanship gets tiresome. She’s right. Point taken. I like to think that we have the capacity for personal growth...)