In my continued series about online video and millennials, I interviewed 4 successful teenage Internet entrepreneurs and asked them for video marketing tips. They share their own experiences and advice for how businesses can better utilize online video for engaging the teen market.

All of the following interviewees were part of Social Media Optimization Conference panel, “Teen Entrepreneurs Give the Inside Scoop on Social Media,” held this past May in San Francisco. Each of the panelists was selected for being part of the GenY crowd, and who had already built a success business around using social media to connect with the right audience.

  • Daniel Brusilovsky – Founder and CEO, Teens in Tech Labs
  • Benjamin Georing– Software Engineer, Livefyre
  • Shreya Indukuri  – Co-founder, SmartPowerEd
  • Chloe Spencer – Founder and Owner,

I asked them all to respond to one basic question: What advice would you have for businesses that are looking to market to teenagers with online video?

Teen Video Marketing Tips Summary

Now for those in our audience who suffer from attention-deficit disorders, (yeah I’m talking about you, Frank Stallone)… here’s the consensus of points I gathered from this group of “professionally social” teens:

  • Humor/Parody/Fun
  • Music
  • Ease-of-sharing across social media platforms and mobile devices
  • Plan to launch multiple videos with only enough time in between to still maintain teens’ shorter attention spans.
  • Teens are responsive to language – so put a lot of thought into the keyword choices in your videos.
  • Teens are also responsive to images – give consideration to your choice of thumbnail image for your videos that will get their attention
  • Look to Facebook
  • Make your video content available via mobile devices
  • Give teens their own voice
  • Look to emerging Web community platforms popular with teens, such as formspring and Quora.
  • Less focus on advertising and “talking at” teens and more focus on embedding your brand in the content and “talking with.”
  • Overall, build a real community experience, or be an active part of an existing teen community.

Chloe Spencer,

Teenagers love video. Teenagers love anything that they can click “Play” on. And most of all, teenagers love something that they can share with their friends. They love videos that are funny, original, catchy or memorable, spoofs or videos riding on the coattails of other popular content; using popular songs and creating new words based on something else popular as an example. But most of all, humor is the most important factor of an online video intended to catch the attention of a mass of teenagers. If it’s hilarious, it’s more likely to be shared between peers than any other type of video.

Always make sure that there are sharing buttons right next to the video – for Facebook, Twitter, email, even video messaging for iPhones, Androids, etc. The difference between a video with a couple hundred thousand views and a video that spreads like wildfire with a hundred million views is how sharable it is. Presenting the viewer with easy, immediate ways of sharing will make it even more probable that it will spread quicker and wider.

The quality and humor factor of the video are very important, but even more important is getting it out to the right crowd. Once it starts to take hold… jackpot. The teenagers will do the rest. Gossip and spreading things like wildfire, social networking, communicating online, and watching online videos is what teens do best. Throw the right video to the right crowd in the right place, and the rest is history.

Also remember, fads are short-lived, especially online video fads. Teens will be watching and talking about your video; but only for a short period of time. That’s why you need to have a follow-up plan ready (for doing more videos) Getting teens invested and engaged takes nurturing (with continuous videos) and is a definitive competitive advantage for the teen market.

Lastly, put a lot of thought into the keywords in the title of your videos. The title is extremely important. The very first few words in the title and the paragraph, and what’s definitely above the fold, is crucial.

Daniel Brusilovsky, Teens in Tech Labs

Social media and online video are two of the easiest and most effective ways today to connect with the younger generation – and turn them into fans and customers.

According to a February 2010 report from the Pew Research Center on Social Media and Young Adults, 73 percent of teens online are using social sites – that’s a huge number, whether it be having their own profile on Facebook, or their own YouTube channel.

The reason we are on them so much is because our mobile devices lets us go on them 24/7, no matter where we are. All of these sites and services are available via mobile devices, which are what teenagers have on them at all times, and we can access the Internet in one click.

I recommend business doing video consider reaching out to teens on Facebook.  While YouTube is the #1 video site for folks under 18 (in my opinion), Facebook’s community value is so much higher. Facebook is a social connection site that has become so popular with teens with posting their own video, not just aggregating. Engagement is the key with teens. Teens want you to give them a voice as well.

Teens are responsive to keywords. It’s really interesting how certain words and images trigger certain conversations. Bring them with your choice thumbnail image (in your video) that first sentence of descriptive text around the video (like your title and opening sentence) and make them want to read the rest of the paragraph.

Brands also need to pay attention to new, emerging platforms. Some things you can’t answer in a 140 characters like on twitter, and brands are starting to really engage with users by asking questions and providing support. Here are two emerging platforms that are highly engaging with a growing teen market:


Many more teens are getting formspring accounts. 27% of formspring’s users are under the age of 21, according to Quantcast. Teens are using formspring because it’s such an engaging platform to them. Formspring allows you to ask questions to your followers. formspring has over 25 million accounts and 3.5 unique visitors every day, even though the site is only 18 months old! The average user spends over 11 minutes on the site per day, and answers 10 questions per day. It’s not only getting a lot of views, but lots of engagement.

Brands can take advantage of formspring by holding Q&A sessions about their own brand and their products, sending SMS notifications, and pointing them to videos for community review.


Quora is such a great place to get information, too. I use it as a place to aggregate knowledge, but you can also use it as a place to post a ton of interesting content (including links to video content). They’re able to try new things, see what’s working and what’s not, and build new features based on community feedback.

Benjamin Goering, Livefyre

We’re familiar with YouTube’s stats from 2010 about over 24 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube alone, with over 2 billion views a day. Teenagers are now growing up in an environment where web video has been commoditized. It has lost its novelty, and many youngsters have built the recognition and subsequent avoidance of video ads and campaigns into their subconscious browsing behavior.

First, this imposes an imperative of quality that web video producers and marketers need to take seriously. With video everywhere, users have no de facto reason to watch a given video for more than the first five seconds. Quality in storytelling, production quality, and density of value is what will keep people viewing your content.

Second, and more importantly, addresses the problem of competing with an ever-increasing amount of online video and ways of spending time on the Web. How does one stand out? Why would a user click to view one piece of content over another? These are answers that organizations need to seek answers to.

In general, though, solutions tend to involve transcending the medium of pure video. Create a series (even one or two videos) that tells a story and gets users emotionally invested, however subtly, in the characters of a plot or the message it conveys. Use a blog to build a community around the campaign or, better yet, your organization or mission as a whole. Not only does this act as a useful distribution mechanism, but it builds an engaged base audience for other projects as well.

The goal should not be “How do I get X to watch our video?” Instead, focus on how your video’s content and marketing can leverage your organization’s existing customer relationships and also further their development so you can benefit in the future. And always think about how your video will fit into your target’s normal browsing flow. Most consumers have decided how to interpret and judge a video by the time they click ‘Play.’

I agree that brands should be paying more attention to Facebook for video’s appeal to teens.

Remember that Australian kid who fought back a bully? That video was first posted to Facebook, not YouTube; and because it first went viral on Facebook, all the news organizations started picking it up and made it a worldwide news story. So now we have a whole new level of how news organizations are picking up stories on Facebook. It’s really amazing how much things have changed over the last few years.

I’m only 18 so I can’t speak much about life experience, but 10 years ago, I really wonder that news organizations could never get their stories like this. Now they’re actually taking content from Facebook. Facebook is becoming this great aggregation source for traditional news media.

Lastly, brands need to stop thinking of themselves as separate from the conversation. They need to be willing to actually participate in the conversations around the video that they create and distribute – answer questions, clear up misconceptions, and just acknowledge your audience. That’s how you win teens over. Give teens their own forum for what they have to say, and nurture it with your own video content and theirs.

Shreya Indukuri, SmartPowerEd

I guess I have to stress the importance of creating and having fun. It’s tough to grab teens attention with serious videos. I think a company that wants to reach out to teenagers should have really fun, dynamic videos. Something I’ve seen to be successful are catchy music videos or parodies.

I would also stress the importance of storytelling. You’re never really going to engage with teens unless you’re willing to share your own story, and do it like you’re a real part of the group. It’s like our panel moderator Stewart Quality said, “social media is the campfire of which we sit around and share our stories.”

Want More Teen Video Marketing Tips?

Check out my earlier one-one-interviews with lead presenter Daniel Brusilovsky and Chloe Spencer, right here ReelSEO.

All photos © mediabistro