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Not long ago, I wrote an article called: How To Market Your YA Novel and in it I revealed that most young adult novels are read mostly by older adults.  And if you think about it, it makes sense, adults are usually the gatekeepers of teen literature.  However, what if you’re exclusively trying to market to teens, where do you start?  How does an author build a platform that can reach teens where they’re at?  It’s not as hard as it seems, but you will have to learn about them first, so let’s get started…

Teens & Social Media

Since time beyond remembering Facebook, has reigned the undisputed king of social media with almost three billion users and despite that, it’s still hard to find teens on Facebook.  Today’s teens prefer sites like; Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, Youtube or TikTok because of their richer forms of content like video and gifs which are ideal for quick scrolling. That means if you want to reach this demographic, you’ll have to use visuals like video and eye-catching images which leads me to my next point…

Visual Marketing Campaigns Do Best

Most marketers agree if you’re going to reach young people today, you’re going to have to create a visual campaign.  Video is the go-to media of Gen Z but unlike older generations, they prefer short videos—really short videos.  We’re talking videos under 8 seconds.  Sorry, but long form content just won’t do when marketing to teens.  Speaking of long form content…

Forget Email Lists

Another thing to ditch would be email lists in favor of texting, I discussed this in a previous post called: SMS Marketing For Authors.  That’s because teens live on their phones and don’t rely on email to get their info.  Also, they pretty much do all of their shopping on the phone anyway, so reach them where they’re at.    

Team with Other Authors

One way to maximize your marketing efforts is to team with other authors of the same genre to do bundle sales.  This is a good way to build your audience and network with other authors in your genre. I talk more in depth about it in my post: Cross-promotion For Authors if you want to learn more. Below, is a list of the most popular services authors use for bundle sales: 

Keep It Real

Over the years, I’ve seen authors trying to market to teens who don’t really like young people at all.  I’ve seen authors mock teens and then in the same breath wonder why their sales are bad?  Here’s a professional opinion: If you don’t care about your audience, your marketing is going to suck.

Also, if you’re thinking about creating a persona for your marketing campaigns forget it.  Gen Z grew up in the age of fake influencers and fake news, they’ll spot you a mile away and expose you.    

Tip: When creating a marketing campaign make sure to be personable.  Ask questions and learn from your audience.  Also don’t forget to ask for opinions and feedback, however, be ready for that feedback even when you don’t understand or agree with it. 

Social Media Influencers Are Celebs

Gone are the days where the radio or television executives chose the next big star. Today, algorithms and SEO determine who gets an audience and who won’t.  The party is online for teens and young adults, because the internet offers them a plethora of choices that traditional media just cannot.  According to the stats today’s teens consider Youtubers legitimate celebrities right along the lines of Taylor Swift and Beyonce.  I talked about this years ago in a post called: Booktube for Indie Authors which opened the eyes authors who knew nothing about this subculture of book reviewers.

Youtube isn’t the only place to find social media influencers, SnapChat, TikTok, Instagram and many other social media platforms have book communities.  And as with any community there are leaders who influence trends and conversations.  You can find them by using keywords in the search engines of most social media platforms. However, if you don’t have time for that, I’ll list just a few services that can help you find these people:

  • BuzzSumo
  • SocialAnimal
  • Upfluence

I would recommend starting small and finding microinfluencers, rather than targeting someone with millions of followers.  The biggest influencers are generally booked well in advance and might want money.  That’s because the biggest social media influencers are making anywhere between 6 to 8 figures from affiliate marketing, merchandising and advertising.  For them, social media is strictly business and not pleasure. 

Tip: When approaching a micro-influencer offer them a few free books or a gift set.  One for them, and two or three for their audience.  It’ll open a lot of doors.   

Young People Don’t Wish For Diversity, They Demand It

In a 2018 Pew Research survey, it was reported that 48% of those Gen Z and younger (ages 6-21) are from communities of color.  Yet there is still a problem with diversity in the publishing industry. In 2014, the hashtag: #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks became a movement when a Twitter discussion about the lack of diversity in the children’s genre went viral.  Things haven’t gotten much better because in 2020, the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe embarrassed the industry when authors of color shared how much money they made from their work and compared the stats with their white colleagues.  If the industry wants to reach this generation, they’re gonna have to stop talking the talk when it comes to diversity.

Another thing authors need to be aware of when it comes to diversity is sexual identity, in a Gallup poll taken in 2020, it was revealed that more young people identify as LGBTQ than in previous generations.  In the poll, 9.1% of those in Gen Y identified as LGBTQ, while 15.9% of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ.

Speaking of identity, authors especially need to be aware of gender identity, because some young people don’t identify as he/him, or she/her, preferring the pronouns they/them, or ze/hir instead. This is a point authors must know because you may run into young people who identify as nonbinary, nonconforming or transgender. If you don’t know what those things are then, you have some studying to do.

This is important to know because if this generation can’t see themselves in the books they read, then they won’t read those books.  It’s just that simple. 

Wrapping It Up

As I did my research for this post, I kept hearing those within the publishing industry complain that this generation was difficult to market to.  I disagree, they’re not difficult to reach, and they’re not all that different.  The only thing that has changed is the technology teens use. Gone are the days of arcades and party lines, today’s teens have phones in their pockets 24/7 as well as smart devices like Alexa or Siri in their homes. And despite that, today’s young people still share the same concerns of previous generations like; social equality, poverty, health care, and environmental issues.  So if you find yourself not relating to any of this then the problem might run deeper than your marketing. 

Anyway, if you found this post helpful, please like and share.