With ages ranges ranging from 13 to 22, the "What Do Teens Want Panel?" at this week's Web 2.0 Summit was a sample of teen consumer behavior and a possible harbringer of what the web will look like when post-millennials come of age. With questions like "How important is email?" (Answer "If it's a Yahoo! address it's over" and "Hot girls use Hotmail.") the panel was an IRL version of the onslaught of media articles sensationalizing the fact that teens don't use Twitter.
Moderator Safa Rashtchy played a word association game with the panelists, mentioning the names of companies and asking for a response, to the delight of every marketer in the audience.
Microsoft : Xbox. Windows.
Google: Yahoo? Internet.
Yahoo: Google. To which Rashtchy responded, "You guys are weird."
Wall Street: Journal.
Second Life: Game? (None of the panelists knew what it was.) Reincarnation.
Windows: Would be a great prison guard, because it always locks up.
iPhone: Takes too long to load. No picture messaging.
The verdict on Twitter, meh. The verdict on Tokbox (a video sharing site), woot!
The problem with Facebook? Moms. "My mom uses it to plan dinner" was the sound bite complaint. Or "My great aunt from Canada friended me the other day." One #w2s hashtag user remarked that he would pay his mom money to get OFF Facebook. (Maybe this isn't limited to teens? Our Aunt Helen chats us up on Facebook at least once a day ...)
When asked by Sfweekly.com if maybe they would more excited about Twitter if they had something to promote (like people in the 25-35 age group), one panelist responded, "It depends in how many people I know that would participate" or the proverbial chicken/egg problem. Speaking like a proto-social media marketer he continued, "A combination of Facebook, Twitter and mySpace would be more likely to increase your reach."
Granted it's hard to gauge the online behavior of a whole generation from such a small sample. But panelist Audrey Michels spoke for users across all age groups when she adroitly responded to the thematic question, "What do you want?" with, "An easier Internet."
Sans Aunt Helen of course.