Lane Sutton
Lane Sutton Source:

I’ve sat in on a lot of social media sessions, webinars and discussions. While I’ve learned so much from these, the delivery is typically the same. Presenters are often experienced marketers, thought leaders, executives, consultants, etc. Oh, and they’re typically of adult age.

But one of yesterday’s presentations from the Hartford Business Journal Social Media Summit was different. Sure, much of the social media stats and stories were ones I’ve heard before. The difference in one particular presentation was the point of view. The presenter is 14 years old. His name is Lane Sutton and he’s a young entrepreneur in technology, business and social media. He grew up with social media and doesn’t know life without it.

Yes, Lane grew up with social media and doesn’t know life without it. This concept boggles my mind. While I’ve been using social media since the early 2000s, I’m an 80s child so I had much of my childhood and early adult life without social. However, I’m a Millennial – the most tech-savvy generation. We grew up on computers, video games and cable. Lane isn’t old enough to be a Millennial yet. Do you think his mindset could be intriguing and give us a taste of what’s to come?  I do.

Keeping his mindset in mind, I was able to strip away some key takeaways regarding this up-and-coming generation and their social habits.

Key Takeaways from a pre-teen

Be a cool brand. Brands that provide great products/services while maintaining a hip personality are more likely to intrigue this young audience. It’s about being human. Being cool. Is your brand status-update worthy? In addition, this age group cares about helping others. They want brands to stand for something. The Pepsi Refresh Project is a perfect example of a brand that provides a strong product, a hip personality and supports meaningful causes.

People flock to places where others are flocking. Word of mouth and trusting the opinions of friends is vital to this group. They are looking for inviting and exciting content. Uniqueness and intrigue can go a long way,  helping a brand’s message spread.

Tools are at their fingertips. Kids understand there are plenty of free tools to learn about their social presence. They are tracking their Twitter followers, getting to know which Facebook posts preform the best and could even understand the concept of influencers. Now, Lane is exceptionally brilliant and ahead of the curve but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible for others on this medium to understand a similar concept. It’s just like my childhood days with Nintendo. I was dissecting my Nintendo, fixing it myself, getting books on the latest console information and teaching myself the game secrets and codes. I was probably ten at the time. It’s completely possible that this concept of understanding your technology is transitioning to social.

Keep an open mind with social and think outside of your age range. Kids can teach us amazing things, even information about our own industry.

How do you see social media evolving as younger demos continue to enter the space? How can we adapt? Share your thoughts on this autumn Saturday! 


5 thoughts on “Learning Social Media from a 14-year-old

  1. Lane is a wonderful speaker and has a brilliant mind. I have had the opportunity to attend several events where I have heard him contribute to the conversation. He is definitely someone to watch!

    What we can really learn from this next generation is how to keep an open mind. They view privacy and sharing completely different. Rather than tell them what they are doing wrong, let’s watch how they are making it right.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lauren! I completely agree – even Millennials are less concerned about privacy so I can only imagine how this upcoming generation will respond to it. Being open and engaging with this group will enable us to learn so much and help our brands become “status-update worthy.”

    2. Thanks for your kind comments, Lauren! I appreciate both yours and Amanda’s!

      Exactly, I think that we can bridge the generation gap by conversing together. For example, today I was at Suffolk University lecturing MBA’s about how our data is used online and privacy, but how this affects advertising and social media marketing for business.

      All generations can share their take on the Internet, computers, social networking, and how it shapes our lives in different ways.

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