Microsoft's Danah Boyd on why brands struggle with the teen demographic

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft's Danah Boyd on why brands struggle with a teen demographic

If you’re a brand throwing money into the coffers of SEO and SEM mercenaries who stalk the internet with promises of hits, clicks and ROI among a teen demographic, then Microsoft’s Danah Boyd has a few observations that may help stem some of that spending. Danah Boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft, who spends much of her time in a new lab in Cambridge, MA with a team of social scientist, looking to understand how technology and society intersect.

In an interview a few weeks ago for, Danah is dishes about various things, among them, are how she got hired by Microsoft, her favorite social media platform (Twitter) and more importantly, her discoveries into how recent trends in technology are transforming the lives of teens today. She goes onto explain:

“I really wanted to think that the internet would’ve transformed youth’s lives since, in many ways, it transformed mine. I had to put that hope aside when I did my research and really listen to teen’s stories. In the process, I realized how much of our society has changed and how today’s youth are just trying to cope with the restrictions and limitations and stresses that they face.”

She also offers up some suggestive tips for  businesses looking to target the coveted “brand-spreading” teen demographic.

“It starts by offering products that are beneficial to teens. From there, it’s about actually providing youth with a service through which engagement is mutually beneficial. For this reason, plenty of brands make no sense trying to engage youth online.”

Microsoft's Danah Boyd on why brands struggle with a teen demographic

It not readily apparent how Microsoft will utilize her area of expertise, as it seems Apple and Google to a certain extent have vacuumed the air out of the room when it comes to youth awareness and their appreciation of technologies. However, Microsoft has never been in a sprint to win over users. Perhaps with thoughtful and steady commitments to promotions, programs and services like YouthSpark and Office 365 ProPlus Microsoft can cement itself with tangible value and become the brand teens grew to love.