He’s a social media phenomenon with thousands of Twitter followers, almost all of them teen girls. He’s not in a boy band, and he doesn’t star in a Disney sitcom. He is Alex from Target.
And, unless you’ve been absent from social media this entire week, you know exactly who we’re talking about: the Target employee and Justin Bieber look-alike whose good looks prompted a young female admirer to snap his photo, which then went viral after it was shared via Twitter. Besotted teen girls quickly made the hashtag #alexfromtarget a nationwide trending topic on Tuesday, November 4, and within a few days, analytics revealed that more than 1.1 million people had tweeted about him.
Naturally, rumors swirled that this was all an elaborate marketing ploy engineered by the discount retail giant. Target quickly denied any involvement in or knowledge of the photo and its circulation on social media. And the young man at the center of it all – Alex Lee? His instant Internet fame has left him flummoxed. Since his identity has been discovered, his Twitter followers have ballooned from 2,000 to 600,000+, and just one day later he appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show to talk about his sudden rock-star status.
The lesson for brands? Don’t underestimate the power of teens on social media, especially teen girls. With plenty of free time, disposable income, and online proclivities that span the spectrum of social media – Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube—this segment can drive interest in products and brands in a way that other groups can’t.
Teens are early adopters, too. They eagerly wade into the social media sphere, connecting with each other as well as the brands that take them seriously and target them effectively. They are vocal in their likes and dislikes, sharing that information via online channels, which can result in the kind of rapid snowball effect (influence) that we saw with Alex from Target. So, brands, take note: some of your most viable and valuable marketing prospects are the teeny-boppers you pass in the mall. Ignore at your peril.