Status Update

Yup, even rural Kenyan teens without much Internet access will find you on Facebook

It might feel a little obvious that if you want to reach teens with a cool, aspirational brand like Future Fab, you’d make a Future Fab Facebook page. But in rural Kenya, we weren’t initially sure that it was the right play. A lot of young people there don’t have regular access to the Internet or smartphones, so before we could even determine what to put on the page, we had to first see if it’s a viable way to reach young people.

What we did hear was that though access wasn’t 24/7, there would often be someone in a teen’s social group who would regularly use the Internet, check things out, and report back. So people were engaging with online content, but not always directly and not all the time. Instead of checking it out every day on their phones, it was more likely that they’d go to a cyber café on the weekend to play around or something like that.

Learning more about how teens actually access social media helped us realize that Facebook is an important channel, and that overlooking it would be missing a big opportunity.

We were excited right away by the idea of a Future Fab page. It suddenly gave us the ability to crowd source some feedback well beyond the way we often do it, which is by talking to people in person. For example, we put a few different Future Fab t-shirt designs on the page and asked teens to tell us which ones they liked best. This was a great way to understand how we should push the way our brand shows up in the world. We also asked young people to tell us what it means to own your future. Not only did we learn from them, but we got to test some of the messaging that we’d been working on internally.

Don’t get me wrong, we also used it very much as a promotional tool during the live prototype phase of the process. It’s pretty powerful when we wanted to build awareness, promote, and advertise our upcoming events.

But there was something unexpected, and to me really cool, that came out of the Future Fab Facebook page. While working with young people in Kenya, we saw that if you’re a teenager, there are a few ways that you can be acknowledged. I mean, sure we could give someone $5 to say thanks for helping us with our research, but having your photo up on the Future Fab Facebook page or in our magazine, that’s a type of social currency—a type of status. Facebook gave us this really powerful way to informally appreciate our youth volunteers.

Teens were excited about the Future Fab Facebook experience, but little beats an IRL t-shirt.

We even had a story of one of our youth connectors who used to wear his Future Fab t-shirt all the time and his picture was in the Future Fab magazine too and people actually started calling him “Fab.” I’m not gonna say that he was famous, but….

As Future Fab moves into the pilot phase, the Facebook page will still play an important supporting role in the program. We’re piloting in five different regions and having a Facebook presence gives our field coordinators a chance to share back photos and stories from the events and activities that they’re holding.

One of the hopes is that the page will still be a great way to bring visibility to Future Fab as a lifestyle brand, but that it will also start to show that the goal here is for Future Fab to be a national program. We’re looking to build a movement here, and part of the recipe is having a digital platform—one that teens already get and connect to—where they can engage.

We learned that teens may not be online all the time, but they still had robust digital lives.

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