An interesting report by eMarketer today summarizing a May 2010 survey by myYearbook and Ketchum, which takes a look inside the heads of American teen influencers. The survey focused on approximately 10,000 myYearbook users, with influencers defined as the top 15% most active users. I had never heard of myYearbook before, probably because I am not a teenager, nor do I have any running around the house, but apparently if you happen to be a teenager who is active online, you know myYearbook, the most visited website for teens.

The survey's key findings, while interesting, are hardly surprising.  Teen influencers (remember, the survey only studied Americans) are estimated to be 70% more likely to share purchase decision information with their friends, and they invest a great degree of trust in what their friends have to say (52%) vs. the information they receive directly from companies (only 5% trust this source) or advertising (5%). 

Presuming that the majority of friends of influencers are not influencers themselves is informative, and it highlights how the WOM process is a two-way exchange.  We shouldn't forget that influentials are also influenced by non-influentials, and as Duncan Watts has suggested, we are all probably influential these days, what with expanding consumer connectedness.  That high school geek who everyone ignores in the cafeteria may well be chatting away online every night under the auspices of a trendy and hip persona, shaping attitudes and influencing brand preferences. 

I found it interesting that so few influential teens trust blogs, as it seems likely that many teen influentials are bloggers themselves. Highly unlikely that I am pulling in many teen visitors to my Paris Restaurants and Beyond blog - at least until I start reviewing fast food joints.  But it's an interesting question as to the relationships between influentials.  To what extent do influencers talk to other influencers?

The myYearbook study also found that a majority of teens prefer straightforward messages from brands, although they are also receptive to well-executed edgy, funny or shocking messages.

Finally, a look at the product categories that influencers are most likely to recommend, the usual suspects emerge:

eMarketer points out that although about 80% of US teen Internet users visit social networking sites at least once per month, many sign on mainly to chat with their friends and post personal updates, thus making them particularly difficult targets for marketers to reach.  So, how to reach teen influencers, especially when you don't have any running around your house?