AOL is targeting the teen blogging market currently dominated by Xanga and SixApart’ Live Journal with the launch RED blogs, a “fully customizable online blogging journal for teens”.
According to a new AOL/Digital Marketing Services survey that whilst perhaps somewhat commical in its results to adults but interesting in its insite into a large part of the blogging market, when teens are asked to choose whether they prefer to share their innermost feelings with their parents or a blog, they are split with roughly half (51%) selecting their parents and 49% choosing a blog. But they also understand the need for privacy. Eighty four percent of teens said they would not be willing to share their blog with just anyone on the open web. In response to these findings AOL’s RED service offers a refreshing way to create a blog in a ‘velvet rope’ environment and gives teens and parents the option to choose between different levels of privacy, ranging from private, semi-private and public.
– Private – allows teens to utilize the blog as a personal diary – under lock and key.
– Semi-private – only those who have been invited are able to view. However, parents are notified of the individuals that younger teens (13-15) want to read their blogs, which must be approved first.
– Public – anyone on the web is able to view. To protect younger teens, their blogs are always locked from general public viewing.
Once the level of privacy is determined, teens can then create and design their blogs’ style, color, layout and other features such as the ability to post polls, news, and other personal content on hobbies, family vacations and favorite bands
“With the unique customization features threaded throughout RED blogs, we are confident that our more than 5 million teen members will find this the best place online to express their creativity, showcase ideas and share their thoughts with others,” said Malcolm Bird, Senior Vice President and General Manager AOL Teens & Kids.
Teens and Communications
Beyond the new blogging phenomenon, teens continue to increase their use of e-mailing and sending instant messages to keep in touch with friends and gossip in school. Specific findings from the AOL/DMS “Teens & Communications Survey” include:
— Of the teens of who have read or created a blog, the types of blogs they read are about people they know (72%), their favorite TV shows or movies (42%), and their favorite musicians (40%).
— Approximately three out of five (58%) teens who read blogs do so because they are typically more entertaining and humorous than traditional web sites.
— More than half (51%) of teens who blog, read or update them once a week or more often.
— Teens say, if they wrote a blog, they would most likely write about their favorite hobby or interest (44%) or their favorite band or celebrity (39%).
— Teens find it easier to ask a boy/girlfriend out through instant messaging (36%) versus on the phone (25%).
— When keeping up with gossip at school, 42% use instant message or email and 26% use the phone.
— More than one third (35%) of teens instant message or send e-mails to their grandparents, and 38% instant message with their parents.
— Seventy-one percent of teens say they prefer to keep in touch with long distance friends via instant message or e-mail.