By Anne Collier
Here’s some data and some anecdotal evidence. First the data: A recent survey of teens found that “the world’s largest social network has been replaced by Twitter as US teenagers’ favorite social platform,” Internet research firm Statista.com reported, citing research by investment bank Piper Jaffray. When asked what their favorite social media service was, 26% said Twitter, while Facebook and Instagram each got 23% (Statista stated the obvious on that: “Facebook’s decision to acquire Instagram appears very smart in retrospect”).
Even more interesting is a teen’s own perspective on why this has been happening. Thirteen-year-old New Yorker Ruby Karp wrote in Mashable that “part of the reason Facebook is losing my generation’s attention is the fact that there are other networks now.” It’s not just the total convenience, the all-your-friends-with-you-all-the-time appeal, of mobile, it’s diversification too. The choice represented by Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, and a myriad other social tools, each quite simple and unique, gives teens so many ways to customize their digital social experiences that the tools they use have become a form of self-expression. Other really interesting reasons from Ruby for waning interest in Facebook:
- Uncontrollably social. “Let’s say I get invited to a party, and there’s underage drinking. I’m not drinking, but someone pulls out a camera. Even if I’m not carrying a red Solo cup, I could be photographed behind a girl doing shots. Later that week, the dumb-dumb decides to post photos from that ‘amazing’ party. If my mom saw I was at a party with drinking, even if I wasn’t participating, I’d be dead.” She adds that “this isn’t Facebook’s fault, but it happens there” – and what’s implied in her example is that it’s the way Facebook aggregates all the adults in their lives that creates the problem.
- The new LinkedIn. Mashable suggests that Ruby’s saying Facebook is to her and her friends what LinkedIn is to their parents. “By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram. Facebook was just this thing all our parents seemed to have.”
- Keep it simple. “I always wanted a Facebook I could call my own. But once I got it, everything started changing. There’s too much going on. The change from the old Facebook to the Timeline was very all of a sudden…. It also became a huge marketing mouthpiece.”
- But “I love Facebook, really I do. I hope they can make a comeback and appeal to my peers. I think it’s a great idea for a website, and I wish Facebook the best of luck.”
- “Teenagers prove fickle when choosing their favorite social networks” in the New York Times
- “Teens to Facebook: ‘Okay, Bye!'” in ReadWrite.com
- ConnectSafely’s parents’ guides to Snapchat and Instagram
- Twitter explained to parents: Great tips (7 of them) for adults new to Twitter (besides the helpful perspective they can get from their kids!) in the New York Times. My personal favorite: “Tweet like a person.”
- “‘Less is more’ for mobile teens”
- Last January: “Teens Top 5 social media picks: DIY survey”