I’ve always been obsessed with social media. Ever since joining AOL Instant Messenger in elementary school, I’m all about trying out the newest fads in social technology. Anyone else remember ICQ?
The best part about working in digital marketing, especially with social media and content marketing, is that I get to use and plan usage for a living. I’ve noticed that as people age, they seem to become disconnected from what’s “in” (PS why do we let children determine what’s cool or not?). Consider the social media platforms that are age-relevant.
I’m sure each platform is different for different ages, but we can all acknowledge they were viewed differently. Facebook used to be not for adults — I literally refused to add my mom on Facebook until I was halfway through college, even though we have always been super close. Twitter is often seen as something for younger people: “I don’t understand how Twitter works — do you tweet or twit or what?”
Twitter is literally a microblogging website with the easiest interface of all social media platforms. It’s not that older people didn’t get it, they just didn’t understand how it was being used.
Instagram became the next cool platform, until many became connected to Facebook. Then, youths resort to “finstagrams” aka fake Instagrams. I agree – what the fuck. Still, it points out an important trend that kids and young adults don’t feel comfortable sharing their true selves with the rest of the world.
Snapchat is following in suit. Snapchat has the most difficult user interface of all social platforms, therefore making it even more “exclusive.” Older people generally don’t have the time or patience to figure out Snapchat, so they don’t use it. Since older people aren’t on it, kids are able to be more transparent in sharing since others may not see it.
So why don’t younger people feel comfortable sharing their lives honestly for the world? Well, maybe because everyone warns them that their entire life could rest upon their personal social media brand. Young people want a platform where they can go and express themselves without worrying about Aunt Susie judging them or their older cousins showing their mom, even if it is just a sultry selfie with a puppy dog filter.
Think about it — all of the “Truth Is” Facebook posts, all of the whining on Twitter, the mirror pictures on Instagram, or the amateur vlogging on Snapchat Stories. Each has evolved over time, but like many influential bloggers, young people quickly learn what is “liked” and what isn’t on social media. More “private” (or misunderstood) platforms allow them that freedom. Even if Facebook and Instagram offer Stories features that make sense on current platforms, people still want to stay off the beaten path (and off the record). Sorry friends, Snapchat isn’t going anywhere.
My recommendation to any of us “old folks” who don’t give a fuck about Snapchat? Give a fuck. Even though people post the most mundane stores that waste my time and everyone else’s, it’s an important way to learn how people are communicating. What they’re communicating may not be changing the world, but their methods are impacting how technology operates.
Technology follows trends, and trends inspire innovation. Young people who aren’t satisfied with social media will be creating the next platform. Maybe we don’t have to watch every single story of a blurry food picture, but we should all attempt to understand how they are sharing it and why they feel obligated to.