Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pew Study finds teens are using more mobile apps and sharing more information. But do they really prefer twitter over Facebook?

The study showed that teens are more connected than ever and in the last 7 years are sharing more information than before. Part of this is the result of the growth of social networking, which was still in its infancy in 2006. (Facebook was still limited to university students in May 2006.)Part was the result of the explosion of affordable cellphone plans and cellphone adoption for families. Part was the myriad mobile apps allowing fast and entertaining communications. Am a big fan of the Pew Internet Life team of Mary and Amanda. I was not surprised at most of the findings, with one exception - teen use of Twitter. Teens tell me that they aren't big fans of Twitter except when they want to publicize something. They use them to support events, causes and spread the word. Facebook is still a staple, but they are using Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and more often. Facebook is still their base, but the more vibrant and creative tools are favored. Years ago, when Facebook eclipsed MySpace, it was because MySpace had become too noisy, too distracting and too "trashy" according to our surveys of teens. They migrated to Facebook to find a way to better express themselves through the content, instead of the flash. That was what attracted them. The structured basis of Facebook may be the reason they are increasingly attracted to more "noise." But we're not seeing these replacing Facebook. Just the newer trends, tools and features gaining their attention now. Some of these come and go quickly. Formspring was popular until it wasn't. will follow this pattern, as have many others. These we consider trendy tools. Give them enough time and the teens will be bored and leave in droves. The Facebooks/Twitters/YouTubes of the world are the foundations. Tumblr (just acquired by Yahoo!)could go either way, as did Bebo, Xanga and others over the last decade. The bottomline, as our WiredMom told me, is that it has to be mobile to be used by teens and the services need to earn their loyalty not expect it.