For the young, a grow­ing case of Face­book fa­tigue

Newer me­dia’s rise seen as sign of the brevity peo­ple want

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY NATHAN PORTER

Though Face­book first took the Web by storm barely eight years ago, new stud­ies show that more and more young peo­ple are view­ing the ground­break­ing so­cial me­dia plat­form as an in­creas­ingly old-fash­ioned way to learn what’s up.

Like its elec­tronic pre­de­ces­sor MyS­pace, all signs seem to show that Face­book is los­ing its buzz among young users, even though Mark Zucker­berg’s brain­child shows lit­tle de­cline in over­all us­age, be­cause of its in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity with older gen­er­a­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to a study re­leased ear­lier this month by the Pew Re­search Center, 45 per­cent of Twit­ter news con­sumers are 18 to 29 years old, while 35 per­cent of Face­book news con­sumers are in that age range. Con­versely, only 2 per­cent of Twit­ter news con­sumers are 65 or older, while 7 per­cent of Face­book news con­sumers are in that age range.

So­cial me­dia watch­ers spec­u­late that this youth­ful affin­ity for Twit­ter, In­sta­gram, Snapchat and other newer out­lets may be be­cause many view such ser­vices not just as a so­cial me­dia plat­form, but as an ex­ten­sion of their lives.

“Twit­ter has be­come their so­cial lives online. ... Younger in­di­vid­u­als are view­ing [their fol­low­ers online] as their com­mu­nity,” said Carolyn Kim, so­cial me­dia an­a­lyst and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sor at Bi­ola Univer­sity in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

The shift in so­cial me­dia us­age doesn’t end with Twit­ter, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to the Pew find­ings.

Across the na­tion, young adults, teens and pre­teens are in­creas­ingly ex­press­ing them­selves on new so­cial me­dia plat­forms. It is not at all un­com­mon now to find high-school­ers with thou­sands of Twit­ter fol­low­ers.

The most pop­u­lar new so­cial net­work­ing sites — in­clud­ing Vine, a videoshar­ing mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion owned by Twit­ter; In­sta­gram, an online photo and video-shar­ing so­cial net­work­ing ser­vice; and Snapchat, a photo-mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion — share a few com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics. A big one is pack­ing max­i­mum of in­for­ma­tion into min­i­mum time, space and band­width.

“I think [the emer­gence of th­ese sites] is an in­di­ca­tion of the brevity that peo­ple want,” Ms. Kim said.

Like Twit­ter’s 140-char­ac­ter limit, In­sta­gram videos have a 15-sec­ond max­i­mum length and Vine’s videos have a six-sec­ond max­i­mum.

Another sim­i­lar­ity is the lack of a heavy ad­ver­tis­ing pres­ence in the sites.

“Teenagers, not sur­pris­ingly, are hip to cor­po­rate ex­ploita­tion,” wrote Rick Newman, a blog­ger for Ya­hoo Fi­nance in a re­cent post on “five rea­sons teenagers are flee­ing Face­book.”

Al­though many cam­paigns have been launched to com­bat the neg­a­tive ef­fects of so­cial net­works, the re­al­ity is that th­ese sites are here to stay.

“So­cial me­dia is go­ing to con­tinue to grow and, rather than see­ing how we can di­min­ish it, … the bet­ter ques­tion is how can we adapt as a so­ci­ety to use so­cial me­dia more re­spon­si­bly, be­cause it is ex­tremely pow­er­ful,” Ms. Kim said.

Many com­pa­nies and or­ga­ni­za­tions are tar­get­ing the var­i­ous net­works and online paths of so­cial me­dia users.

“Peo­ple know that an­a­lyz­ing th­ese types of so­cial me­dia tools is im­por­tant, ... but they don’t al­ways know how to work the tool,” said Rob Cronin, vice pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Re­search & Ex­changes Board, a Wash­ing­ton-based non­profit that uses so­cial me­dia ex­ten­sively to pro­mote civil so­ci­ety ini­tia­tives.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion hosted a so­cial me­dia fo­rum ear­lier this month on how to an­a­lyze the online foot­prints of users and spread a brand or idea — with­out bom­bard­ing a net­work with off-putting ads.

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