snapchat-As many of you know, I have a 17 year old son named Max. Max has always been quite tech-savvy, having  personal relationships with Steve Wozniak, Phil McKinney, Ron Conway, and the like. Growing up, Max was one of the youngest people I know who had his own Facebook account (yes, he lied about his age to get one). But over the past couple of years, I noticed that Max is rarely on Facebook. He almost never posts anything new and never comments on anything I’ve written (even when I tag him, which can be so annoying).

The other night, Max and a friend decided to give me a lesson on social media and how it’s really used, at least for the next generation of consumers. As a public service announcement, I decided you might want to know, too. So here goes.

Snapchat

By far, Snapchat is the social media platform of choice. Everyone is on Snapchat. Snapchat has many advantages over other social media platforms:

  • There is no feed. Because there is no feed, you don’t have to worry about what you post. In other words, for the social media platforms that have feeds, you need to make sure you don’t put a lot of stupid stuff into other people’s feeds, because that will annoy them. With Snapchat, there is no feed, so you can post whatever you’d like, without worrying that you wasted someone’s time. This is why so much of what is posted on Snapchat is mundane. Last night, I posted a video of making mashed potatoes. No one complained.
  • There is no like button. There are no comments. Snapchat is, by and large, a one-way platform. There is no social pressure to like or comment on things you see. Also, you don’t have the emotional investment in seeing who liked your posts and responding to comments. Though you can see who is looking at your story, and out of habit, I find myself checking to see if anyone has looked recently (I’m trained that way).
  • You can do all sorts of fun and cool stuff to your posts. You can write on them, you can draw on them, if you want, Snapchat will put your location on them. Now, you can make smoke come out of your ears and bubbles come out of your mouth. Fun.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Snapchat is not used to send nude pictures, because that’s just stupid.

Speaking of locations and stories, Snapchat has been doing a series of daily, location-based stories. People who are in the spotlighted location can submit snaps for potential inclusion. What gets included is selected by the folks at Snapchat. Yesterday, they had an all-day story from Istanbul. They also had one from Texas. The day before, it was Jeddah.

I find this idea of showcasing a location and including snaps by real people who (for the most part) live in that location to be a fabulous way to share cultures around the world. Most of the clips are very basic shots of how ordinary people live ordinary lives. No political filters. No staged events. Just real kids (mostly) sharing how they live. I love this. Apparently, Max and his friends do, too. Bravo, Snapchat.

Instagram

Coming in second on social media platforms is Instagram. Because posts on Instagram show up in your follower’s feed, you only use Instagram for “important things”. That way, you don’t annoy anyone with photos of your bedroom wall or a shot of the hallway at your high school.

Facebook

According to Max, Facebook has been taken over by parents. It is full of political posts, videos of cats, and other things that teenagers just don’t care about. No one posts to Facebook anymore, even though it is still important to have at least 1,000 friends. Facebook is like a cocktail party for the over 35 crowd. Boring.

I asked Max about the use of Facebook for two-way communication. Isn’t it important to see what’s going on in other people’s lives and comment on them, particularly old friends who live far away? I got a blank stare. Perhaps two-way communication is outdated, like me.

Twitter

Unimportant. Not used. Not followed. I don’t think Twitter ever took off as a platform for teens.

Pinterest

What’s that?

LinkedIn

Teenagers aren’t looking for jobs. Enuf said.

 

If your customer base is the up and coming generation, it is clear that your social media strategy needs to focus on (or at least include) Snapchat. As for me, I now have a Shapchat account so that I can see Max’s daily stories and post clips of mine. Max is definitely not happy about this. Alas.

Val Swisher
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