“Facebook Is Dead To Us”: What Teens Think About 11 Of The Biggest Social Networks

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19 year old, Andrew Watts, is a sophomore Management Information Systems major (marketing minor) at the University of Texas in Austin and penned an interesting glimpse into the world of teenage (and college) consumption (or lack thereof) of the biggest social networks. We see studies day in and day out from Gallup or Pew on polling that is then interpreted by all the hot tech blogs, but very few articles actually cite real, blood pumping teenage humans. And by the time the studies are published, most likely, the stats are dated – as teenage trends move in and out so quickly. What do they actually think, in their own words, about the various social networks? Watts lays it out:


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Watts states: “It’s dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.” But, he mentions, everyone is on it and it’s “weird and annoying” if you’re not. The social order of how modern day collegiate friendships are made begins with a friending on Facebook. It’s less invasive as asking for a phone number. Watts mentions that the two most used Facebook features for his demographic are Messanger and Groups. Much to my confusion. I thought Groups died when Pages rolled out, but apparently, Groups are alive and well in college. Watts also thinks Facebook Messenger is replacing WhatsApp (possibly why Facebook bought it in the first place for $19 billion. Yes, with a B).


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“Instagram is by far the most used social media outlet for my age group.” He says that even though not everyone is necessarily on Instagram, everyone who is on it, uses it. He said that people like the anonymity of liking and tagging on Instagram (as opposed to Facebook where your friends will see every Like or Tag you’re involved with) and he loves that there are no links (no spam or BuzzFeed links). He says the content is typically higher quality and much more curated than on Facebook. And it hasn’t been flooded with the “older generation” … yet. So it’s still hip.


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“To be honest, a lot of us simply do not understand the point of Twitter.” He discusses the dualities of being yourself and not on Twitter. Some like to be searched. Some don’t. It’s harder to find friends. Most teens, he says, still have their identities attached to their Twitter profiles in some form and are happy to be followed by (and to follow) random strangers. He said there are three main groups of Twitter users: “the ones who use it to complain/express themselves, the ones who tweet with the assumption that their prospective employer will eventually see whatever they are saying, and the ones who simply look at other Tweets and do the occasional RT.”


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“Snapchat is quickly becoming the most used social media network.” He explains, the difference between Snapchat and Instagram is in the etiquette. On Snapchat people will post photos and videos of their night as it happens. The good, the bad and the fugly. On Instagram they post “the cutest one of the bunch.” He likes that there are no comments and that posts disappear forever. There’s “a lot less social pressure attached to it” and what makes it so “addicting and liberating. It’s the real you.” Because there’s no searching past photos/videos (and everything gets deleted after a view), kids can post drinking, smoking, or whatever risqué shit they get into without fear of a future employer finding it.


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Tumblr is very popular amongst teens and nearly untouched by the elders. Users can be totally anonymous, customize their profiles to their liking, follow anyone (and be followed by anyone) and post whatever interests them without fear of being judged. He says,”Tumblr is like a secret society that everyone is in, but no one talks about. Tumblr is where you are your true self and surround yourself (through who you follow) with people who have similar interests.

Yik Yak

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Yik Yak is simple. There are no profiles and no followers. Anyone can post anything and it gets up or down thumbed (ala Reddit). Everything from “I just farted” to “Going to the girls basketball game tonight at 8.” He says everyone is on it before class, during class, and after class to find out what is going on around campus. Yik Yak is hyper local (only shows posts within a 10 mile radius). So he says completely unused during school breaks.


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Watts says that his peers regularly go to YouTube for specific channels and programs. Be it video game or makeup tutorials, comedy shows (exclusive to YouTube) or clips from other popular television shows like John Oliver, Jimmy Falon or Jimmy Kimmel. He says “YouTube has been a major part in replacing the amount of time I spend watching television due to the high quality of both original content on the site and more companies agreeing to put clips of their broadcasted content on the site.”

+Top YouTubers Reveal Their Secrets At Vidcon 


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Viners are now a thing. Some have agents. One of the most popular Viners, “KingBach” (Andrew Bachelor), charges $1,000 per 100,000 followers for sponsored Vines. With 10.3 million followers, that’s over $100,000 for one, 6 second video. The most popular Viners were not celebrities before Vine. Similar to popular YouTubers. Watts says that most of his peers go on it passively (to watch Vines) and very few actually create Vines themselves. Vine was created by Twitter and launched almost two years ago to the day.


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Watts says that, like Vine, most of his friends use Reddit passively. They visit it daily to catch up on news (and other random stories), but rarely post or comment. Possibly an occasional up or down thumb.


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“I personally do not know anyone who actively uses Google+” Ok, that settles that.


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“At this point they need to just get rid of the name and rebrand. No matter how amazing of a site they build, Myspace will always be the butt of a joke.” So, yeah, they’ve been done for awhile now.

Photo is by Palliativo from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons license. 

41 Responses

  1. Evan

    Well – for music, there is always the new social networking site, that’s also a gig guide and live music venue – http://www.eatnoise.com … It’s brand spanking new but offers a great full-screen landing page that ties in all your music and social media…

  2. Snidely

    “And it hasn’t been flooded with the ‘older generation’ … yet. So it’s still hip.”

    Ageism is awesome! F…ing punks. Get off my lawn.

  3. Jon

    Sounds like their platform preferences revolve around hiding from mom and dad. As they get older and aren’t with their friends all-day, every day, they’ll see the advantages of using platforms where you can share more than just pics. Who knows, they may even use FB because their parents are on it (that’s right, kids, you’ll actually like hanging out with your parents one day!).

  4. Linda

    It’s amazing how little this kid knows, and how much he got WRONG. Instagram, for instance: all you have to do is click Activity on your Followers to see who is LIKING something. It’s not hidden. And though he won’t admit it, Snapchat is just another app designed for behavior that allows them to post porn so that it disappears a few minutes later. Gone into the ether….or so they think! It might benefit him to stay in class and actually learn something that is not typed on a screen. Or maybe actually have REAL conversation with people rather than avatars. All in all, he didn’t do his homework and instead his comments are generalities he heard from others.
    Your Master Andrew needs to actually WORK outside of school before his degree even means we should listen. A degree does not make him an expert.

    • GGG

      This post is entirely irrelevant. The TL/DR of this guy’s article is “here’s what platforms people my age DO use, and here’s which one’s we don’t.” Our opinion or idea is completely moot. Hundreds of my friends are still on Facebook so it’s certainly not dead, but we’re all closing in on 30. Unless your working a band to AAA exclusively, you should know what the under 20 crowd is looking at.

      • Anonymous

        The biggest demographic i see on facebook are older people or retired people… Most people my age give or take 10 years either way are either not on it, myself included most the time, dont use it hardly ever, and if they do its posting baby pictures or cat videos or memes or else to post relevant informational articles…

        Sure people try and use it and hammer stuff but those people almost always just get hidden.

        No one i know or see uses it as a music discovery site. It will go MySpace music wise however is obviously well rounded that it wont hurt it overall too much like it did MySpace.

        As we saw with Sean Mendes with Vine, and some more to come im sure, and as we saw with MySpace back in its hey day et all, you have to jump on these social media things really soon for it to have the boost to break a career, if thats how you want to break.

        It still has its relevance, but none of these things are really the best way to engage people if you ask me, especially as the world becomes more and more cynical.

      • Name2

        This won’t end well. Does no one remember “The man can’t bust our music.”?

  5. Jake

    Linda – you’re shitting me right? He hit the nail on the head. Other than his comments on Twitter. Twitter is a great news/sports/celebrity social site that gets you everything you need to know in 160 characters or less. Very useful. You don’t have to be a genius to know what the kids are using, you just have to be a kid. Bravo Andrew.

    • lvl

      TL;DR “But Twitter was used a few weeks ago with an important hashtag”
      Yes. But I would contend that Andrew’s claims about it still hold true for most teens.

  6. Anonymous

    $100 000 / vine, that’s like $3 600 000 / hour . That is ballin! That guy may be the smartest guy on the planet if he actually lands some gigs at that price.

    That would be a more interesting study, to peel away someone like his whole life to see exactly how we was able to get himself in a position to charge millions of dollars per hour, cause there certainly does not seem to be much money flowing around anywhere like it sounds some of these people make.

    • Anonymous

      I’d also be very interested in how something like that was achieved. Looking for new ways to make decent money, whatever the work may be, and some of these people seem to be making ridiculous amounts of money doing decent work. There is no money to be made in music on the content creation side of things, so these sorts of money making achievements deserve to be looked at more because a deep and thorough internet search leads you to very few legitimate ways to make decent money.

  7. Willis

    Teens like social networks that are graphically oriented (Instagram, Snapchat), because they don’t know how to read.

    • mer too

      Teens cannot read
      They can read money amounts when we GIVE it to them. Funny

    • Anonymous

      You actually have that backwards Willis.

      It isn’t the teens that dictate what they platform is like, its the psychologists making the stuff knowing how peoples brains, all ages of people, respond to things and what will give their platform or business or media or content the best chance of engaging dopamine or overall causing positive reactions and engagement that therefore keeps them coming back to login and post etc.

      Don’t be so hard on them, it isn’t their fault.

      Thank-you for your time.

  8. ChinoBandito

    It’s disturbing that a 19 year old in 2015 still thinks their Snapchat pictures are gone for good from the internet. Snapchat’s servers aren’t invincible.

    • so

      Can posts not be immediately screen shot? I really don’t get SnapChat.

  9. 25pc

    I’m 25, but I agree with most of what Andrew said. Facebook and even Twitter are somewhat antiquated. Linda is correct about being able to view Instagram activity, but it doesn’t put you on blast in the same way Facebook does, and it doesn’t linger around on your front-facing profile. I’m in a newer band and I know that soon, we’re going to have to become really active on YouTube and Tumblr… until those become obsolete. As Ari and some others always suggest, grab those fan email addresses 😀

  10. p a u ??

    what is comical on here is there are tons of people of the “older” generation on instagram and tumbler. fun was on tumbler in 2008. in NYC. I have the page to prove it. So were a ton of other people.

    So, um, ya. It’s all in what you like to use. and like others have said, Snapchat i just a place to show naughty bits to each other and not have tons of friends show their friends those said bits.

    ello for all.

    • Ken

      Apparently, quite a few people who read this article and then commented.

      From a commercial POV, today’s teens are tomorrow’s buyers. (In fact, in many cases, they are also today’s buyers).

  11. darkswim

    This article was awesome. Thats why I follow Ari’s take. But Patreon.com was not mentioned, understand-ably, but it soon will have to be.

  12. Anony

    This is one teens perspective and while there is truth to it, most of these opinions are biased to his own experiences.

  13. Kevin

    Obviously not this demographic but missed LinkedIn. Surprised late teens not prepping their online presence. Are they just ignoring it ‘cos they too young or not planning ahead? I look at trends for esocialselling.com . Her view of the pain of advertisers being shoved in newsfeeds would of been interesting; which I think its the worst idea ever yet social platforms are driving it regardless if users want it or if businesses can truthfully show a ROI.

  14. Anonymous

    I love how the kid says that Facebook is dead, but then elaborates that all teens have it and check it. Watch what they do, not what they say.

  15. Marc_e_Marc

    Dear Watts,
    You will change your mind, I promise.

  16. anon

    It’s interesting how you take one person’s opinion and automatically make it true for all teens. Stop your clickbait journalism .

  17. Versus

    “And it hasn’t been flooded with the “older generation” … yet. So it’s still hip.”

    Now this is funny. As far as I can tell, young and old are about tied in their general mediocrity and lowest-common-denominator conformity. I wouldn’t say either has a monopoly on being “hip”…and I am not sure being “hip” is anything desirable. Isn’t that like wanting to be “cool”?

    • Mike

      By “older generation” he just means his parents, teachers or anyone in any kind of authority position over them that would look down on them being just regular teenagers. You know, posting nudes, smoking pot, being d*cks to each other, etc. Stuff teenagers have done for the last the last 40+ years but now there is a record of it that could stay with them for years. Which is unfortunate. As an older generation, we should just forgive all of this stuff.

  18. Kyle Williams

    If you know your audience well enough you can focus on the one or two platforms that they prefer. The ultimate judge would be trying a platform out (in earnest) and paying attention to how much engagement you get. Or just ask people who come to your show or your email list.

  19. Buffalo Souljerk

    While these comment may or may not be representative of the current social state, there needs to be a spotlight on companies that bring things together for artists. I manage a few artists and have put them all on Music United (www.musicunited.com). From the standpoint of dealing with time spent on marketing, I can now manage all of the social accounts I need to through on place. So, it doesn’t matter who like what anymore, so long as I can blanket everything more easily.

  20. Anon

    What about Tackk? Seems like there are a lot of teens using it

  21. Alexander

    I thought Facebook died a couple years ago. When old people entered, I left.