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 video-sharing 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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