Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Response to a Teenager's View on Social Media: Is Facebook Dead?

It's seems just about every other day that I see a tweet throwing out a link to something along the lines of 'Is Facebook Dead'. Rarely do I click and read the post, but I guess today I've got time on my hands while running experiments (or really, in typical grad student fashion, I'm putting off work I should be doing by embracing the internet instead).

The original article is here "A teenager's view on social media" and a part 2 is here "What teen's really think about youtube, google+, Redit and other social media" .

And I guess you could say, this is my 20-something's response. In the original article, By Andrew Watts, a student at U Texas, McCombs School of Business, Watts takes the reader through his (or possibly opinions of other's he's gathered) opinion on a number of social media platforms, so I guess I'll do the same.

But first! When I read the title including the word 'Teenager' I was expecting some the article to have been written by some stereotype teen (read 15-16 year old), female, iphone glued to her hand, dip-diddy-do da-daddy pays my cell phone, and credit card....etc etc.

Instead Watts is a 19 year old male, university student.... and in the nicest, most encouraging way, I say to you Andrew....teenager  is not how you should identify anymore, it just comes with poor pre-conceived notions, you are officially an adult, you can vote, enlist, and in regular countries (read not the US) purchase and consume alcohol to your hearts consent. You live on your own, are a university student, have real responsibility, and based on the fact that you are regularly writing online while likely juggling a dozen or so other extracurriculars, so should drop the classifier of teenager, and embrace the word adult. The even more attractive descriptor: 20-something, is just on the horizon for you!

With that out of the way, I'll point out that I'm still nearly 10 years older than Watts, and from that oh so high vantage point likely have an entirely different perspective. So let's get on to Facebook!
(social media icons available for free here)


Watts claims it's simple... Facebook is dead...and then details the many uses that is still has, why everyone pretty much still has it and uses it. For me, facebook is still very much alive, and I still check it probably every day, admittedly it certainly has changed since I first got my account back in 2006! I remember sitting in my dorm room, signing up from this relatively new (it had just become publicly accessible outside of colleges) Facebook thing, that I had to sign up for with my university email to join the McMaster group.

At the time it was the perfect tool to find the details of that hot guy in your calculus tutorial without seeming like a creep. Today it might still be, if the hot guy was signed up using his real first name (not his middle name as most of my friends use), had any information outside of his profile picture publicly available, and you were bold enough to actually friend him. OK so a google search might serve you better than the old find him on facebook.

Today I primarily use facebook to keep in touch with my family (who all live half way across the country). With friends (who now are spread literally all over the world). To stalk the photo albums of acquaintances who've recently traveled somewhere new, or gotten married. To keep up to date on who's gotten married/had kids from my elementary and high school classes. And to cry about the fact that I am almost 27 and have done none of those things. (jokes, that never happens!)

All said, while some of my friends have taken the bold step to delete facebook altogether, for as long as my mom still uses it, it will be an integral part of my social media life. While younger people might lament that all it's full of is babies, weddings and vacation photos, I say bring on the 200+ photo albums of your kid making different faces!


For Watts, instagram is where it's at y'all (young people say y'all right (ouff did I just say 'young people! how jaded am I?)). In short, more people may have facebook, but they're all posting on instagram instead. I mean why take a whole bunch of photos of your weekend in Banff, carefully select the best ones, post them into an album with witty captions and titles a month later... when you can share each photo, with all your followers, moments moments after it was taken. Don't forget the clever hashtag.

Ok that was mostly my sarcasm, what Watts breaks things down in to real numbers and observations. For instance someone might have 800 followers on instagram and get 250+ likes on a photo they posted there.

Hold on a second! is this person a celebrity! Cause I can barely get people I know in real life follow me on instagram, let alone heart something I post!

Reading further along into his comments on instagram he notes that it 'hasn't been flooded with the older generation yet'. Wait I think that's me. I think this comes down to a generational gap in purpose of use. While I do follow a select group of my friends on instagram, mainly I follow a lot of inspirational Yogis and drool over their ability to fold themselves in half, or press up into artful forearm balances with zero apparent effort. I also follow some youtubers (I secretly wish I could have their lives) and a number of #dogsofinstagram accounts... because I really want a puppy that badly.

As for what I post on instagram, it's rarely pictures of me or the people in my life, and more likely a photo of food, beer, or lego. I guess I'm just too old to understand, but I do check it nearly every day, and post once or twice a week.


Oh I love twitter! Have I told you about how much I love twitter, because I do! I really, really do!

But in general I completely agree with Watts on this one. Twitter is free of generational divides and is rather divided into those people who really 'get' twitter, those people who can't shut up, and those people who don't care.

I like to believe I belong in the first group. For a long time I was really sure about twitter, I've been on since 2008. But I've really only been 'on' for the last 2-3 years, when I began tweeting (and blogging) more regularly, grew my following and followers strategically, and began to start reaping the benefits. As a Calgary/Science/Yoga/Running twitter enthusiast, I have followers who fit those four categories primarily, which means twitter can be a great crowd sourcing tool for opinions around those topics. If I tweet out "where should Kevin and I go for dinner tonight" I can expect to get a quick response and good advice. If I tweet out "does anyone have recommendations on a running gps watch" the feed back I receive will (and has) likely influence my ultimate purchase.

I'm not the only one who has figured this out, and this my friends is the idea behind Klout. Not just the actual website, which determines your score and sets you up with free perks (I've managed to enjoy a few, even with my only middling score). But also just in general. You see, it turns out that consumers respond more to word of mouth (in person or online) than they do to traditional marketing. And while straight up paying a popular blogger/tweeter to rave about your product is usually quickly spotted for being disingenuous, giving free things to these same people can often result in good reviews (therefore good marketing).

And so tweeting about my reservations at the Calgary restaurant Charcut got me a free appetizer sent over from the manager. I've gotten free deserts at other restaurants following tweets featuring pictures of my entrees too. When I needed my winter tires put on, and most places in town had weeks long waiting lists, tweeting about it got me in for an appointment that day. Twitter though perks or contests has gotten me free food, free luggage, free drinks, free event tickets, free electronics, free stuff!

At this point I would point out again, my klout score is middling at 45 (The scale is from 0-100, Justin Bieber is the 100), and as for Twitter followers, I'm at 463 today. However, this is all organic. I have never sat down and said, today I'm going to try to raise my klout, or gain more followers (or disgustingly enough, but some people do it) I've never purchased followers. I just tweet about what I want, when I want, and with the people I like. A few years ago I didn't twitter, and then suddenly it became a thing for me.


I'll mostly skip this one because 1)The set of social media icons I downloaded didn't come with snapchat, 2) I use a Blackberry and still can't get on snapchat, and 3) based on the way I've seen it used by my boyfriend and his buddies, it's great for sending short videos of things you think are hilarious when you're hammered to your friends.

So I'll leave it to Watts on this one.

But I will say, social media marketing has infiltrated snapchat as well... for instance if you follow your favourite stores, you might just get a snapper with a one time coupon, or flash sale. In fact there's tonnes of examples on the way brands are using snapchat for more effective marketing.


In short, I have one, I occasionally use it, but since I maintain a full blog (or 4) I prefer to save content I want to blog for them, rather than share it on tumblr.

In response to Watts comments here: "Tumblr is a place to follow/be followed by a bunch of random strangers, yet not have your identity be attached to it." I understand what he's getting at, but I suggest there's a certain naivety here, in the sense that there may actually be anywhere online where you can exist independent of your real life identity. Sure for brief periods yes, or if you remain quiet enough that no one cares, or if you share almost nothing from your own life and make it a full time job to be anonymous, and hope that when you slip up no one notices. Sure you can operate under a pseudonym but then you will eventually fall into one of two categories 1) too boring to care who you really are or 2) someone will find out. I've seen this happen in the online community, as well as with a coworker, and chances are, when you do get found out, either you, or someone you care about might get hurt by what was said under assumed anonymity.

Watts may have been getting at the idea that tumblr is a great place to post things without worrying about what all your in real life acquaintances will think (ie express your inner lego-nerd without losing your role as one of the cool kids (attention: lego-nerds are the cook kids, get your priorities straight)). But I am and always will be an advocate of be yourself, your true self online. If you are posting something online you feel you should have to hide your real identity to post, then maybe you shouldn't.

Like the saying goes "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

I'll skip past Yik Yak, Medium, Kik and GroupMe, because I've never heard of them before. WhatsApp I'll just say, I think it's a cross platform msg app, and I'll comment briefly on LinkedIn and Pinterest.


Basically your online resume. Get it once you're out of high school (like Watts says), and update it as often and as professionally as you would your own resume.

This can be an amazing tool when you're job hunting, and I've written a whole other lengthy post on optimizing your LinkedIn profile here.


I'll briefly say, Watts probably isn't the target demographic for pinterest, and I probably am.

I keep the 'PinIt' button at the top of my browser so when I come across a great recipe/DIY/book/decor idea/vacation spot etc while I'm browsing the web, I can save it onto the corresponding board. Then I come back to those boards when I need inspiration (or Pinspiration if you will). Sometimes if I'm board I browse and pin things from other peoples boards.

This post has gotten massively lengthy, so I'll do just like Watts and deal with the rest of social media in a Part 2 tomorrow!

In closing, Andrew Watts, I massively enjoyed reading your posts, they inspired the heck out of me to write my own version, and that truly is the best compliment I can give anyone! I'm following you on twitter now, and can't wait to see what else you have to say!


  1. Great summary. I got into Facebook reluctantly, and I'm still a bit wary. I didn't see the point of Twitter for a long, long time, and only recently joined. Now I love it. Plus LinkedIn and my blog, and that's it for this social media recluse.

  2. I am so, so glad that I wasn't the only one who thought that Watt's article read like a grown up version of that kid who was going to die if he couldn't tell you about all of the dinosaurs he knows.

    He's right in some respects, but good lord, man! You're 19. You grown. Fetch me a 12 year old going on 21 and let's see what they have to say.