Youth social media – is Snapchat really just a way of escaping our parents on Facebook?

Snapchat has been all over the blogosphere recently, with headlines such as ‘Do you Snapchat? Your Child Does’ (which frankly, I think is a little ominous) and ‘5 Reasons Every Business Should be on Snapchat’.  Snapchat clearly has some serious comms and marketing potential, but every time I read one of these blogs I get more frustrated! A variant on this sentence appears in every single post:

“Teens and young people are moving towards social media platforms such as Snapchat to escape their parents, who are now on Facebook”

There are no analytics, no feedback, there isn’t even any lasting content (theoretically, anyway). So why do these marketing bloggers think that they understand how and why young people are using Snapchat?

Firstly, it might technically be a social media platform, but in my experience no one under 25 would actually qualify it as such.  It’s a direct messaging service, where you send pictures and text back and forth between your friends.

Secondly, it isn’t a choice between Facebook and newer applications like Snapchat and Whatsapp. I saw one article that said Whatsapp was “Robbing users from Facebook and Twitter”. Who are the swathes of people promptly deleting their Facebook and Twitter accounts and solely using Whatsapp?! I certainly haven’t met any of them, probably because Whatsapp has a completely different function to Facebook as a social tool.

Snapchat_logo

 

Thirdly, onto the parental issue.  An article in the Guardian analysed a Reddit thread asking teenagers from around the world “What’s cool nowadays?” and concluded that the only universally cool thing was Snapchat, “not least because it’s the one place where parents can’t snoop on their photos.” Although lots of people on the thread answered Snapchat, none of them stated snooping parents as the reason why. Actually, Snapchat is pretty cool because it’s an app that allows you to send a selfie to your friends with no make-up on while you twist your face into something gruesome and it will be deleted in 10 seconds. If you don’t want your parents to see your photos on Facebook, there are plenty of ways around it – don’t ‘friend’ them, block them, make sure your profile isn’t public, or my personal favourite, add them so that they’re lulled into a false sense of security, and then change your privacy settings so that they in particular can’t see any of your photos or posts.

Current data suggests that young people are using Facebook less, and I’m sure that privacy from parents is a factor, but what if it’s just a small factor? The overall trend on Facebook is towards less interaction, but maybe everyone is just missing the point as to why. Maybe the problem isn’t that young people’s parents specifically are on Facebook, but that everyone is?

A British 18 year old with the username UberNoobSB on the Reddit thread mentioned above left the following comment, which I think makes my point better than I ever could:

“I’m 18 and hating cool things is cool. Facebook gets popular? Suddenly it’s overcrowded.”

I’m 20, and I Snapchat my mum all the time so marketers who make assumptions about my age group are being short-sighted. Want to know what we get up to in our spare time? Well, we mostly try to avoid any form of traditional marketing. Sorry, but we make the rules now!

 

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