Social Media Snapchat
11 August 2016

Social networks: inside the mind of a teenager

At 17 years old, I am part of a generation that is completely integrated in the world of social media. I have just completed work experience at onechocolate, and being surrounded by pros made me realise that I am in no way an expert on this. However, I can give my thoughts on what my age group love, what we hate, and what we want from social media in the future.

With this in mind, here are my top three social media platforms that me and my friends can’t live without right now!

#1 Facebook
Ask anyone between the ages of 14-18 and most of them will say that the first social media profile they created was Facebook. Be warned though: people my age, myself included, are currently losing interest in this platform. We don’t want to share our lives with everyone anymore; we realised very early on that not everyone needs to know what you are doing 24/7. We also definitely don’t care about that girl who we met 5 years ago is having a great time abroad. Another massive reason why we are put off is our parents using Facebook. It’s sadly true that when something becomes popular with our parents’ generation, it’s not ‘cool’ anymore. We would rather find something new and exciting that they can’t stalk us on.

But it’s not all negative! We still love sitting with friends and watching funny videos. We want to show our friends things we find, especially things which we can laugh about together. What do we want from Facebook now? Interesting, innovative images and videos that grab our attention. We love cool graphics and photography to flick through. We are more likely to click on a video that looks interesting and informative than a post with a huge paragraph of text that we won’t want to read. It’s simply too time consuming when we only have a short time to kill!

#2 Instagram
My favourite app right now, without a doubt, is Instagram. Although I am quite ashamed to admit, I am constantly scrolling through my feed, double tapping people’s selfies and tagging my friends in photos uploaded from the likes of Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner.

But why do we love Instagram so much? The answer you may get from 17 year olds is because our parents haven’t caught onto it quite yet! In comparison with Facebook, we aren’t too bothered about how many followers we have – that’s old news. Furthermore, we aren’t fooled by someone who posts a photo and easily racks up 500+ likes as we know they probably bought them or used copious amounts of hashtags.

Drawing my attention on Instagram is quite easy. I love seeing original high-definition photos that are imaginative and aren’t edited loads. I love seeing deals from my favourite brands – it’s a much better way to hook me than loads of adverts on social media sites that we are unlikely to click on, because it feels like stepping into a trap! As Instagram has matured, something that I’ve noticed is that many users have actually stopped using hashtags. Gone are the days when a paragraph of hashtags would gain more likes and followers. Tagging a few words is still acceptable though so choose them wisely!

#3 Snapchat
Snapchat is the newest of the three and in my opinion the most innovative. It was the most exciting thing in the world at school; it was all anyone could talk about weeks after its launch. Sending photos of our faces and writing a message or drawings that disappeared after a chosen amount of time was fun and new! From experience, more girls are using Snapchat than boys. But if you ask my friends, they will say they love it because we can send weird or ugly photos of ourselves, which is more acceptable because it will disappear and can’t be found again (thank goodness!).In my circle of friends, our favourite thing to do is send each other photos using geofilters that are updated every day  and I honestly don’t think we will ever get bored of this. Geofilters are popular too – for example, Soho has some pretty cool Snapchat geofilters that let people know where I am. Creating ‘stories’ (a photo or video that all of their contacts can see) has become an easy way to show what we are up to in a less invasive than Facebook.

The best way to use Snapchat in my opinion would be by creating a geofilter that is fun and creative. It can be used by so many people and be sent round to spread a message that can be inspiring or silly. However, it isn’t OK to upload a 20 minute ‘story’ of everything you’ve got up to that day – we definitely won’t watch it if it’s longer than two minutes or if it’s just videos of your dog. However, if done right, having brands on Snapchat can be really effective. Some are already using it as a social media platform and if the videos are engaging and imaginative – for example, Sour Patch Kids stories – we will really enjoy watching them. We also will be a bit more forgiving if you upload throughout the day; it’s less annoying than when our friends do it!

So what can the PR pros learn from this? My generation want new and exciting ways to share what we are doing without it being too personal or too serious. If it’s fun, light-hearted and also a way to express ourselves, we are more likely going to enjoy it.

I’m not sure what kind of things I’ll be sharing or posting in five years time. When I started using social media five years ago I would write a status more than 10 times a day about really cringe-worthy things! We definitely have moved away from writing posts and everything we do now is much more visual. This is why I think apps like Instagram and Snapchat will continue to be the most popular and a great opportunity for brands.