Teens are NOT abandoning Facebook, Twitter — at least that’s what my students say

After reading this story on Quartz, I figured I needed to verify this ongoing debate about teens abandoning Facebook and Twitter for more “private” and “intimate” alternatives like Snapchat or Facebook Messenger.

So I posted this story to both my classes in digital publishing. And here’s what they said. (But before I go listing down their reasons, they all agreed, they’re NOT migrating away from Facebook or Twitter anytime soon).

Disclaimer: This is NOT based on any scientific method such as random surveys of a certain demographic of Filipino teenagers. What you are about to read are personal observations & notes from two groups of students in my PUBLISH class.

  1. They are using various social media as channels for specific communication purposes. Facebook is seen as a public square where they are less keen on sharing private and intimate matters. They move from one social media network to another based on the perceived level of privacy. (Facebook has some privacy settings, guys).
  2. Facebook is where old people congregate–some teens admit to blocking their parents–an idea that baffled me, considering I have daughters on Facebook!
  3. They talk a lot through messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Viber, WeChat, etc. That’s their version of a water-cooler effect–a phenomenon where people gather in a certain area to chat.
  4. Twitter is where they post random thoughts, rants, and opinions about things that matter to them. They go to Twitter to argue a point. They also see Twitter as source of news about politics, the society and celebrities.
  5. Snapchat, to them, is a “private social network,” but it is NOT for everyone. They believe that Snapchat is designed for more “narcissistic” fellows— or those who want to share moments in their lives to smaller group of trusted friends.
  6. Snapchat is where you post crazy stuff, one of my students said. I asked if they are willing to add me as a friend on Snapchat. I got jeers and grunts. Not a good idea.
  7. Not all students in my class are on Snapchat. But they are all on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter & Instagram. Some say all social media platforms are important, but to a certain degree. They have preferences. But they admit that they love to TALK all the time, thus social media networks are perfect channels for this compulsion. (Fellow teachers, your students are talkative, albeit virtually, during classes).
  8. Facebook, to some students, is useful for school matters. Ha! I do require them to be in a Facebook group. But there are alternatives like — er, Slack, anyone?
  9. Again, they all insist that THERE IS NO MASS MIGRATION from Facebook/Twitter to Snapchat and messaging services.
  10. Teens feel lost in more “adult-driven” conversations that fill-up their feeds. They feel that Facebook is clogged with topics that they don’t care about. Thus, they gravitate towards simpler and accessible services like Snapchat.
  11. Meanwhile, one student went on to say that she’s getting annoyed by her 12-year-old sister’s random postings coupled with emoticons.

This debate about teens and millennials moving away from Facebook and Twitter will become less of an issue, as the younger generation discover niche communities where their voices are heard. Facebook and Twitter are both becoming global platforms where conversations are varied. There’s too much noise in these platforms. It’s a natural progression for human beings to socialize with people who share their same interests–and of course, who are of the same age and demographic.

It’s hard to imagine young people abandoning Facebook and Twitter because there are alternatives. There’s this FEAR OF MISSING OUT #FOMO, which still pervades their thinking.

On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter represent permanence on the Internet. The Snapchats of this world represent platforms that offer respite from regret of posting a mistake or a bad joke, which we sometimes, we do commit.

But isn’t it that the Internet has a long-term memory of the world. It’s our modern record of human history, sliced thinly into bits and bytes.

My top 5 favorite resource for digital publishing

There’s so much information out there. I’m drowning in it everyday. But there are at least five sites that I keep going back to because  of (1) compelling content and insightful writers; (2) variety and practicality stories; (3) useful insights and information you can take with you after reading. Of course, it’s up to you if you act on these information.

NiemanLab: According to this website, “The Nieman Journalism Lab is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.” Stories here are quite long, but mostly worth the read. TL;DR be damned. “We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them. We are fundamentally optimistic.”

 Medium.com: My daily diet for stories about technology, the industry, arts, culture, science, money, television, or whatnot. It’s just a treasure trove of good writing in long or short-form. What’s good about Medium is that you can *follow* people and topics, and you can annotate articles via a unique system of commenting. Finally, Medium allows you to become part of this growing community if you pass their standards of writing. From a content consumer, you can become a content producer here.

 Digiday.com: I stumbled upon this site just last year as I was researching on publishing topics. This website is fairly a newcomer. But it features a lot of insights, interviews, and features on brands, publishing, agencies, and digital platforms. The writing is short, some are even in bullet-point style. Lots to bookmark from this site. So, go.

PBS MediaShift:  As the site’s kicker says, this is “Your Guide to the Digital Media Revolution.” There’s so much information here, including your usual “must-reads” on digital publishing, journalism education, links to more resources, etc.

CJR.org. Call me traditional, but this academic website that is produced by the world’s top journalism school remains a daily dose for those wanting to understand the context of media. Insights, commentaries, and news analysis are provided here. Also, they offer fresh and basic perspectives on digital media.

Its mission:

Columbia Journalism Review’s mission is to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Founded in 1961 under the auspices of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, CJR monitors and supports the press as it works across all platforms, and also tracks the ongoing evolution of the media business. The magazine, offering a mix of reporting, analysis, and commentary, is published six times a year; CJR.org weighs in daily, hosting a conversation that is open to all who share a commitment to high journalistic standards in the US and around the world.

There you go. If you have your own list of top sites to go to for digital publishing, please do share with me or leave a comment below. Thanks!

We The Media Revisited: Of showbiz talk shows and celebrities

We The Media Revisited: Of showbiz talk shows and celebrities

[REVISED & UPDATED] Two events prompted me to write this blog post.

One involved a celebrity calling out what appeared to be an insult hurled at a house-help in an exclusive resort. Another was news about the end of a long-time running showbiz talk show in a dominant television network.

At first, I found both stories amusing and trivial. But as I read and thought about it, I believe these two events are connected to a rising reality in media.

Let me set the context: ever since celebrities found love and power in social media, this medium has offered them new channel to genuinely and intimately connect with fans (this excludes celebs whose social media assets are “managed” by experts).

Social media has become their platform. How do I know this? My best examples are my two daughters and my wife. They all follow celebrities: my daughters do it through Twitter and Instagram, while my wife does through the latter “media.” They now know more than what TV-produced talk shows are showing every weekend. Weekend showbiz productions have become too passe since news breaks faster on social media. Check how many entertainment news are picked up or re-purposed from social media by traditional media. The first event that I cited in the beginning is one recent example.

Watching the popular showbiz talk show host explain why the producers of the show decided to call it quits, he said a lot of things have changed since they started in the late 90s when the Internet was at dial-up speeds.

“The world has changed…showbiz news reporting has changed,” he added.

(He is right. The world has changed, the audience has changed).

He also hinted that they might come back, but in a different form or format, or even not as a group of hosts, but individually.

He stressed that the interest in showbiz news has not waned; nor is the audience for talk shows. (Again, he is right in both counts). But where is the audience going? Who is your audience now and in the future?

If you want to survive and compete in the future, you must consider these observations: (1) A growing audience who don’t watch TV–at least on the TV that we old folks call the boob tube; (2) a new generation of audience growing up with celebrities whom they can follow everywhere, anytime, on any device. (This part is scary for parents like me because this is close to stalking–talk about fanaticism multiplied by 100x) but do consider the value of being able to talk to a celebrity directly; (3) a younger audience who are picky, multitasking, interactive, and often ready to share their opinion about their favorite celebrities; (4) an audience who idolize and immortalize celebrities through fan fictions and other creative endeavors found in communities like Wattpad or Tumblr. These are a few of the things that I have been observing directly from my kids–and they tell me there are hundreds of thousands of them doing the same thing. (I believe them!)

Meanwhile, the current and older audience of showbiz talk shows are shifting towards more convenient and ubiquitous devices with bigger screens that provide streams of celebrity news, photos, videos, and even strategic product placements on Instagram, Facebook and whatnot. Thanks to the Internet, celebrities can now (1) Tell or retell (some go to the extent of re-inventing) their own narratives; (2) manage their own fans; (3) strengthen and nurture their personal brand as they give fans a glimpse of their lives outside of the daily grind; and (4) endorse products and services, which in turn translate to direct revenue for them. (Wow!)

My wife gave me some examples: one involved a pretty young artista who eventually got married. She started sharing her family photos on Instagram, and often exploring creative themes and stories. Years later, this celebrity finds herself endorsing products again, thanks to a steady chronicle of her life on social media. (Personal brand building 101, folks!)

Then, we have the so-called YouTube sensations or the celebrity “bloggers” who are using their new-found stardom to churn out content or even services which they own or endorse. Some of the Internet celebrities eventually land shows on traditional media, but those who stay close to where they started seemed to have lasted longer. (Google: PewDiePie)

Dan Gillmor’s seminal work called “We The Media” talks about the tectonic shift in media, where the audience is now part of the conversation. Traditional talk shows (or traditional TV productions) will die, as the audience demands more transparency, immediacy, and feedback from celebrities. In fact, social media today is both a boon and the bane for celebrities. Not all celebrities know how to use it well. But for those who do, they’re reaping the benefits. (I can only think of Taylor Swift right now).

Gillmor wrote; “Tomorrow’s news reporting and production will be more of a conversation or a seminar. The lines will blur between producers and consumers, changing the role of both in ways we’re only beginning to grasp. The communication network itself will be a medium for everyone’s voice, not just the few who can afford to buy multimillion-dollar printing presses, launch satellites, or win the government’s permission to squat on the public airways.”

These words were written years ago. It’s funny that it still sounds current because it is the reality, and events such as the closing of a local showbiz talk show are signs of things to come for TV networks (and other forms of BIG MEDIA) which will be challenged by new business models and emerging technologies and services.

+++

If you like this article, do recommend it to others or share it on your social networks. What about you? What are your thoughts about this recent events? Drop me an email at erwin[dot]oliva[at]gmail.com.

*This think piece does not reflect the views of the company I work for or any organization I represent at the moment. But do leave a comment. Thanks and have a great day!

My Readings For the Week

A wise man once told me that if you need to market your product, THAT product  sucks. Well, that’s a sweeping statement but has some nuggets of wisdom especially in a fierce market where there is so much noise.

If you love “listacles” (short for list articles), here’s another one that compiles predictions on how marketing will be in the future. Read up on 25 Predictions on What Marketing Would Be Like in 2020. Here’s a great quote from Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Taco Bell: “At Taco Bell, we look at three approaches to content: Create, Co-Create, and Curate. Create is our own content, co-create is content created in partnership with consumers, and curate is taking the user generated content we like and showing it to more people. The most important ingredient in all of this is authenticity.”

The future instrument is a mix of creativity, engineering, design and software. Check out this instrument that got $80,000 in commitment through Kickstarter in 6 hours. Invented by musician Mike Butera who has a PHd in Sound Studies at Virgina Tech, this instrument, dubbed INSTRUMENT 1, is set to go sale anytime soon, after the group was able to demo its prototype.

I stumbled upon this minimalist & curated site called “Defringed.” It’s a term that many designers would know. What is this site about? It’s an online destination for creative content, chosen by their editors. The site, which I discovered through Ello.co, features design, photography, art, typography, architecture, etc. If you’re tired of the messy, cluttered social networks, bookmark this site. It’s worth your while.

Other alternative sites that I have discovered: Fusion.net (a site supposed to be designed for millennials); mic.com, which features news catering to the young people. Both sites are not as loud as Buzzfeed.com, but they also offer fresh insights and perspectives other than what you’ve grown tired of seeing on click-baiting websites.

The Unfiltered Social Media: Why We Need to Edit Ourselves

(UPDATED) MANILA, PHILIPPINES—I got my biggest shock tonight, as I was looking through my feeds on Facebook. I followed this certain profile after I stumbled upon video clips of the aftermath of an alleged “mis-encounter” between Philippine special elite Police forces and forces from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and a smaller faction known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

This same profile or person posted new videos tonight, and I clicked the video to see what it was. Then, for a few minutes, I saw a video of a dying soldier, lying on the ground, all bloodied. He was shaking and suffering. I then see a gun pointed at the fallen soldier. I could hear gunshots from the background. There was an apparent battle happening. The man holding the video then shoots the dying soldier several times until he was lifeless. At this point, I stopped the video, tagged it as too violent to show on Facebook, and un-followed the profile where this video was posted. (Update: I reported this video as inappropriate on Facebook. The next day, Facebook said it wasn’t taking down the video after consulting with the “community.” But it was tagging the video as content that can only be seen by users 18 and above).

For a moment, I was speechless, having just witnessed the violent cold-blooded murder of a young man sent to arrest two known terrorists hiding in that area. As the stories unfurled, a total of 44 special elite policemen died. Most of them brutally killed. (UPDATE: Police later confirmed that the video of the brutal slaying of a man was one of their elite policemen).

Seeing this disturbing video reminded me of my days with a news website. Our editors got hold of a video of a foreign hostage whose body part was being cut off by a group of rogue group operating in the Mindanao area. After a heated debate, our editors decided to hold off on publishing the video–an exclusive to the website. It was an editorial decision. A story about it, however, was published without the video clip.

This kind of decision was also apparent in news organizations like New York Times and Al Jazeera, both of which decided NOT to publish videos of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheading.

A Storyful compilation of what transpired in these media organizations could be seen at the end of this story. Both media organizations decided NOT to allow the ISIS propaganda to spread further by NOT publishing the video, while still reporting on this atrocious terrorist activities. This, despite the spread of the atrocious acts on social media.

Social media has its advantages in publishing breaking news and information, especially eye witness accounts often emerging during natural calamities, man-made tragedies and disasters, and other news where citizens are able to capture moments on a little mobile device armed with a recording mechanism. The video on the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office is an example of how social media became the channel for delivering breaking news, based on an eye witness account. But as we’ve seen later on cable news channels, the raw video showing a cop being killed by a man carrying a high-powered rifle was “edited out” and replaced with images. This was a deliberate move to tone down the violence seen in this eyewitness video.

The Mamasapano video clips that were spreading on the web were allegedly taken by those who killed the 44 policemen. The motivation behind the release of these video clips is still unknown, although the police have reportedly identified the source of one video showing the brutal slaying of a cop. As expected, mainstream media did not publish these disturbing clips on public television or on their websites. However, the video spread through Facebook and YouTube.

In an unfiltered environment such as Facebook, we could only do so much as to flag certain content as inappropriate. I still wear my journalist hat wherever I go. I have joined fellow citizens who have mourned the death of the #fallen44, and condemned the acts of these perpetrators. I also asked my friends on Facebook to stop spreading the controversial video—but some disagreed and said that it was the people’s choice.

I believe there is a huge difference between sharing news and sharing propaganda meant to spark hate, violence, and potentially chaos. I lean towards helping solve this issue by carefully weighing facts, and not twisting or manipulating them to fuel rage and hate.