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Youth and Social Networks

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Hugo Brunner, 23 June 2020

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Young people and social networks this couple has always seemed to go without saying. Defined, qualified and redefined many times over the past 15 years. Without ever deciding on an absolute truth, several perceptions of this population coexist and the echoes of their definitions sometimes call for some interpretation. Or even, feed some fantasies and prejudices, each going to his comment. The alphabet nomenclature is essential to designate them.

Generation C for Communication, Collaboration, Connection and Creativity. Among the letters a trio is particularly recurrent. The X would have opened the way to the famous generation Y of the digital natives or millennials not exceeding 35 years old today, to differentiate from Z whose elders do not yet rise to the bar of 25.

The last ones in the running, ironically named K in reference to Katniss Everdeen, protagonist of the fiction Hunger Games, portray the portrait of teenagers who do not exceed the twenties, and project themselves with distrust vis-à-vis the future and the institutions in place.

Sequenced increasingly short, the generations are getting closer. Are they more different? Or better able to form a young identity? Collective and homogeneous in which they would recognize themselves? Hard to say. Certainly linked by a lack of recognition, in their digital uses the break between the X and Y is obvious, the differences between the Y and Z-K are notable and the Tweens (9-14 years) tend to follow them.

Map digital migrations.

Facebook is the first indicator of this. The social giant is a victim of its success. Despite the regular integration of new features that led to their loss Forsquare, Vine and others. This time, taking up the technical specificities of the challengers who refuse to join their ranks is not enough. The Y-ys slow down the pace of their posts, exposing themselves more sparingly and the Zs have already started to desert towards networks that value creation while promising them a more controlled intimacy framework.

Closely followed by Instagram, Snapchat becomes their new main residence. In France Snap ’welcomes only 11 million users, 75% of whom do not exceed 25 years of age. But the more active latter get involved more easily and spend more time there.

Precursors, 15-25s are more inclined to venture into niche networks. They were in the majority on Vine. They are today on Musical.ly, the Chinese outsider at the gates of the media ad opening. Our young people are jostling there to edit and share their mini karaoke clips

They will be tomorrow on the network which will be able to offer them useful and fun characteristics. It is therefore important to keep an eye on these opportunities … without obsessing about them.

Because with its 731 million Internet users, in China every network as specific as it is, very quickly finds its audience. And sees its community reaching a sufficiently attractive minimum size. In the United States and Europe, unless it is bought and integrated by one of the major players in the market, the slower process can take several years.

New demands, driven by new habits.

The under 25 stand out for their relation to time. Less affected than their elders by OM FOMO ’, the constant fear of missing something. They spare themselves a part of their anxiety linked to infobesity. And like to use themselves without apprehension in ephemeral, direct and microphone contents.

But that is not to say that they are not demanding. The networks that engage them the most are like personal branding showcases on which they decide to expose themselves. However on Instagram where publications are more and more creative, the ‘beautiful and neat’ is required. This encourages them to work their imagination and increase the quality of their renderings in the same way as those which circulate in their sons.

They will therefore refuse brands that try to insert themselves if they themselves do not play the game. They will be a little more lenient towards social media formats that approach native publications. What Snapchat understood very well. And kind to brands harmoniously staged by influencers.

This self-image control is carried out with more control. They avoid the digital pitfalls of their elders. More cautious, they limit leaks, come and go from intimacy to intimacy, this desire to make certain aspects of the self visible. They thus adjust their level of exposure according to the different degree of visibility of the spheres with which they juggle.

In short, they publish less… but better. More qualitative, better targeted, both more thoughtful and more spontaneous publications. Which raises paradoxes. Because many claim a committed transparency while continuing to stage. (#nofilter).

Publish less, to publish better, and observe more! Even observe a lot. An observation that they themselves judge to be anxiety-provoking, when it comes to the Instagram-Snapchat duo very focused on the cult of the image and the exposure of social life. And conversely very rewarding on YouTube.

But it also reminds us that networks are not just for communication. There is a real expectation in terms of content. So you don’t have to be over-active or over-engaged on a network to use it. Besides, none of the K, Z, Y (or X) have signed an exclusivity contract.

The usefulness of redefining the social value of networks

They calibrate their content in the same way as their channel and flutter in a joyful cacophony yet well organized. The medium becomes a message. Our young people choose one or the other according to the level of proximity of their recipient, their mood, their needs.

In addition, networks all have a utility that goes beyond the frameworks of interpersonal exchange and expression of identity. These generations use them to fuel their curiosity, their need for entertainment, to organize themselves or to take advantage of particular services. Events, announcements and universal messaging with Messenger for Facebook, creative aesthetics for Instagram and Pinterest, follow the news on twitter, learn on YouTube, communicate from abroad with WhatsApp … the list is long and constantly evolving.

It is therefore important for brands to understand why and how their young target audience uses a network. What are their intentions? What are they going to look for there? In what specific contexts do they use it? In what contexts can they interfere in their privacy?

Once that is assimilated. They are free to be useful, to entertain, to be an accomplice, to provoke and surprise by diverting the uses in place.

Basic reminders

If we do not encourage begging for reactions to increase the statistics of a page, brands should not deprive themselves of the feedback from their young social audiences. It can be collected naturally and transform open questions, direct feedback on received publications into valuable marketing indicators … Or encourage you to go and find the conversations created around the brand. Succeeding in intercepting user content that values ​​the brand and reaching out to the author can prove to be a profitable strategy. The latter will not fail to feel as valued, and its neutrality will grant you credit.

The evolution of the brand-consumer power relationships induced by the networks is nothing new. Anticipate the link to your After Sales Services. Do not underestimate the social weight of this generation. The most able will mobilize their community to tarnish your reputation if they feel the need.

Feel free to respond at the right time. A trait of spirit or even a light production well mounted can have a lot of scope without even having been premeditated. Also, preparing conversational activation materials in advance can be useful.

Social networks, even if they have become a less crude representation of what the Zs expose themselves, remain a wonderful field of study to learn about your audience, understand their interests, anticipate the conversations in which you can insert you. The taming of data also offers you new opportunities. In particular, it gives you the freedom to experience ultra-segmented or hyper-contextualized campaigns with high impact and lower cost.

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