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Facebook, like, doesn’t even go here!*

August 12, 2013

Facebook is it. It buried MySpace (remember that?) and became so popular that an enormously popular movie was released based on the story of how Mark Zuckerberg defeated the evil Winklevii and released our favorite distraction so we could play Candy Crush instead of working on those revisions we should be toiling over. When Facebook went public last year–and crashed–it was one of the biggest stories of the year. And when they change the timeline, people react with anger that was previously reserved for $4.00 a gallon gas prices.

Except according to a recent article in Mashable, Facebook isn’t all that (or whatever expression tweens use these days) any more. The article’s author, a real, honest-to-goodness 13-year-old girl named Ruby Karp, says that Facebook is, among other things, the place where her grandma is. And while thirteen-year-old girls still have a soft spot for Grandma, they aren’t attracted by the social media outlet where Grandma posts cat pictures and tells her how loved she is.

Ms. Karp says, in fact, that none of her friends have Facebook accounts, preferring Instagram and Twitter, along with places called Vine and Snapchat instead. Aside from the grandma factor, she sites the complication of the Facebook feed and its recent decision to include ads in your feed. There’s also the fact that parents are there and they might see the pictures of their precious little one at a party where there’s underaged drinking–which requires a different conversation for a different blog.

According to her, teens are abandoning Facebook and going after the next big thing. And if you think about what it’s like to be a teen, the fact that your parents like something is reason enough not to like it. Your parents, liking something cool? As if!

Put another way, if my parents came home and told me to go watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High, there’s no way I would have done so. But they never would, and Fast Times seemed resonate to some degree, even though I was out of high school by the time it came out. The fact that my parents didn’t know about Fast Times and weren’t there to watch it were among the things that drew me to it. (That and the fact that it was a funny useful movie.)

So what does this mean to you as a writer?

  • Social media is always changing. Today’s Facebook could become tomorrow’s MySpace. Recent history is teeming with dead social networking options. If you lean too heavily on a single platform and it disappears, you might have to start from scratch.
  • If you want to reach out to teens and tweens, aside from finding stories and characters that have meaning, you need to be where your audience is. I like to think I’m relatively current when it comes to social media and I don’t even know what Vine and Snapchat are. (I’ll probably go look now, if for no other reason than to ruin it for my children.) But that’s where your audience is and given its relative youth, it’s an opportunity for you to connect with your readers in ways people haven’t done.

Just be aware, the very act of your going to the new places and connecting will be part of what eventually makes them yesterday’s news (which is to say, not trending), and drives people to even newer places.

* — If you don’t get the reference in the title, that’s part of the point. It’s from Mean Girls and my daughter says I don’t get it either. What does she know? She’s a hoser.


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