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What does a 15yo girl think about social media?

The real-time social web: remember, 15 year-olds are the next wave of users moving into the Internet (with money to burn).

Not having a 15-year-old sister handy, I'm listening in on the thoughts of the young sister of Medium.com co-founder Josh Miller. Her thoughts and quotes are taken from here, the analysis is mine.

Miller writes that he'd twice been told of the "next big thing" by his sister (let's call her 'Beth' because I'm already tired of writing "John Miller's little sister!") when she said that Snapchat was going to be bigger than Instagram and earlier when she observed to him that Instagram was as popular with her pals as Facebook.

Instagram. 'Beth' observed that all her friends post photos of people rather than "nice pictures." Think about it - what does the average Joe do? He shares snaps of his friends and family; relying on the Pros (and adults) to take the "nice pictures" that we all marvel at. This means there will be many, many more snaps than nice pictures.

Further, Beth was of the solid opinion that with an endless stream of images of people, Instagram is a better friends feed than Facebook.

Facebook. Speaking of Facebook, 'Beth' and her friends avoid it because "It's addicting, you end up getting lost in it and I don't like that." She also mentioned that she will only visit Facebook when there's nothing left worth looking at on Instagram.

This sounds like an interesting play for the guys at Facebook. Rather than trying to integrate Instagram into Facebook, they should be more interested in targeting the various sub-products at appropriate demographics.

Instant Message. 'Beth' and her friends rarely use IM to talk with each other. "When you go on Facebook Chat the people you don't want to talk to are always the ones who immediately chat with you." Instead they'll use iMessage or Snapchat (there it is again!).

Read on for 'Beth's' opinion of other social media services.

Email. What is that? Josh noted that the last time he sent something to Beth's Gmail account, she couldn't even remember the password! This is very likely to change as Beth reaches university where, despite the desires of the students, email is the institution's communication medium of choice.

Snapchat. "It's a way to connect with friends when you don't really have anything to say." In other words, despite what the designers of Snapchat intended or expected, it is being used as a communication tool.

Twitter. 'Beth' has bad news for Twitter. "Nobody uses it. I know you love it but I don't get it. I mean, I guess a few kids use it but they're all the ones who won't shut up in class, who always think they have something important to say." Is this an opportunity for Twitter? Miller thinks so, but I'm less sure - it's very difficult to get take-up from a demographic that has abandoned you.

So, what does all this mean for the future?

It would seem that new products have limited control over the demographic that contributes the strongest uptake, but for any product which achieves a strongly focussed demographic, it is difficult to acquire a younger audience; instead you're probably stuck with growing old with the audience you have.

Taking a somewhat opposite tack and thus seeking where a new product might find an opening, New York Times' Jenna Wortham observes the fact that Snapchat (and Facebook's near-identical Poke) requires instant images - there is no ability to access stored photos from within the device. "This is a variation of the same impulse that made Chatroulette a viral hit, and something that Apple has tried to capture with FaceTime, Google with its Hangouts, even Color's ill-fated last and final iteration. It's enough to make me think that the real real-time social Web is coming, in one form or another."

The "real real-time social web."  A concept for the next round of products to consider (if they aren't already, of course).  

What would it look like?  Readers are invited to share their thoughts below.


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