06 March 2010

Of course Twitter isn't for Teens!

Twitter is doomed because teens don't use it
Twitter is for geezers - Why Facebook will win

The media and the pundits seem to be obsessed with (repeatedly) uncovering the "story" that research shows teenagers don't like/use Twitter. Then then interpret this as meaning that Twitter will fail - in many cases because (in their mind) Facebook will "beat" them.

So let's quickly debunk this bullshit as it's getting really annoying.

1 - Of course teenagers don't use Twitter!!

First of all, teenagers don't have careers. In their personal hierarchy their jobs and their professional growth rank somewhere below dental hygiene. In looking at Twitter, "personal brand management" is a significant use-case. This largely takes the form of kudos-creating punditry and link sharing. Through creation of a perception of expertise and influence your professional brand is increased and awareness of you and your brand is created. For teenagers this is not only a bizarre concept it is literally a meaningless one. So that eliminates one of the major current value propositions of Twitter.

Secondly, most teenagers have largely localized social networks. In other words.... their friends are in physical proximity to them. Twitter (so far) doesn't function well when it comes to facilitation of real-world local activities. And as most teenagers haven't see the "social graph diaspora" that typically occurs post-college, there is no need for a tool to manage that exploded network - which is a major secondary value proposition for Twitter.

Third, most teenagers are less "network" focused in their social activities than they are "group" focused. Identity is largely about the group or groups you are a part of (and perhaps more importantly those who your group rejects). For insight on this I would point to both the works of Rene Girard and (of course) the seminal work Lord of the Flies. In this manner, teenagers are profoundly unsuited for an asymmetric model like Twitter's.

So yes - Twitter just flat out doesn't make sense for Teenagers. And this should not be something shocking or bizarre or hard to understand. It is obvious and logical.

2 - This is not a bad thing.

See.... here is the thing.
Everyone grows up.

Look at the above explanations for why teenagers are not attracted to (or in fact are repelled by) Twitter. As someone stops being a teenager and becomes a young adult they begin to become more confident in their own self-image and group affiliation becomes less and less critical. They experience the geographic explosion of their social graph post college. Jobs and a career become more and more strongly prioritized in their own personal hierarchy.

In other words.... all those teens who currently reject Twitter will one day be the core users of it.

I really hope this puts this to rest because I, personally, am really sick of this ridiculous repeated "story."

03 March 2010

Quote of the Day

"It’s easy to say “preserve the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new,” but in revolution, the best of the new is incompatible with the best of the old. It’s about doing things a whole new way." - Clay Shirky