Social Ranking: How Millennials & Teens Really Feel About The Platforms They Use

This week we're counting down our five most popular articles of 2016 so far, and giving all our readers access to one each day. Here is the 3rd most clicked, originally published Jan 4, 2016.  Enjoy!

What do 13-33-year-olds really think of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and the other sites they're spending the most time on?

Our most clicked article of 2015 was Millennials & Teens Sound Off: Their Top 10 Favorite Apps. It makes sense—brands are now understanding that if they want to reach young consumers, they need to tailor marketing for the media and entertainment they’re spending the most time consuming, and knowing which they love the most is a huge advantage. In that article, we reported that Instagram was at the top of their top ten favorite app list, beating out Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and more.

But they’re using multiple platforms for multiple purposes, so in one of our most recent surveys of young consumers, we took our exploration of their social media preferences to a new level. Which social platform do Millennials and teens think is the most fun? The most boring? The most addictive? We got 1000 13-33-year-olds to sound off on the social media that they use, and got the real scoop on how they rank the apps and sites they're hooked on. 

We had young consumers look at a list of positive and negative descriptors, and asked them to choose the social media app that they felt is best described by each. The result is a snapshot of their range of feelings on these platforms. Here’s an overall look at which apps were most likely to be chosen for each descriptor, for 13-33-year-olds overall:  

Facebook's ubiquitousness for young consumers is clear here. They see the site as the most popular, addictive, authentic, boring, and annoying all at once. FB's wide range of functions are a factor: because so many things are done on the platform (photos, status, news sharing, etc.) it can play more than one role in users' lives, and evoke many different feelings. 

Arguably, YouTube performed the best in the positive attribute list, ranking the highest for the most descriptors, and not coming in the top three position for any of the negative list. Interestingly, Twitter has a bit of the opposite problem, coming up as the second most annoying and most mean platform overall, and not ranking in the top three for any of the positive attributes. In our social media use tracker, we have seen Twitter use plateau amongst young consumers, while visually-driven Instagram (which ranked as one of the most popular, addictive, and creative) has seen use steadily climb. 

Of course, we've talked before about the difference between older Millennial and teen social media users, and a look at the rankings according to age presents some interesting differences. Here is a comparison of the top picked app for each descriptor among 13-17-year-olds and 18-33-year-olds: 

For 13-17-year-olds, Facebook ranked as the most authentic platform, but did not rise to the top for any other positive descriptors. This indicates a weakness in Facebook's perception among its youngest users: it's not standing out from the crowd. These are consumers who are more accustomed to specialized social media, apps and sites that have taken just one Facebook's many features and made it a focus. The competition is possibly drowning out the originator. For teens, YouTube is clearly the most highly regarded site, coming up as the most addictive, creative, fun, and innovative. 

Facebook's difficulties with young users is also clear when we look at the age comparison for the negative descriptors: 

Here, Facebook is the most annoying and ties as most boring for teens. While Twitter takes those dubious honors among 18-33-year-olds. 

Those who read our first paragraph might be wondering why Instagram, which ranked as Millennials and teens' favorite app, is also the one they see as the most fake. We explored this dichotomy in our most recent Ypulse Quarterly: while young consumers have perfected the art of looking perfect on social, and the platforms have become an integral part of their lives, there is an awareness of the dangers of social media illusion. In addition, while they believe they personally are conveying their true selves on social media, they perceive others' posts as less authentic. 

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The Newsfeed

“I observe holidays and religion-based traditions but am more connected to it as a culture than as a religion.”—Female, 27, MA

Chinese youth have a “selfie obsession” that’s changing beauty standards and creating a new tier of celebrity. The Influencer Effect is full blown in China, where young consumers are beautifying their selfies via filter apps like Meitu and plastic surgery—all in the quest to look more like wang hong, their internet celebrities. One influencer, HoneyCC, argues that “Selfies are part of Chinese culture now, and so is Meitu-editing selfies.” But some say the trend is pushing the population to become more homogenous by favoring certain features, and headlines have lashed back against the whitening of skin prevalent in social apps. (The New Yorker)

Eighty-one percent of Bustle, Romper, and Elite Daily’s Millennial readers say social media is the best way for advertisers to reach them. Bustle’s latest questionnaire also found that 40% of their 18-34-year-old readers prefer Instagram for brand communications, followed by trusted websites, email, and online articles. Some other fun insights: Over half believe that a company should give back, instead of just turning a profit, and 49% think “companies should do more to protect the environment.” (Adweek)

Drug use is down among teens—except when it comes to marijuana and vaping. From the 1990s to 2017, the percentage of teens who said they’d been drunk dropped from 46% and 58%, and those reporting they’ve smoked cigarettes from 26% and 17%. However, marijuana use increased for the first time in seven years in 2017, while vaping is up as well, with at least 19% of high school seniors, 16% of sophomores, and 8% of eighth-graders saying they’ve vaped in the past year. (LATimes)

Two modern dating shows are coming to Facebook Watch. The first “unscripted dating show” from SoulPancake, Love & Longitude, is shot on iPhones and shows two potential love interests’ relationship blossoming across FaceTime, social media, and other digital interactions. The second dating show from Machinima, Co-Op Connection, plays into the esports craze. One bachelor gets to pick his partner based on their personality—and their skills at the videogame, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. (tubefiltertubefilter)

Some cities are past their “peak Millennial” populations, as the generation increasingly finds new digs in the suburbs. Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles all reached their highest Millennial population in 2015, and New York and Washington D.C. are showing slowing Millennial growth, according to U.S. Census data. Meanwhile Chicago’s suburbs and others have seen an uptick in their young adult populations—another Millennial myth debunked. Which urban centers are still attracting the demo as they age up? “Tech hubs” like Seattle and San Francisco. (Time)

“Crochet and knitting are very relaxing, therapeutic, and have tangible results."—Female, 31, AL

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