July 20, 2013 in City

Social media’s omnipresence explained (via Hoopfest)

Story By Jody Lawrence-Turner
 
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Jenna Carroll, 28, right, reacts as Chelsie Hadden, 22, shows her her phone while Liz Hooker, left, checks her phone for updates during a meet-up for social networkers last week at Boots Bakery in Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

If you want to know social media, ask a teen. Better yet, ask a bunch of them.

A group of Spokane teenagers who took part in a social media engagement project at Hoopfest – the Digital Street Team – agree that Facebook is fading and Twitter is trending.

The team of 24 high school students was deputized to collect stories, photos and video at Hoopfest, and that material was posted to the event’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest accounts.

Some of those teens, along with one of their social media mentors at Hoopfest, recently assessed the fast-moving social media landscape:

Facebook: Passe, or for the “novice social media user,” said Jessica Trotter, 15.

Shelley Clark, 18, said the hordes of parents and grandparents on Facebook means teens “can’t say the stuff they want anymore. It’s not that teenager-only site anymore.”

It’s also too commercial, said Erica Jo Norris, a Hoopfest social media mentor. The advertising there is too overt for young people’s taste, she said.

Twitter: Perfect for evading the prying eyes of parents and for teenage-length attention spans, with its 140-character limit.

“Me and my friends are using Twitter because it’s almost more private,” Trotter said.

Norris said avoidance of parents is one of the main drivers of new social media sites. Parents seem unaware of Twitter, so a lot of kids are chatting there; “they kind of want to outsmart them,” she said.

More and more businesses and nonprofits are finding Twitter as a better way to network, share news and communicate.

“You don’t have to have a relationship to learn from each other,” said Jack Strong, owner of Strong Solutions, an Apple Mac Sales & Service business. Strong, however, showed up at a weekly “TweetUp” in a Spokane coffee shop: an event where Twitter users gather to meet in person.

Instagram: Trotter thinks Instagram, a photo-sharing site, is the future of social media because “you can capture a story with a picture better than with the words it would take to describe what’s happening.”

She offered an example: “My mom took a picture of the back of our T-shirt because it said Digital Street Team, and I posted that with a hashtag #hoopfest. That said it all.”

Keely Liles, 15, said Instagram’s photo filters allow “how you think to be reflected on your picture.” She also liked the ease of use in uploading photos and videos.

Pinterest: Jake Green, a Mead High School graduate and team member, prefers Twitter for sharing his photography, Facebook for keeping up with friends and relatives and Instagram for goofy photos, he said. Green tried using Pinterest, a site for collecting and organizing images, for a while, but found “it’s hard to develop a following. I found that people go on Pinterest and copy stuff. People don’t take it seriously.”

Trotter thinks Pinterest is oriented toward women because it’s fashion- and cooking-heavy.

MySpace: MySpace, one of the earlier social sites, is re-emerging with a central focus on music. Norris thinks the returning social network could be the next up-and-comer. Facebook doesn’t offer music.

Tumblr: Tumblr is where teens are having conversations and sharing ideas through blogs, Norris said. “It’s where they go to express themselves.”

Norris, 22, uses the site to brainstorm ideas.

“Kids are trying to escape from adults,” she said. “I think they are tired of adults telling them what to do, so they look for places to go where there are no adults.”

500PX:Green is starting to use this photo portfolio site for displaying his digital images, he said. The site, which describes itself as “the best photography website in the world,” gives people the opportunity to see a wide array of photography and also interact.

People can join the site for free with limited uploads or pay a fee for unlimited uploads, the opportunity to sell their photography and to find out who’s looking at their photos and for how long with Google Analytics.

“I use it often for professional work,” he said.

The site originated several years ago but has become more popular as computer speeds have made it easier to upload higher-quality digital images.

Vine: Clark thinks this site, which basically showcases videos, is the next big thing in social media.

“It’s already gone like a storm,” she said.

The mobile app, released in January, is owned by Twitter and allows people to record and share six-second videos.

People can embed those videos into Facebook or Twitter, “so they try to link them (the social networks) all together,” Clark said.

Reddit: If a video is going to go viral, it’s more likely to happen on Reddit or Buzzfeed than YouTube, said Norris, who landed a job on Ellen DeGeneres’ show last fall after her outside-the-box job-hunting video went viral.

The site offers posts of links, pictures or videos showing the number of views. People can select general tabs for browsing – such as hot, new, rising or controversial – or more specific categories such as gaming, politics or atheism.

“It’s more of a guy thing,” Norris said. “It’s just posting and sharing.”

Buzzfeed: This site is more popular among “kids in their 20s,” Norris said.

It has quizzes, funny posts and lots of lists, such as the top 15 ways to know if you’re a child of the ’90s, 10 highly questionable business names and 12 of the funniest fake ads.

The site is also about GIFs (short videos being replayed over and over). “GIFs are really popular in every social media aspect,” Norris said.

Snapchat: Mobile-to-mobile photo chatting.

Teens are instant messaging with pictures and captions instead of texting sometimes, Liles said.

The pictures last anywhere from one to 10 seconds and then disappear forever, and the service claims to be up to 10 times faster than texting photos.

“It’s a little more personal,” Liles said. “It’s quicker and easier than Instagram.”


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