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Special Report: The Next Generation of Social Media

Updated: 05/01/2014 10:48 PM
Created: 05/01/2014 5:29 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

There's only one place on the internet, where more than a billion strangers can stay connected.

"Facebook is an outrageously cool tool," Marty Weintraub said.

Weintrabu is the founder of Aimclear in Duluth. It's a multi-platform marketing company.

"Facebook is still growing in terms of size and in terms of its lucrative nature," Weintraub said.

While more than 800 million people log on to Facebook every day, a portion of younger teens said the friend-centered site is too friendly.

"It's creepy," high school student Elizabeth Wiley said. "So many people add you; it's out of control."

Others said the social networking site is no longer in style.

"It's just not cool anymore," high school student Isyss Hurtrg said. "Everything on it is pointless."

"It's just full of stuff I don't like to look at it," UMD student Joshua Weidenbach said.

A few bad reviews for the social media giant. While some teens and young adults may feel this way, social media experts said Facebook is still king of the social media world.

"Facebook is more vital than ever before," Weintraub said. "The migration from younger people has been replaced by a influx of older people in America."

Since Facebook launched a decade ago, there have been new additions to the social media landscape. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are gaining popularity making the cyber space competition fierce especially for teen users.

Instagram is an app where you can upload photos and videos then add a filter. It gives the photos an art-like feel. Unlike Facebook, you won't find links, articles or status updates.

"If I go somewhere that looks nice, I take a picture of it and put it in Instagram," UMD student Leith Ouanes said.

Snapchat is an app where you can send photos or videos to specific users. The difference is when you open it there is a time limit before the photo disappears automatically. The attraction? What happens on Snapchat, stays on Snapchat.

"I do some embarrassing things," UMD student Hnede Joshua said. "I'll do some ugly faces and it's gone. I don't have to remember it."

On Twitter, users can share their thoughts in 140 characters or less. It's a condensed, online diary the world can see. Unlike Instagram, it's mostly words.

"It gives you insight as to who a person really is because they share their thoughts and their actions and everything," UMD student Seth Tufte said.

While you won't find a billion people on these other sites, Instagram and Twitter said they both have more than 200 million users a month. Their fans are almost as faithful as Facebook users.

Pew Research said 63 percent of Facebook users get online at least once a day. Instagram users are almost as devoted with 57 percent logging on daily. In the Twitterverse, almost half make it their daily routine.

So, what do all these social media spin-offs have in common? The answer is simple.

"Kids want to do simple more focused things because they're kids," Weintraub said.

Weintraub said some teens are attracted to other apps because they're more basic.

"Study the curve to when peoples' brains mature and when they start to like Facebook versus Snapchat," Weintraub said.

Another draw? They can avoid the family reunion.

"I think younger people literally leave Facebook because they don't want their parents stalking them," Weintraub said.

Weintraub hit it right on the head for one teen.

"They stalk me on there," Hurtrg said. "So, I deactivated it."

While the younger generation may stray from Facebook, Weintraub said they'll be back.

"I highly doubt that communities of people are going to be tightly keeping track of those they meet throughout the journey for their whole life on Snapchat," Weintraub said.

Let's face it. More than a billion people can't be wrong.

"I like the fact that I can communicate with my family members in Liberia because I was born there," Joshua said.

It's that community at Facebook's core that keeps it growing. Regardless of how cool a new app may be, Facebook is full of real life and that can be a love-hate relationship.

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