Email isn’t cool any more. It seems that it is the two way conversation and the multi-person community that teens — and especially teen girls — crave.
At least that is what a very interesting and revealing study entitled Teens and Social Media, released today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, concludes. Teens like to create social media content because it allows feedback and creates a community.
The report focuses on teenagers and shows that:
- 93% of teenagers are on-line, and their use of the Internet is intensifying.
- 64% of on-line teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of on-line content creation.
- Nearly half (47%) of on-line teens have posted photos where others can see them, and 89% of those teens who post photos say that people comment on the images at least "some of the time."
- Almost 30 percent write an on-line journal or blog, up from 19 percent in 2004.
- 26 percent, up from 19 percent, have remixed content – often known as mashups – using the content they find on-line.
Another major point revealed by the study is that teenage girls like to create content more than boys do. This shocked me. I have been in software for more than 20 years. During that time, software makers have wondered what would get teenagers and, specifically, teenage girls to spend time on their computers. Games worked for boys. But, what would the killer app be for teenagers and teenage girls?
It turns out that the answer is social networking sites. Girls love to create content, post it on the web, and then engage in a conversation about it. The report shows that:
- 35% of all teen girls blog, compared with 20% of on-line boys.
- 54% of wired girls post photos on-line compared with 40% of on-line boys.
- On-line teen boys are nearly twice as likely as on-line girls (19% vs. 10%) to have posted a video on-line.
"Social networking is this fabulous opportunity to share content," said Amanda Lenhart, co-author of report, in the San Francisco Chronicle. "You’re not just posting it in a vacuum. You’re also getting feedback from people."
"New technology increases the overall intensity and frequency of their communication with friends, with email being the one glaringly uncool exception in their eyes," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist with Pew and an author of the report in TechNewsWorld.
Email is "only for strangers or when you’re emailing companies and ordering things," Mike Gotta, principal analyst with Burton Group, told TechNewsWorld. "It’s not in their peer circle."
This has very interesting implications for business. Very few companies embraced email 15 years ago as a way to communicate. Now, it is mission critical. Will the use of social media by the next generation — and especially the growing number of women in the work force — fundamentally change what will be mission critical in the next decade?