The originators of social media as we know it today—Facebook and Twitter—are dealing with a lack of interest from once-dedicated users: young smartphone-attached digital natives who grew up on mobile and social.
Facebook is busy revamping the social site’s News Feed while Twitter is turning its focus towards the bevy of brands and advertisers that are trying to capitalize on the site’s RTM capabilities. The trial and error of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has in turn birthed the next generation of social media as younger digerati take to their devices and craft social platforms that are better-suited to their likes and habits.
Pheed, the social media platform that lets users share text, photos, videos and audio describes itself as “the evolution of social sharing,” combining elements of those platforms preceding it and adding capabilities of SoundCloud, Tumblr and Ustream, with no limits on content size, videos that can run as long as 4 hours and 20 minutes and photos in any resolution and shape. Notably, a copyright button lets users put a watermark on their content that is legally binding.
The website and mobile app are particularly popular with teenagers, who made it the App Store’s number one social networking app in February, with a “user base [that] is 81percent between age 14 and 25.”[more]
Teen celebs including Acacia Brinley, Pia Mia, Garrett Backstorm and Colin Ford have took to Twitter over the app, seeding attention about Pheed. After Brinley tweeted “@Pheed sickest app,” thousands of teens opened Pheed channels in minutes.
“I feel like the only metaphor that describes accurately how I feel is the little engine that could, as it’s against all odds,” said Pheed’s CEO and Co-Founder OD Kobo. “We’re this self funded startup with no VC funding… while our competitors raise tens of millions, we’re just this small team of people, and Pheed is being accepted by the community.”
A second competitor for teen engagement and a challenger to 1.0 social platforms is SnapChat, an app that lets users send photos to other subscribers—with a one to 10 second expiration limit, giving birth to the world’s first time-limited photo sharing application.
Started by Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, Snapchat enables not only photo-taking but editing, adding a caption or other “doodles,” and then selecting recipients who look at the photo—quickly—before it “self-destructs.” Friends reply with their own photo or send a message back.
Sounds benign, but the app has caused reverb amongst parents. “SnapChat could also be a temptation for teens to use it for “sexting” because the risks of having the photo eventually making the rounds of the Internet are lower,” notes about.com, adding, “While the photo message disappears from the phone after a few seconds, it does not prevent the receiver from snapping a screenshot of the photo while it is live. To Snapchat’s credit, if a receiver takes a screenshot of the photo, the sender is notified, but that may not be enough to prevent the photo from being shared later with others.”
“Teenagers are more likely using the app to safely explore the sort of silly, unguarded, and sometimes unwise ideas that have always occupied the teenage brain … in a manner that won’t haunt them forever,” wrote Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. “In other words, they’re chatting with Snapchat precisely because it’s not like chatting with Facebook.” Facebook responded with look-alike Facebook Poke, made infamous by a family photo posted by Randi Zuckerberg.
Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel said he thinks the sex talk associated with his app is overblown. “I’m not convinced that the whole sexting thing is as big as the media makes it out to be,” he told Techcrunch. “I just don’t know people who do that.”
If Pheed and SnapChat are indicators, the face of future social media will include a mash-up of content ownership and monetization, freedom from embarrassment, freedom to embarrass, one-to-one personalized communication, and at the end of the day, a feeling that the individual has some control over the Internet and mobile devices—even if it’s just for 10 seconds.