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Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to provide some insight on their social media usage. Up this week: Sydnee Fryer, an SI Kids Reporter who recently covered the Indy 500 and the daughter of Associated Press writer Jenna Fryer. I asked Sydnee to help explain how young teens view social media.
Just for background, can you tell people how old you are and where you are in school right now?
I’m 13 and I’m in seventh grade right now.
Obviously, social media is a big part of any seventh grader’s life and I know you’re active in it and are on several platforms. First of all, can you rank the platforms that you use in order from the ones you enjoy the most to the least?
So I only use three: I’m on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. It’s probably a tie between using Snapchat and Instagram most because I communicate through Snapchat, but I look at Instagram the most. And then I’m on Twitter a lot; I tweet a lot, so I’m probably most active on Twitter, but I don’t use it as much for other things.
So Facebook is completely out. You guys don’t Facebook at all. Do any of your friends use it?
I know one of my friends uses it to stalk family members, but that’s it.
Why don’t you use Facebook?
I just never did it. I just never built a profile. Like I know my mom is on it, but I never got around to it because I know all my friends were getting on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter before I was, and just no one was on Facebook, so I never got on Facebook.
Let’s start with Snapchat since you said that’s the one you enjoy the most. You said you communicate with your friends through that. Do you snap people in place of texting altogether?
Yes. Most of the time when it’s just my friends and I having a private conversation, it’s that. We have group chats on text because not everyone has Snapchat, but the majority of the time it’s over Snapchat.
What percent of your friends do you think use Snapchat?
Eighty to 85. Because we’re only 13, some of us can’t have it or don’t have phones — but everyone who has a phone has it.
That’s interesting. And so Instagram, do you use it just for your own posts or do you send messages through that as well?
Yeah, we send direct messages. My friends and I have a group chat and we’ll send each other things that we think are funny or (about) people from our school doing something, and then I obviously post myself and look at other people’s posts.
What percent of your friends do you think use Instagram?
Less than Snapchat. Probably about 60 or 70.
And then as far as Twitter, what do you use that for? Are you basically looking at stuff, are you posting updates for your friends?
So none of my friends are really on Twitter; I have one friend that uses Twitter. None of my friends are into sports like I am, so that’s what I use to talk about sports. So most of my Twitter is just me talking about sports, what I think about this basketball game going on — because none of my friends look at it, so none of my friends know what I’m talking about.
So you’re saying maybe less than 10 percent of your friends have Twitter?
Yeah. Like no one uses Twitter. I love Twitter and I know that a lot of young people do, but none of the people I know really do it.
So how do your friends get information if they’re only basically on Snapchat and Instagram?
Either I’ll tell them (or) they’ll get it late, so they don’t see it as soon as I do. But now Snapchat and Instagram are kind of upping their game, I would say. Snapchat now has their news stories and everything, and then Instagram has their constant postings. And if you follow news sites, you can get it pretty easily. It’s just not as rapid as Twitter and there’s not as many people talking about it.
So those stories that pop up on Snapchat like the daily Stories from the different outlets, people use those as news sources. That’s how they’re getting their information.
Yes, absolutely. There’s certain political sites that my friends look at to find out what’s going on or I’ll tell them or I’ll say something about it. One way or another, they’ll see it through the internet or something like that.
So let’s say people are growing up this way and not even consuming Twitter or Facebook, which is where most journalists are posting their stories. When I post my stories, I put tweet them and put them on Facebook and that’s it. So what’s the best way to reach people in your age group for people like myself or even companies and marketers?
That’s hard, because I don’t know a lot of my friends … read news articles and stuff like that. There’s things like “I put my link in my bio,” because you can’t put links in through Instagram, so put links in your bio. They can promote it like that, take a couple of days to post things about it to promote it.
A lot of times, it’s just the first thing that comes up when people look up what they want to. Like if you type in a couple of key words in Google, the first article they see is the one they’re going to click, so that’s part of it.
But really through social media — my friends don’t really read articles. I obviously read articles because I’m on Twitter and I follow a lot of journalists, but I don’t know if my friends do.
How much live video do you guys consume? We hear a lot about Periscope, Facebook Live, even Instagram Live Stories, and then obviously people are super into YouTube. How much video do you feel you and your friends watch?
YouTube — a lot. A lot of YouTube vloggers and stuff like that. Instagram Live is big — we watch a lot of comedians we like or athletes we like on that.
I watch a lot of Periscope because there are a lot of sports journalists that have shows on Periscope that air at a certain time and I watch those.
I don’t know so much about Facebook Live or anything about that because no one is on Facebook, but definitely a lot of YouTube and a lot of Instagram Live.
In general, there’s a war going on somewhat between Instagram and their Stories and Snapchat Stories. What do you and your friends prefer in general?
Snapchat Stories, because it’s what everybody has been doing. I’ve noticed that the people who use Instagram Stories the most are adults who don’t have Snapchat because it never reached them. So if we’re gonna post something on our story, we’re gonna post it on Snapchat because it’s easier.
Even though I’m private on Instagram and nobody can see my story unless I let them follow me, I get to pick and choose who I can select to not show my story to (on Snapchat). So it comes easier like that and it’s like muscle memory; you just click Snapchat and take the first video you see.
That’s interesting, because I think people are trying to get on the Instagram Stories bandwagon — but that might not be a very good move if they’re trying to reach younger people, because younger people are sticking with Snapchat. They’re loyal to Snapchat and it seems like they’re probably not going anywhere.
No, I’m definitely not (going anywhere). I love Snapchat. I love the Stories, I love the geo-filters and stuff you can add to Stories.
Instagram Stories are OK. I’ll watch a few, but I follow over 500 people. Obviously, 500 people aren’t posting on their Instagram Stories, but it’s over 100 or 200 people, so I don’t watch all of them because I only see the top in my bar (above the feed). I think it’s the five most-searched profiles you look at, so I’ll see athletes’ stories that I watch, but I don’t really see anyone else’s.
One thing that would kind of weird me out about not being on Twitter or Facebook is both are somewhat of a history of what I’ve said or what’s gone on in my life. Snapchat is temporary. I guess your Instagram posts remain in some ways, but they’re not really lifetime achievements or “This is what happened to me on this day.” Are you and your friends not really concerned in general about keeping a log of your life? You don’t mind that it’s erased?
Well Snapchat has their new Memories thing, which I save everything to pretty much — like every picture I take on Snapchat and every video — which is a good log.
And then there’s Timehop, which sends you things from Instagram and sends you things from your camera roll and my Twitter. My friends who are not on Twitter, I don’t think they’re concerned with that because they don’t really post.
I post a lot, but I don’t think a lot of my friends do. They have 20 to 30 posts on Instagram, which isn’t really that much, so I don’t think they’re really concerned on showing everyone what they’re doing.
Do they go back and delete less popular posts on Instagram if they’re like, “This didn’t get a ton of likes, so I’m just going to delete this like it never really happened?”
Absolutely. I do that too. Like if I see a post I don’t like anymore or like a selfie I posted that I don’t really like anymore or I don’t think I look good in it anymore, I’ll just delete it really fast. A couple of my friends only have like 11 posts — the bare minimum, so people know that they’re active on Instagram — delete stuff all the time. They just have a schedule, and they delete their very first post and then post something new just to make a cycle of it and show that they’re active.
Why do you think there’s a disconnect between what adults use and what younger people use? My friends are very Twitter heavy, there’s also a lot of Facebook and Instagram, and then Snapchat for people my age (36) comes in fourth. I love Snapchat, but I don’t get the sense that a ton of people are on it. It’s such a younger people thing. You would think if that is the most popular forum, more and more people would go to it — but there’s such a divide. Do you have a theory on why that is?
It’s in order of when they came out, I think. Facebook and Twitter came around at the same time in the 2002 to 2004 area, and then Instagram and Snapchat didn’t come out until 2012 to 2014 when were starting to get phones, starting to get into social media.
And there’s social media trends I’ve noticed, too. I think adults tend to post a lot — like my mom even posts a lot, and we don’t do that, like I talked about a little bit ago.
Then a new trend that’s going around is that teenagers will have second profiles that are completely private — not under their name, doesn’t say anything about them in the bio — and they’ll post spam and do whatever they want on it and they’ll block their parents and stuff so nobody can really see what they’re doing. It’s called a “finsta,” a “fake Instagram” or a “spam.”
So with your finsta, are you just doing it to just to post whatever you want and only a couple of people know? How does that work?
I don’t do anything bad on my finsta, like I don’t have anything bad to post. Really it’s just screenshots of my Twitter or my fantasy football thing and like me complaining about fantasy football. It’s just so my friends can see it and it’s just so that I have a bigger way of reaching kids at my school and posting things. We’ll do photo challenges, like a May photo challenge where on Day 24, you post the highlight of your day just so your friends can see the highlight of your day without everyone becoming annoyed with you.
So how do you spread the word about your second profile to your friends? Are you just like, “Hey, follow me on here, this is my second thing?”
You just find it. My friends have one, so I’ll go through people that they follow, I’ll follow them. People will follow back. And if you can’t find me, then you can’t find me.
Any final thoughts on where the direction of social media is going in the future? It sounds like from what I’m gathering in this conversation that teens are getting more withdrawn, more private. They’re using social media, but they don’t want to broadcast everything out. It’s not a huge public thing where it’s going to be exposed to everybody; they want to use it just for their core group. Is that basically correct?
Yes, most of the time, unless people have their profiles public and they’ll let people from their school see it. But if I don’t really know you, then I don’t feel the need for you to see the stuff I post — because I post with my location on, you see where I am, you see what I’m doing, the people I hang out with, my mom. So if I don’t know you directly or if I haven’t really interacted with you, then I’ll probably (not share).
On Twitter, it’s a different story because it’s not my face, it’s just my opinions and what’s going on. But on Instagram and Snapchat, it’s a completely different story because it’s what I’m doing and I don’t think that it’s necessary to be publicly broadcasting that.
Is it that you don’t want to be judged?
Sure. Yeah, I don’t want to be judged. But it’s a safety thing. Like things stay on the internet forever whether you delete them or not — so you gotta be careful with stuff like that.