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A teenager wrote about how teens use social media and it’s fascinating. It’s based off his experiences and observations of peers, so perhaps the sample size is limited, but it’s well written and insightful in connecting human psyche to products. It’s worth a read, and if you’d like the TL:DR here it is…

  • Nobody really shares on Facebook, but it’s weird to not be on it
  • Everyone is on Instagram — it’s a high quality experience
  • Few understand Twitter
  • Teens like Snapchat because they can be themselves, they don’t really care about privacy or security
  • Tumblr is about anonymity
  • Yik Yak is great for schools and maybe not elsewhere
  • Women use Pinterest

One thing I do wonder about is the premise of the article — the fascination the tech punditry have about teenagers, their behavior and what products they use. Knowing what teens like is good data of course, because they tend to be early adopters and can signal what everyone else will eventually use; moreover, they’ll grow older and eventually comprise the mass market.

However, their importance in the grand scheme of things is a little exaggerated. Teen obsession doesn’t always translate into to adult obsession. Off the top of my head: Pokémon, One Direction, Cancun and existential angst.

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Instagram is now used by more people than Twitter. Let’s talk about why. This post is a continuation from yesterday’s, which explored the evolution of how Twitter is used.

Twitter is great for getting news and opinions about the things you’re interested in. For example, Marc Andreesen is a fantastic person to follow if you’re interested in technology and business. Finding those people, however, is hard.

Instagram’s appeal is more immediate and more universal. It’s easier to create and find good content on Instagram, better for conversations and great to use with friends.

Getting “into” Twitter is difficult. I love my friends, but I don’t care about what they do on a real-time basis. I also love Duke basketball, but few Duke basketball players are actually interesting enough to listen to on Twitter. Finding great content on Twitter is hard.

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When people think about ranking social networks, it’s usually Facebook #1 and Twitter #2. Well, there’s a new #2 in town and that’s Instagram, who with 300 million monthly active users recently supplanted Twitter’s 284 million users.

Twitter was a compelling solution to a problem few understood. I’m not a big Twitter user by any means, but I’ve kept close tabs on it ever since its debut on SXSW, and my own understanding of Twitter has evolved a lot over the years.

Like most, I didn’t get Twitter the first time. It felt like a feature Facebook already had in status updates. Moreover, did I really want to know that people were doing on a real-time basis? Having lunch or going to the gym or feeling sad?

I soon realized it was a precise way of getting updates of only the people you’re interested in, which was/is different to Facebook’s algorithmic approach of getting updates from all your friends — who you may not actually be interested in following on a real-time basis. That was my first take on Twitter’s purpose.

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I was a guest on the Tech-Know show on Channel News Asia earlier today and asked to comment about privacy in social networks, and specifically, about an app called Peep. Peep is like a structured group chat, and kinda like Path.

The big point I made on the show is that while private social networks like Peep are a huge trend, it’s one that’s been happening for a while. For most of us, chat apps are our private social networks, and why Facebook acquired Whatsapp for $19 billion.

So for apps like Peep to add value, they have to demonstrate what they can do better above and beyond chat apps.

It’s a tough hurdle, and I’m not sure Peep clears it.

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There’s a fascinating article on Reuters on the state of Google Glass — in summary, that entrepreneurs, companies and investors are abandoning the platform because there is no market yet. I read it with mixed feelings.

In my entrepreneurship class at Stanford, my lecturer Andy Rachleff pointed out that being first to market is not a demonstrative advantage — rather, it’s first to product-market fit that’s critical. Google was not the first in search, but the first with the right search product. Once it built its lead, it was impossible for competitors to catch up.

So when Google opened up its Google Glass program, why did so many developers flock to it? I can’t recall a unicorn-level company ever winning because it was first to a technology platform. In mobile, Instagram and even Whatsapp had many predecessors. Uber was not invented at the start of mobile’s lifecycle; only later. I can’t think of a company that succeeded because it was simply there earlier than others.

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The results in summary according to Digital Trends:

Following up from the Spring 2014 ‘Taking Stock With Teens’ study created by Piper Jaffray, the Fall 2014 edition of the study was published this week with a particularly harsh outlook for social networking giant Facebook. When teens were asked what social network they typically use, only 45 percent responded with Facebook. That’s down from 72 percent responding Facebook just six months ago.

Alternatively, Instagram grew in popularity with 76 percent responding in the affirmative. In addition, sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit pulled in similar numbers as the last study. Only Google+ plummeted with Facebook, dropping from 21 percent in Spring 2014 to just 12 percent in the Fall study.

The story makes it seem like Facebook is on the way out but I have a different take. It’s not helpful to view any particular app from a “one to rule it all” perspective — though it may have started that way — because people have learned to use each service in a different way. Facebook doesn’t compete directly with Instagram even though both are on the surface social networks.

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There’s a social network called Ello that’s buzzing. I’m not sure why.

Ostensibly, it’s because it’s seeing rapid growth, though no one can cite actual numbers. The narrative is that some are unhappy of Facebook requiring real identities, and so are migrating en masse; mostly from the LGBT community according to the Washington Post. People are migrating to Ello because, unlike Facebook, the social network doesn’t require real names.

Hmmm.

You know what other social networks don’t require real names? Google Plus, Twitter and Instagram. Which are just a little more well known than Ello. The point is that if all people wanted is a social network which doesn’t require real names, there are plenty available.

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