Gen Y Mocks Twitter Users: The walled-gardens of social media

02 April 2009

This is pretty much truth – not all social media sites are created equal. Well, maybe a bit more accurate to state that not all social media sites were created or used with equality of purpose.

So, that in mind, watch this video from “SuperNews!”, an animated sketch comedy series airing on Current TV. it features some ‘young adults’ battling an addiction to Twitter….the social network Gen Y just doesn’t get.

As you can see by the video, as well as the comments below, Gen Y not into Twitter. As Gen Y love social media and played an important role as facilitators in the growth, it’s obviously not an adoption issue. Recently however many ‘adults’ have also come to crash this at one time exclusive party. In fact Facebook states that it’s fastest growing user base is 50+ women, and the highest percentages of people on Twitter are 30-40somethings. With the exception of the mother who Facebooks her kids to spy a little bit, there is not much cross-generational communication happening online. Why?

Well many tools are used differently by different groups. While some may use Twitter for random status updates (“I am eating dinner with my cat on the couch”, “I just ran into the bar, it said ouch”), most use it for information spreading, personal branding and a whole lot of networking. As the video clearly points out, Twitter is for people ‘who have no friends’, another way to state that it is not about hanging out but participating in open, public dialogue…with no one in particular. On the flip side, research supports the Connected Generation uses social networks more of an extension of what they do offline, that is socialise with their existing group of friends. So these places that ‘adults’ have invaded and are networking…Gen Y not interested.

So varying social networks, varying user groups with varying interests. It turns out that social media is actually just a huge set of walled-gardens. It is important for marketers to keep this in mind. Next time we casually throw out “leveraging social media”, we need to challenge and be challenged on understanding not only the functions of social media sites to distribute information, but the role it plays in users lives as well. Kids don’t want to be friends with brands on Facebook, and branded content on YouTube doesn’t just “go viral” because it is on there….not that I was born understanding this either, but after several years of working with Youth brands in the digital space, it is all becoming a bit clearer.

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3 Responses to “Gen Y Mocks Twitter Users: The walled-gardens of social media”

  1. Jessica Litwin

    I find it so interesting that this “Supernews” video is mocking Twitter and the fact that many young adults are not readily using the site. I am a public relations postgraduate student at Humber College and I never heard of Twitter until my Generation Xer teachers encouraged me (and my fellow peers) to use it. Even though these Generation Xers were encouraging me (and my primarily Generation Yer class) to use Twitter, they are not the only ones on the Twitter train.

    For instance, Ashton Kutcher’s competition with CNN to be the first user to reach one million followers on Twitter brought a lot of attention not only to Twitter and their competition, but helped bring Twitter to the attention of more Generation Yers and other generational groups due to the sheer amount of media coverage that this competition received. Twitter has also been incorporated into many popular television programs, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and even Entertainment Tonight. These programs have further brought Twitter to the attention of more Generation Yers as well other generational groups.

    While all social media sites will originally have a greater propensity of users in certain generational groups, once the site becomes widely popular, chances are that it will attract users of other generational groups.

  2. Kathleen Rose


    Before reading your post, I knew three things about Twitter:

    1) It was said to be critical in Obama’s campaign, allegedly helping him capture the youth vote.

    2) I’m supposed to be really into it, since it’s social media and I’m a Gen Y.

    3) Despite numbers 1 and 2, my Gen Y friends and classmates overwhelmingly find Twitter to be a waste of time.

    Reading your post, I’m starting to question the extent to which numbers 1 and 2 are true.

    In my own experience, Twitter’s greatest benefit is that it gives me access to successful Gen Xs and Boomers. Sure I post, but I’m really more interested in what other people have to say. I use Twitter for career reasons; my friends aren’t using it yet.

    In my PR class, Gen X and Boomer speakers come in to talk to us about how important Twitter is. We’re asked to integrate it into our communications tactics. We’re told it is the way of the future.

    Those things are probably all true. But from now on, I’m going to think a little harder about which audience I’m really trying to reach before I list twitter (or any other social media platform) as a communication tactic.

    And I think I’ll show my instructors that video.

  3. Christie Hill

    The concept of social networking perpetuated by sites like Facebook and Twitter is rapidly revolutionizing the way we communicate.

    “Supernews!” portrays an amusing spin on the Twittersphere that has recently encapsulated the lives of Gen X. A Generation that has feigned close enough to Facebook to understand the concepts, yet far enough away to avoid the adolescent hype, has become the conductors of the Twitter train.

    While Gen Y facilitated the take-off of the recent social media phenomenon, many are resisting the addiction, known as Twitter. A generation that relies on networking as a means to succeed in life, why are we so oppose to yet another tool to help leverage our own network and success?

    As humans, regardless of the generation, we do shout out in to the darkness, with hopes that someone hears us. Profoundly, with social media- someone always does.

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