Tuesday Trends is a weekly post that covers, in brief, emerging movements, innovations, or strategies that you can integrate, tweak, or ponder as you organize your program.

As Facebook wrestles with it’s IPO dilema, an emerging reality is beginning to take shape that even further undermines it’s domination of the world’s social media landscape. Teens and tweens are finding less satisfaction and connectivity with Facebook and instead are choosing to interact with each other through services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and video chat provider OooVoo. Although this should be nothing new to you as a youth leader, it is however, further evidence that your social media strategy should cultivate balanced offerings.

Here are some findings from the LA Times.

“Since she signed up three years ago, friend requests and status updates are as much a part of Meera Kumar’s life as homework and exams at Menlo School, the elite private school in leafy Atherton, Calif., where she’s a 16-year-old sophomore.But when her kid sister Anika turned 13 last year, she gave Facebook a pass. ‘I guess I haven’t been that interested in it,” said Anika, who prefers sharing photos with friends on Instagram via her iPhone or video chatting with them onGoogle+.’


‘Facebook is just not the big fad anymore,” said Kim Franklin, a 15-year-old from Gaithersburg, Md., who does not have a Facebook account and prefers social media site Tumblr. “It was like everybody was constantly on there, but now not so much.’


Teens embracing new services say they’d rather use aliases than their real names. They’re just not that into the idea of having everyone see all of their random thoughts. And they also worry that one wrong move on Facebook could hurt their chances of getting into college or landing a job.


On Twitter or Tumblr, they say, they can also be more selective about what they share and with whom, and feel less social pressure to “friend” everyone in their school or friends of friends.


Twitter, they say, just feels more private and intimate. They can use pseudonyms or private locked accounts so their tweets stay between friends. Twitter also enables teens to have fun as a group, jumping on trending topics such as the #IgoToASchoolWhere hashtag.”


What does this mean for youth work?

Teens and tweens who have or will have a Facebook profile are likely to selectively share their content from Instagram & Twitter using Facebook as a brag board. They enjoy updating their profile to keep content fresh but choose to do so through apps where they can diversify content. The conversation over that content with friends will happen on those services. This also gives them control over what their family can see of them online.

They will also utilize other sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and OooVoo to go dark with friends where interaction can be privatized away from mom and dad’s eyes.

Consider Brand Representation

Setup a Tumblr account and aggregate your group’s content to Tumblr. Remember that with Tumblr, your content is more likely to create reaction if the use of imagery is deployed and conversation follows artistic expression more than traditional announcements. Share whimsical content, images, and videos that underscore Tumblr’s focus on media. Be aware that if you are on Tumblr and you follow students or they follow you that you’re going to see and experience raw content. Students are giving you relational relational privilege in their world so you will have to absorb their heightened forms of expression.

Most of you have a twitter profile for your group and that is well and good but at the end of the day students will want to interact with you as a person before they will want to interact with a brand. Learn their hashtags and don’t feel intimidated by content that is hyped or sensational. As students let you into that world consider the reality that this is their new form of expression and you will ride their online emotions and impulses.

Instagram is a bit tricky. Accounts are setup through smartphone apps so logging into your own account and logging out into a brand account will be complicated. If you’ve already signed up for an account on Instagram on your phone, you can still sign up for a second account — just be sure to use a different email address. Here is some more information on the practice from Instagram. Instagram also deploys the use of hashtags. Consider advocating hastags that will canvas twitter and instagram.

Video chat with sites like OooVoo are even more tricky. Having an adult in a video chatroom with students or inviting yourself will be invasive to students and they are likely to curb their true conversational self. Consider setting up a chat for a specific conversation and scheduling that conversation as an overflow discussion. Limit your time and stick to the subject assignment so you don’t find yourself in an online¬†quandary. You can gain entrance into that community by inviting kids to participate in a strategi conversation where you are planning or serving up a discipleship moment. Shooting the breeze with kids online with video chat may startle parents or place you in an awkward position. If you setup a brand as a hangout on Google+ it will clearly communicate identity but it may at the same time compromise conversational sincerity.

I will continue to try and keep us aware of emerging tools, space,and places where we can earn the right to be heard.



  1. dave August 21, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    We use a private social network called Agora(www.agora5.com) where our students, leaders and small groups can connect, communicate, interact, develop community and do discipleship in a private space. It has become an important part of our communication and digital strategy.

  2. chadswanzy August 21, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Love the site and agora is awesome.

  3. Wilson August 21, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    All our teens were on twitter until all their parents got on it. Now they’re all on instagram, but all their parents are signing up for that so I don’t know how long that will last. They all say they don’t use facebook as much but it’s hard to argue with the stats from our youth group page. They may not use as much as they used to. But they still use it more than anything else.

  4. chadswanzy August 21, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    For sure. Facebook is still valid because it’s too large to ignore. As kids see their parents continue to give chase they will signup with pseudo usernames, private accounts, and smaller circles to connect and privatize their conversation.

  5. Pete Eicher August 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    My biggest challenge is to stay “up” on all these trends and utilize them effectively, while making sure that I don’t spend so much time figuring them out, that I miss other priorities.

  6. jerry white August 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Love this post. We have accounts for our recurring characters too and the kids love it. This helps the brand stay in the conversation without it actually feeling like a commercial. Plus it keeps the creatives looking for a different perspective other than food, pretty sunsets & logos.

  7. chadswanzy August 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    At the end of the day the best work is face to face.

  8. chadswanzy August 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    I love that. Character video shorts and tweets are funny.

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