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A study of how older teenagers use social media has found Facebook is “not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried” and is being replaced by simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat, an expert has claimed.

Young people now see the site as “uncool” and keep their profiles live purely to stay in touch with older relations, among whom it remains popular.

Professor Daniel Miller of University College London, an anthropologist who worked on the European Union-funded research, wrote in an article for the academic news website The Conversation: “Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.

“This year marked the start of what looks likely to be a sustained decline of what had been the most pervasive of all social networking sites.

“Young people are turning away in their droves and adopting other social networks instead, while the worst people of all, their parents, continue to use the service.

“Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected.

“In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.

“What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request.”

The Global Social Media Impact Study observed those aged 16 to 18 in eight countries for 15 months and found Facebook use was in sharp decline.

It found young people were turning to simpler services such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp, which professor Miller conceded were “no match” for Facebook in terms of functionality.

“Most of the schoolchildren in our survey recognised that in many ways, Facebook is technically better than Twitter or Instagram. It is more integrated, better for photo albums, organising parties and more effective for observing people’s relationships,” said professor Miller, adding that “slick isn’t always best” in attracting young users.

WhatsApp has overtaken Facebook as the number one way to send messages, said the researchers, while Snapchat has gained in popularity in recent months by allowing users to send images which “self-destruct” after a short period on the recipient’s phone in order to maintain privacy.

Snapchat claims 350 million images are sent every day, and reportedly recently turned down a $3.2 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. Evan Spiegel, the co-founder, who lives at home with his father despite an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, last month said “deleting should be the default”.

Researchers found close friends used Snapchat to communicate, while WhatsApp was used with acquaintances and Twitter broadcasted to anyone who chose to follow that person.

The study found Facebook, which will be a decade old next year, was now used by teenagers as a way to stay in touch with older members of their family and siblings who have left for university and has “evolved into a very different animal” from its early days as a social network focusing on young users at university.

Telegraph, London

Henry Sapiecha
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People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in Warsaw

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc is tying up with a Singapore-based startup to make its 140-character messaging service available to users in emerging markets who have entry-level mobile phones which cannot access the Internet.

U2opia Mobile, which has a similar tie-up with Facebook Inc, will launch its Twitter service in the first quarter of next year, Chief Executive and Co-founder Sumesh Menon told Reuters.

Users will need to dial a simple code to get a feed of the popular trending topics on Twitter, he said.

More than 11 million people use U2opia’s Fonetwish service, which helps access Facebook and Google Talk on mobile without a data connection.

Twitter, which boasts of about 230 million users, held a successful initial public offering last month that valued the company at around $25 billion.

U2opia uses a telecom protocol named USSD, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, which does not allow viewing of pictures, videos or other graphics.

“USSD as a vehicle for Twitter is almost hand in glove because Twitter has by design a character limit, it’s a very text-driven social network,” Menon said.

Eight out of 10 people in emerging markets are still not accessing data on their phone, he said.

U2opia, which is present in 30 countries in seven international languages, will localize the Twitter feed according to the location of the user.

“So somebody in Paraguay would definitely get content that would be very very localized to that market vis a vis somebody sitting in Mumbai or Bangalore,” he said.

The company, whose biggest markets are Africa and South America, partners with telecom carriers such as Telenor, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel Ltd. U2opia usually gets 30 to 40 percent of what users pay its telecom partners to access Fonetwish.

“For a lot of end users in the emerging markets, it’s going to be their first Twitter experience,” Menon said.


Henry Sapiecha

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Jake Munday’s internet business is based on a simple idea: people love dogs.

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But that idea has garnered his Facebook page, Dog Lovers, more than three million followers, which Munday says is earning him about $40,000 a month.

These are impressive figures by any measure but even more so, considering that Munday is 24 years old and Dog Lovers is only a part-time exercise for him. His full-time job is selling phone plans in a Telstra business dealership.

Having decided he wanted to start a business based on people’s love of dogs, Munday thought he’d start a Facebook page and decided that rather than start from scratch he’d acquire one. So he acquired the Dog Lovers page when it had an already impressive 430,000 fans.

“We saw an opportunity there to set up a little business and sell dog collars and dog products to the audience,” says Munday, who lives in Geelong in Victoria. But he quickly discovered the business model was not workable. A lot of the Facebook page’s fans were overseas and it was impossible to make a profit by selling a dog collar that cost $8 wholesale for $12 and paying foreign postage.

In the meantime, he set about securing more fans for the Facebook page and, the way that Munday tells it, getting the next 2.5 million “likes” in the 12 months since was pretty simple.

Indeed, his strategy for attracting viewers is much like his original business idea. “Animals are very emotional to people; they’re like family, they’re like their kids,” he says. “We can make it sound like a special formula but at the end of the day some [posts] work and some don’t.”

They posted a picture of a cute little girl holding up a handwritten sign saying, “my daddy said I can get a puppy only if I can get 1 million likes”. The post went viral and within 72 hours had picked up 1.3 million clicks.

The picture had already been posted on Facebook. Munday simply picked it up and put it on his own page. He has no idea who the girl is or whether she ultimately got her puppy.

The site continues to pick up more traffic with its mix of cute and funny dog pictures and videos. Munday has employed a friend part time to produce content for the site but most of it is posted by fans, free of charge.

With the original idea of selling dog products not working out, Munday looked for other sources of revenue. He turned the Facebook page into an advertising vehicle.

The page earns its revenue through advertising – pet businesses pay to place ads on the site – and through affiliate marketing – where companies pay Munday when people click on their site from the Facebook page.

For instance, he promotes products for the pet-related group buying site coupaw.com and, when people click on the ads, they’re taken to the site where they have to fill out their email details and Munday earns $1 per email address. Others pay a commission on the sales Dog Lovers generates.

Promoted products include doggles (goggles for dogs), booties to keep puppies’ paws warm and dry, and dog-themed jewellery for owners.

The site initially earned $4000 a month in revenue, and has grown each month, to about $40,000 now, Munday says.

For several months, Munday ran his own non-Facebook website, with his videos and pictures, which earned revenue from the Google advertising service AdSense, where the search giant places ads on sites.

That site proved popular and profitable, bringing in revenue of several thousand dollars a week. But he was blocked by Google for not complying with its guidelines about how and where ads could be placed, such as places that created accidental clicks.

Munday plans to relaunch the site on a more professional basis. His next task is to work out how to derive revenue from his database of three million followers and the Dog Lovers brand.

“It is hard when you have a worldwide audience. It’s hard to create my own products,” he says. He could continue to sell ads on the new site but might also license the brand.

Munday expects the site to keep attracting likes but wants to sell out in the longer term.

“Ideally someone comes in and pays me out for the right price,” says Munday. “This is fantastic but it can’t last forever. The reality is that it’s always changing.”

Henry Sapiecha
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