For decades now having the attention of young people, especially on the web and social is one of the most important goals for companies of all sizes, they are big consumers who create the trends, I don’t like it but unfortunately it is so. Google, by analyzing so much data it has, has been able to understand that it is losing the new generation of 15-20 year olds who no longer search using Google search, Google Maps or YouTube but platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
These are remarks coming directly from Google’s senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan, who warned his company but also other competitors such as Meta. The latter has a “big” problem with Facebook now considered the social network of boomers whose average age is between 40 and 50. Even Instagram is having the first signs of breaking down on the age side because it has been considered the social network of the young for a decade but precisely because of this so many of its users are now 30 and older.
In short, what has happened with music is playing out on social as well, each generation remains attached to what they grew up with, so if you listened to rock ‘n roll in the 1960s, you continue to listen to it now that you are 80 years old, same thing for social media, if you started using Facebook in 2004 and you were 20 years old, now you are about 40 and you continue to feel comfortable in an environment that you know, and then you find all your high school and college friends there!
The teen social network now is TikTok, where only videos up to 60 seconds are allowed, no photos, no long texts, all fast, all done to get attention, show off. Perfect, for better or worse, for the 20’s. TikTok’s algorithm also differs from other socials in that any video, even from an account without much of a following, can go viral, so it is the individual video and not the account as a whole that makes the difference. This way anyone can hope to become famous overnight, so you also lose the concept of hard work that pays off over distance, just be patient. Nothing, patience is also the stuff of old men.
If you’re 30 and older, accessing TikTok means stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s a decidedly alienating experience, you feel like a guest at a high school (or middle school) party surrounded by wild 15-year-olds while you if there with white hair and a bad back thinking about how you’re going to pay the bills at the end of the month. Basically you are and will remain an outsider even in the unfortunate event that you decide to play “young” and convince yourself that after all you just need to be open-minded enough to fit in. Know that playing the fake young person is really a wrong and also a bit sad way to adapt.
The only thing is to always be yourself, and that applies to everything, not just TikTok. For example on TikTok there is a 46-year-old who has over 14 million (fourteen million!) followers, I’m talking about Gary Vee, the super active American entrepreneur who is present on essentially every social, he believed in TikTok from the beginning and has always acted “him” even though his extroverted nature made him suitable for video as a format, which however is obviously not for everyone, if you are introverted, you are screwed. The fact that he uses direct, swear-filled street language and is very approachable still convinced millions of teenagers to follow him, without them thinking about his age but more for the value of the messages they can get from him.
So is the “value” of the content still important? it depends on what we mean by value, Gary Vee undoubtedly says things that can impact a teenager’s life while there is a large amount of videos whose only value is in the laughter they manage to wring out of you or the song they make you discover. I don’t want to be the “it was better in our time,” I’m convinced that it’s always better now (all statistics, in any field other than the health of our poor planet, confirm this), we’ll just have to be aware that our children are using the same tools we are (and this is a first in recent history) but in a very different way, not necessarily worse or better. So you can maybe Google “TikTok” so you can continue with your boomer habit and then get out of your comfort zone by discovering a world where things work differently than we do. Then you can return to Facebook finally feeling at home among the various posts with music from when you were young, photos from the 90s and distant acquaintances you discovered from a friend of a friend who have passed on and comment with the crying emoji. 😢