Tag Archives: youth culture

More from #TMRE14: Social Steganography – How Youth are Tricking Social Media Analytics

Danah Boyd
My biggest takeaway from the fascinating
keynote by social media and youth culture expert Danah Boyd, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and Founder of the Data &
Society Research Institute
, was that we need to be very careful about
analyzing social media, because apparently we misread a lot.
Boyd, an anthropologist and author of ‘It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,’ noted that social media use
by young people has gone from a consolidation phase (Facebook) to a state of
complete fragmentation as young people dabble in a variety of platforms to meet
their needs.
As such, it’s no longer simple to optimize
analytics for social media because these platforms differ by structure, format
and, importantly, the use or purpose for which young people have deemed each
best suited, respectively.
Much of the migratory behavior we’re seeing in
young people on social media these days is a response to a lack of privacy and
the consequent desire to exert more control over what is shared with whom.
Boyd said young people care deeply about
privacy, but not in the sense we ‘grown-ups’ might think. She said they want to
be in public, not to be public, and they’re migrating from
platform to platform in an effort to exert control over their social situations.

Young people are increasingly speaking in a sort of code or ‘social steganography’
Boyd cautioned the audience to not to take
what’s posted online too literally, as young people are increasingly speaking
in a sort of code or ‘social steganography’: much of what they post is a
message hiding in plain sight intended for and whose meaning may only be
deciphered by select insiders.
‘My job as an ethnographer to get in deep and make sense of things has
gotten harder. We’re missing things.’
‘My job as an ethnographer to get in deep and make sense of things
has gotten harder,’ Boyd said. ‘We’re missing things.’
They’re also gaming algorithms in ways that
might throw you off. For example, Boyd said young people often insert brand
names randomly in status updates because they know that it will bump them to
the top of their friends’ lists.
‘Youth know Facebook and other platforms use
algorithms for commercial purposes,’ Boyd said.
They do the same thing with Gmail, she added,
whiting out text and pasting it into emails they send friends to trigger ads that are clearly targeted for other people for laughs, for example.
Boyd closed with a note about how young people are organizing by
networks instead of traditional groups.  ‘They get networks; they
understand how to flow things,’ she said.
The move from groups’characterized by established boundaries’to
networks, which are porous, constitutes a radical cultural shift, Boyd
The shift has implications for business culture, in particular. 
Boyd noted young people are voracious learners, which in part explains why
those who’ve entered the work force now switch jobs every couple of years. And
true to networking, they retain the ties they’ve made at their old jobs while
forging new ones, which may seem innocuous but may really not be.
Boyd noted that in Silicon Valley, for example, the new generation
of hi-tech industry workers doesn’t see a problem exchanging, say, code with
peers over coffee.
‘They’re fundamentally networked,’ Boyd explained.  ‘They see
no issue in meeting with friends from their old company and sharing information
that might be considered intellectual property.’

The transient nature of the emerging labor cohort and the free
flow and exchange of knowledge and experience inherent in the networked ethos
will completely change the culture of business, she concluded.

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication
project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research
Business Report
, a confidential newsletter for the marketing
research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

Talking with 2.5 Million Teen/20-sums: DoSomething.org COO Has Tips

Old Crank Hijacks Blog to Carp About “Kids These Days”

By Marc Dresner
As I sat down to write this post I had two depressing thoughts
and I figured I might as well drag you down with me:

1. I am
officially ‘old.’ (And if you’re 26 years of age or over, sorry, but so are you.)

2. I am
out of touch. (And if you spend a lot of time talking about ‘youth culture,’ might
be you’re out of touch, too.)

That first fun fact came courtesy of
DoSomething.org under a section on its website dubbed ‘Old People’ that
unapologetically states: ‘If you’re 26+ we
consider you officially ‘old.’ This is an org for young people.’
Aria Finger
source: Crain’s New York

(Well I didn’t want to join your stupid org anyway! Pbbt’)

The second bit I deduced’but only after chasing some
teenagers off my lawn’from a comment made by DoSomething.org’s COO, Aria
Finger, who suggested that old people who talk about young people in sweeping
generalizations probably don’t understand them as well as they think.
‘You hear people generalizing a
lot. ‘Oh, young people like to share,’ and so on,’ said Finger. ‘We need to
remember that young people are diverse.’

people’ isn’t some homogenous panacea.’
”Young people’ isn’t some homogenous panacea,’ she added.

She’s right, of course. And we’re
all guilty of it.

Marketers and researchers, in
particular, love to label and wrap blanket statements around entire
generational cohorts.
It’s how we make sense of (and
market to) the world. Show me a statistician who doesn’t dehumanize people for
a living.
Now, no one is saying that
there isn’t any truth (or utility, for that matter) to statements like ‘Young
people like to share,’ etc.
But we probably make or accept them more often than
is advisable for the sake of expedience.

Teenagers are usually on the cutting edge of technology
We all know, for example, that Gen Z’ er, Post-Millennials?
Gen Next? ‘What are we calling these kids we’re generalizing about anyway?!?
Gen TBD?
Whatever they are, they’re ‘digital natives,’ right?
The teens are into all the cutting edge technology, right?
Wrong. Finger says that’s a big misconception.
Well, ok, but they sure seem tech-savvy. (Help me with my DVR, please!)
I mean, what about their smartphones? All the kids
have smartphones. We didn’t have smartphones when I went to high school…
And most middle-class teens in the U.S. today still
don’t, Finger noted, which is why SMS text remains such a powerful communication
And just where does she get her information, you ask?
Why from DoSomething.org’s 2.5 million members ages
25 and under, of course.

 ‘We can send a text to 1.6 million young
people and get up to 70,000 responses in minutes.’
‘We can send a text to 1.6 million young people and
get up to 70,000 responses in a matter of minutes,’ Finger told The Research Insighter.
any out-of-touch oldies, DoSomething is a pretty-big-deal-not-for-profit dedicated
to ‘making the world suck less’ by connecting teens and early 20-somethings to
social causes that matter to them.)
is also president of TMI, DoSomething’s agency subsidiary specializing in
research and consulting services around youth, technology and social change.
As a
result, Finger knows a thing or two about the kids and how to communicate with
And in this podcast with The Research Insighter
interview series, Finger shares some tips for talking with young people, including:

‘ Why ‘if you build it they will come’ isn’t a great
mobile strategy

‘ How to keep an authentic two-way text dialogue
going with thousands of young people

‘ Why brands shouldn’t necessarily just take the
kids’ word for it when it comes to preferences, and more’
Aria Finger will present ‘Using Mobile and Data Insights to Activate
Youth’ at The Future of Consumer Intelligence Conference taking place May 19th
through the 21st in Universal City, California.

SAVE 15% to attend The Future of Consumer Intelligence when you use code FOCI14BLOG today! 

more information or to register, please visit www.futureofconsumerintel.com

Old Crank

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.