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A Conversation With My Niece About Facebook

My 19-year-old niece babysat my children last Friday night. She’s a Kent State (that’s a college) student who lives in a sorority in a “quad” with 4 other girls in one room.

Every time I see her, I take the opportunity to talk to her about social media, and all things “new and hip”, etc… Heck, I have to, I’m a 36-year-old Internet geek. I see a lot of new tech online, but it’s obvious I’m not the core target for new stuff. I don’t “get” a lot of it.

Why do I have these conversations with her? Because I want get it straight from the horse’s mouth about what is new and hot and how she and her friends interact with things like Facebook and Twitter. Here’s a surmised recap of my conversation with her.

Me: So are you still using Facebook?
Niece: OMG, yes, about 5 times a day at least.

Me: You mean you log in 5 times a day?
Niece: At least. Me and all my roommates are on Facebook all day, and night. Constantly.

Me: Doing what?
Niece: I don’t know. Just updating, and socializing. Looking at pictures, leaving messages?

Me: Really? (Genuinely surprised)
Niece: Oh yeah. It’s our life beside classes.

Me: Ok, you login, and what exactly do you do? Because I login and I’m out of there in 2 minutes. I don’t know what to do.
Niece: We just send each other pictures and stuff, and chat and leave messages. It’s socializing.

This conversation finally made me realize why I don’t get Facebook. It’s because I don’t want to socialize, really. I just don’t.

She proceeded to tell me more about mp3 downloading and listening to music, and texting.

Here’s a thought on YouTube:

Me: So do you watch videos on YouTube?
Niece: Not really. I mean, we do watch the “hot” clips and stuff, but no one I know sits around and watches videos online instead of TV.

Wow, it’s amazing to see how that generation is truly utilizing today’s tools to interact with each other, not just daily, but by the minute.

When was the last time you talked to someone in your target market? It’s a sure-fire way of learning about how they use and think about your tools and company.

Heck, ask your Niece. It works for me.

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8 Awesome Comments So Far

Don't be a stranger, join the discussion by leaving your own comment
  1. Karen Swim
    December 17, 2007 at 5:35 pm #

    Jim,

    Well, I “thunked” my forehead in solidarity. Doh! Like you I never got the whole Facebook attraction. I would rather go out to dinner with friends than text and share online which I guess makes me…well certainly not that target demographic. I concur that the best source of information (and least expensive) is to ask your target market. This was insightful. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, we Midwesterners cannot be stopped by a little snow (even 8 inches) or we’d be stuck inside all winter!

    Karen

  2. loren nason
    December 17, 2007 at 7:14 pm #

    Don’t feel bad that you don’t get facebook.

    I get facebook but I still have no desire to update much there. In the Real Estate blog world Facebook is all the rage but all everyone seems to do is poke each other.

    I don’t update my status much at all

    and I haven’t logged-in in at least 2 weeks

    I would rather socialize in person then online, but then again at least if i socialize on facebook i don’t have to leave the house

  3. Jim Kukral
    December 17, 2007 at 10:08 pm #

    @Karen, I’m glad you liked it, thanks for commenting!

    @Loren, I don’t feel bad about it anymore after talking to my niece.

  4. Leather Sectionals
    December 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm #

    Its like you said in your earlier post, this is just not the way that people in their 30s want to socialize, but social networking thru these platforms is an absolute must when you’re a teen or even in your early twenties.

  5. side3
    December 18, 2007 at 4:42 am #

    I thought I was the only one who didn’t get the whole facebook thing. I signed up early on with it and I have like 1,000,000 things waiting for approval, Human Pets, walls, hot lists, I just don’t get it. Myspace was easy, add some pictures, some music, customize my css (well I don’t even do that anymore). My friends would add me and make stupid comments and send all sorts of holiday nonsense but it was simple. Facebook to me seems like a job that I don’t really want to do but yet you have to to keep in the loop.

    JIm, I added you on my facebook the other day and I’m glad you won’t give me jobs to do. My neice is too young for facebook or myspace but she is all about the Webkinz. I am thinking me building a profile on there would just be creepy.

    -s3

  6. Deb Ng
    December 18, 2007 at 11:15 am #

    I don't use Facebook at all. There are so many social networking tools and sites nowadays, I don't have time to get sucked into something else. Plus I like the idea of socializing in real time, not always people on my computer.

    I signed up but never did anything after that. I don't think I ever will.

  7. Bill Sledzik
    December 18, 2007 at 11:49 am #

    Hi, Jim. Found your post from a Google Alert, as I try to monitor discussions involving Kent State. I’m a faculty member at KSU, a student of social media and an avid blogger. At 54, I like to think I “get” Facebook, I just don’t use it as well or as frequently as my students. I’ve been on FB for nearly 3 years and find it a great way to stay in touch with my graduates once they leave the program, and I’ve developed another FB network of professionals as well.

    I don’t participate much in the discussions with active students, as most of them are likely to see my presence on FB as a bit “creepy.” That’s understandable. I do accept friend invitations from all students who offer them, but I never extend any to them. They are under no obligation to connect with their professor — nor should they be.

    I watched online socializing develop as my younger son, now 22, grew up with AIM then progressed to other social networks that now encompasses texting in any and all contexts. He’s also the one who turned me on to Facebook. The kid keeps in touch with friends and pretty much organizes his social life through digital messages. But face to face remains a big part of his social life — perhaps even more so than my own. Digital tools simply expand the interaction he can have while also expanding his circle of friends and acquaintances.

    As s3 says, constant connectedness can become like a “job” if you aren’t careful. But I don’t see the 20somethings complaining.

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