private social network

February 24, 2015: We’ve heard it all before: “____ is dead” (referring to any internet fad that is apparently “over”). The movement of users — from Myspace to Facebook to Instagram to the next “big thing” — seems to be a reoccurring theme among tech writers and marketers. Generation Z, the generation “raised online” is the latest subject of these discussions.

This self-sufficient, virtual reality-based generation appears to be rejecting the social networks of their predecessors in favor of a more anonymous way of communicating. Instead of constantly sharing location, images, and 140-character thoughts, Generation Z seems to prefer more targeted sharing with whomever they choose, or crowd-sourcing information and thoughts without disclosing too much about their online identities.

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Your parents may have been right when they said “everything comes back in style.” While fashion has taken a turn for the ’90s, social media seems to be embracing the communication tools of the 90s as well. Remember AIM, Xanga, and BBS-style forums? They’re back (sort of). Here are some private social networks that the next generation of internet users have lately been embracing:

Snapchat has been making headlines recently thanks to its new Discover feature and addition of tools such as a QR code scanner. This network has become more than just a way to send goofy images to your friends and has exploded into a crowd-sourced resource for news and pop culture. Brands that have trouble appealing to the elusive Gen Z have embraced Snapchat as a tool for producing viral and highly engaging content.

Tumblr brings back the personal blog of the 90’s while adding a cleaner, aesthetically pleasing edge. Personalization draws many creatives to this network, and its user base is highly engaged and loyal. With the ability to share and build on content, this network can also be a very important tool for brands, celebrities, and TV Shows/movies.

YikYak, similar to SnapChat, relies heavily on geographic clusters of users to provide content. Gen X users love YikYak for its complete anonymity and brutal honesty. Should your brand be on it? Not yet. As this app grows, especially on college campuses, its main functions have fluttered between useful forums to possible cyber-bullying tools. The jury is still out on whether the hyper-localized geotargeting could in fact be useful for brands down the line.

WhatsApp/Kik/Line/GroupMe/Facebook Messenger
The rise of the messaging app has us nostalgic for the AIM chats of our high school days. As smartphones become the norm for young kids with texting budgets, having a free messaging service to contact friends (especially all at the same time), has become very important. While old people like me use Facebook Messenger for this (my last remaining reason to have a Facebook account), teens have been turning their backs on Facebook and now use more private apps for messaging.

Reddit has outgrown its reputation as “another 4Chan” and is becoming a resource for Gen Z for everything from beauty questions to chats with celebrities to a news source. Brutal honestly, humor, personality, and news that isn’t filtered through the media or a “stream” appeals to younger users in the same way that “open forums” did back in the 90s. While Reddit still seems like an intimidating place for some, its relative anonymity and huge wealth of crowd-sourced information and advice can guarantee its survival through several generations of users.

Didit Editorial
The '90s are back: the return of the private network
Article Name
The '90s are back: the return of the private network
The over-sharing, all-encompassing “social network” is on the decline. What's the next generation using to communicate?
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