TECH TALK: BILL MAGEE says the new owner of Twitter has his hands full retaining the loyalty of the internet generation
Gen Z, the young adult generation, have already shunned Facebook, preferring the more interactive social media sites Instagram and TikTok. As Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk keeps the market guessing over the full extent of his plans, it could be next to get the social cold shoulder.
Digital Natives, as they’re otherwise known – the oldest in their mid-20s – are showing it is within their power to change the social media landscape. One Gen Z told me: “Musk’s £38 billions-worth Twitter takeover move is taking my generation for granted.”
Supermodel Gigi Hadid, while at 27 being just a little older than the Gen Z demographic, nevertheless shares the wider frustration among the young. She has informed her 76.2m Instagram followers that she ‘deactivated’ her Twitter account due to ‘its new leadership’ and its becoming “a cesspool of hate & bigotry.”
Her views among the critical twenty-somethings are not uncommon. The Gen Z demographic accounts for about a third of all tweets, more than any other generational segment, according to adweek.com, which means they’re also a critical audience for brands. Often described as savvy, smart and social-first young adults they are the first generation to grow up with the internet and portable digital technology.
They left Facebook in their droves when it went through changes eventually becoming Meta, but still Facebook, reports hootsuite.com. The market detests confusion.
However, Meta wisely hedged its bets and also owns the still highly-popular Instagram, ensuring it doesn’t lose such a valuable section of the social population.
Isabel Macleod, head of research and insights at Glasgow’s social media firm Hydrogen, acquired by PA Media last week, says sites such as TikTok offer “short, snackable, content that works well, especially given the busyness of our everyday lives”.
Could Musk go down a similar path and hive off part of Twitter to ensure it doesn’t lose valuable tweeters?
Tech conglomerates are desperately searching for new business solutions to boost declining profits. In his attempt to turn around loss-making Twitter, Musk has laid off hundreds of employees and is raising revenue from blue tick subscribers.
While many have objected and have threatened to quit the platform, Musk is pleading his case for rebuilding the balance sheet while protecting freedom of speech, which includes controversially considering a reversal of the lifetime ban on former US president Donald Trump.
Musk is taking a huge gamble, The opening up of Twitter and concerns over the sacking of staff who may be responsible for moderating content has upset some advertisers. L’Oreal was the first big name to suspend its advertising spending, following uncertainty over the direction Twitter is heading. Pfizer and Volkswagen have also expressed concern.
The platform-hopping Gen Z group, who help determine the shape of social media and are wavering over Twitter, haven’t helped themselves – posting embarrassing and even incriminating photos, sharing confidential data, complaining about work, and other ultimately self-destructive activities.
Nesta Foundation, described as the UK’s innovation agency for social good, has called for a social media protocol of common higher standards.
Gen Z could urge social media platforms to introduce better flagging and rating of content. Big Tech needs to be convinced. Given the commercial pressures, it’s a tough call.