Facebook opened itself up to high school kids in 2005. They signed up in droves because it was new, novel, and seemingly better than MySpace. Back then, you needed a computer to log into a social network. Since then, smart phones have come along, and with them came better options.
Twitter got big because of its clean functionality, ease of use, and the fact that everyone could see up-to-the-minute updates from their smartphone wielding friends. Kids live in the moment. Everything that’s happening “in the now” on Twitter is right at the top of the screen, and everything is in chronological order from newest to oldest. Meanwhile, Facebook screwed with our timelines by making them not chronological and by not showing us everyone’s updates.
Snapchat, which was originally known as a “sexting app”, has taken over the teenage audience because it’s a more attractive up-to-the-minute interface than Twitter, doesn’t require using text, and is less complicated to use and less pretentious than Instagram. Instagram users can upload photos and videos after they’ve edited the hell out of them in Photoshop. With Snapchat there is no upload option, the pictures have to be taken in the moment. You can write messages or draw on the pictures, but there are no filters or editing features. Plus, there’s something that seems to be attractive about the limited availability of a snapchat photo. It’s only on the screen for a few seconds, and if the recipient does a screen capture, the sender is notified.
Snapchat is easy and interpersonal. Instagram’s photos aren’t so personal, especially the pictures of food. Facebook’s clunky mobile app takes more effort and you can never be certain your picture or message has reached its intended audience.
What Facebook seems to do well is helping people find and interact with old friends and helping to keep in touch with people far away. Teens don’t have “old friends”, and most of the people they care about are attending the same high school classes they are. Plus, even if they don’t see their friends face-to-face in any given day, sending them a picture on Snapchat takes only a few seconds. They can save Facebook for when they want to message grandma, who doesn’t have Snapchat.