This article was first published in the November 18, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

As part of a series of articles on iGeneration teens, the Listener talks to four teens about risk-taking, social media and their online lives.

Storm*

Northland school prefect Storm, 17, will be the first person in her whanau to go to university. She’s worked so hard in her senior years that she’s won a $20,000 scholarship that will enable her to study arts and law in Auckland.

She has never had a boyfriend, doesn’t get drunk when she goes to parties, and doesn’t smoke cigarettes or take drugs. She says she’s in a minority, but she’s typical of a growing group of teenagers who are doing fewer risky things than their parents did at the same age – though she does buck the trends by working part-time and getting her learner driver license at 16.

Storm has grown up surrounded by people who smoke, and the idea of smoking puts her off. “I’m the person who has to inhale it when I’m in the car. Even my mum tells me we could have gone on holiday if she hadn’t been smoking, or you see people who are grumpy because they’re trying to give up.”

Her parents drop her off at parties and buy her a bottle of lower-alcohol wine to take. Friends organise a sober driver to take them home. She says many of her peers tend to drink Vodka Cruisers and some dabble in shots. “We went to a ­massive back-to-school party this year and one girl – it was her first time drinking – drank so much she was taken to hospital. I don’t like to binge-drink; I like to be aware of what’s ­happening around me.”

Storm spends about four hours a day on her ­smartphone. She has Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Spotify accounts but spends much of her time online researching ­assignments, playing music or texting friends.

She says she sometimes sees things online that make her yearn for what others have – a new dress or an overseas ­holiday, for example – but she’s been inspired and empowered, too, watching speeches by former US first lady Michelle Obama and singer Pink talking about their daughters, or by graduate students who’ve achieved their goals. “It makes you think, ‘If they can do it, so can I.’”

Storm is looking at life beyond Northland. “I want to make an impact on a national and global level. I can see myself being part of the United Nations.”

Siale*

“When my phone dies, it’s like my life has gone.” Year 12 student Siale, who attends a decile-one school in Auckland, says the only time she’s ­without her smartphone is when her family won’t let her take it to church on Sundays.

Online, Siale reckons she knows where to draw the line with her posts, and rolls her eyes at the friends who post increasingly explicit selfies on Instagram to get more likes. “If a normal photo doesn’t get enough likes, they need to show more of their body.” It’s odd, she says, how they might get hundreds of likes on Instagram, but never seem to have many friends in real life. She talks about an app called Melon that pairs you on video feeds with people based on your age and gender. Men use it to send girls dick pics, she says.

Most of Siale’s friends are sexually active and smoke weed. “I smoke weed. I’m just bored and get stoned. I’m not addicted to it; if there are more important things to buy, I’ll buy them. It’s the last option for me. It turns off everything going on around me and makes me feel like I’m in another dimension and I don’t have to worry about anything. Then the buzz goes away and it’s back to reality.”

Family dysfunction is her biggest stress, says Siale, who lives with her sister, brother-in-law and cousins. “Some teen girls tend to run away from home, but for me, running away would hurt my family more and it’s not going to help anything.”

She occasionally drinks alone, taking wine out of her sister’s cupboard. “I don’t get drunk and want to walk on the road. If I’m out and I get drunk, I know I need to be home at a specific time, so I can pass out in the house.”

She’s experienced cyberbullying first-hand, when she put a post on Facebook about a boy she was dating and discovered he hadn’t broken up with his ex. “They started to put mean ­comments on it. I couldn’t think properly. The only thing I could think of was giving them a hiding, but I knew if I were to touch them I’d get kicked out of school and it would hurt my family.” She talked to the school counsellor and the issue was resolved.

Siale says if she’s at a party where her friends get drunk, she does her best to look after them. “When they vomit and stuff, and it stays on their face, I make sure I clean it up. I talk to them when they’re sober; don’t shame them. I tell them about the outcomes of stupid decisions – what could happen to their safety, with viruses and stuff, and their reputation.”

Teens & Social Media

Image Credits: Pixabay

Iosefa*

At 16, Siale’s classmate Iosefa has his future mapped out – he wants to leave school next year and start studying to be an accountant. He doesn’t drink, or smoke cigarettes or weed. His attitude when his friends do it? “Disgust,” he says, wrinkling his nose.

Iosefa says he’s on his smartphone “the whole day” – it’s a distraction when classes get boring. “I use it 24/7: Messenger, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram – anything to cure the boredom.” But he says if he lost his phone, he’d miss the music and videos, rather than social media.

He says friends invite him to parties so he can look after them. “I’m like the sober safety man. I’m there to stop them having sex with randoms or getting too drunk. They know I’m there for them. They don’t like me stopping them at the time, but they do when they sober up. One time, a mate tried to hit me when I tried to stop him drinking more.”

Iosefa’s from a strongly religious, conservative family and doesn’t tell his mum if he’s going to a party, even if it’s just to look after his mates, because he says she’d never let him. Instead, he tells her he’s going to a friend’s place.

His teacher reckons most parents don’t know the half of what their teenagers post online, but Iosefa says that doesn’t apply to him – there’s nothing he puts online that his mum and dad shouldn’t see. “No, my parents are my friends.”

Natalie*

Fifteen-year-old Natalie attends a high-decile co-ed school in central Auckland. She doesn’t drink, smoke or take drugs and has never had sex. She comes from a solid, Pakeha, middle-class nuclear family and lives with her high-achieving parents in a suburb where the average house price is around $1.5 million. “I’ve got friends who party and are in that crowd, and I also have a lot of innocent friends. I’m somewhere in the middle and wouldn’t want to be in one or the other.”

Natalie’s closest friends, though, are more like her, so she doesn’t feel pressured to grow up too fast or get a boyfriend. “I don’t think you need to do that. For me, there’s being mature, and then there’s being mature because you’re drinking and having sex. But I think that’s being immature. We can see what everyone is doing [online] and how it’s affecting them … we know what’s going on and what it involves, which is part of the reason we don’t indulge in that.”

She always keeps her parents in the loop by text as to her whereabouts, and parties are rare. Socialising more often involves watching films at a friend’s house, going out for lunch, to the movies, or shopping.

She and her friends worry about exams and schoolwork, but Natalie admits that’s pretty superficial stress. Deeper down, body image and comparisons with others cause the most anxiety. “You put exceedingly high expectations on yourself that are ­impossible to meet. It can really knock your confidence, which lets in all sorts of other stresses and makes school exhausting and living in general exhausting because you have all these doubts and concerns that amplify everything else.”

Natalie uses Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for a couple of hours a day, but usually while watching TV or doing other things, and doesn’t post much herself. In the school holidays, she found herself in a messaging conversation with a friend for several hours after midnight, but that’s unusual. “I’m probably on Instagram more than the others, but only to look.”

She posts few selfies, because she’s afraid of being judged. “I care a lot about what other people think. I’m prone to comparing myself to others. I like to show I’m styley, because at school I look younger and I’m quite different when I’m wearing make-up and the clothes I like. I like people seeing that side of me more, but I don’t put it on social media. If there was a nice photo of me and my cat I would, because that isn’t me trying to look gorgeous. I get my self-validation in other ways.”

*Names have been changed.


This article was first published in the November 18, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener. And published on noted.co.nz on 4 January 2018

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

About Twitter

Are you a webmaster? If so, your website should generate income for you. Whether you sell a product, a service, or generate income through the use of affiliate links, internet marketing is important to your success. A successful internet marketing campaign will generate website traffic, as well as income and using a platform such as Twitter will increase your chances of a successful campaign.

In terms of internet marketing, there are many ways to market your website. In fact, you may be overwhelmed with your options. To get started, you may start with the most recommended approaches. These include submitting articles to article directories with bank links attached, purchasing advertisements on popular websites, exchanging banners with other webmasters, and learning search engine optimization. Yes, these steps are important, but there are benefits to thinking outside-of-the-box. When you do, you will find Twitter.

Twitter is a social networking micro-blog. At first glance, Twitter looks like it can be fun, but also distracting. Yes, it can be, but it all depends on how you use the service. If you aren’t already a member, register for a free account. Choose a username, password, and provide your email address. The next step involves developing a list of contacts. These are individuals whose updates and Tweets you will receive and follow. Look for others to do the same for you.

To make contact with other Twitter members, you can search based on email address, name and location. If you belong to online community, ask for Twitter exchanges. This is ideal if members are your targeted market. For example, does your website share work-at-home opportunities? If so, post Twitter link exchanges on work-at-home related message boards. These individuals will benefit from clicking your links and visiting your website. The more contacts you make on Twitter, the easier it is to market your site.

Twitter

image credits: Pixabay

How it Works

Once you have developed a following on Twitter, you can start marketing your website. This is also where you can make costly mistakes. Twitter, as previously stated, is a social networking website. For that reason, avoid spammy advertisements. Instead, be clever and social about it. A great introductory post is “Thanks for following me on Twitter. I just finished updating my website, tell me what you think.” First, this offers a personal introduction. Next, it accomplishes the goal of increasing page views.

When you receive followers on Twitter, you are encouraged to return the favor. This is not required, but it can work to your advantage. You will receive Tweets or updates from other members. These updates may include daily updates on activities, but questions are commonly asked. Does someone on your follow list complain about the long drive to work? If you run a work-at-home website, respond with an @reply. Your message could say “Yes, I remember those days. I am glad I now work from home. Did you know that you could too?” and provide a link.

In addition to responding to @replies from those you follow, visit Search.Twitter.com. Messages that are public will be displayed. In keeping with working from home, use targeted keywords, such as work from home, employment, and online jobs. Remember, be sure to include a personal message, but always include a link to your website. In addition to just answering a question, become a follower of the other member.

As for why you should cleverly market your website, it has to do with personalization. In the above mentioned example, you provided a link to your website, but you also provided a personal message. This shows that you are truly reading Tweets and not using Twitter for the sole purpose of advertising. When consumers feel used, they are likely to turn away. If you notice your followers on Twitter decreasing in numbers, it may be because your messages sound like spam.

In short, Twitter has the potential to be an amazing internet marketing tool, but use it wisely. Including a quick personal message with @replies and cleverly incorporating your website link into your Tweets is the perfect way to advertise your website, as it is an advertisement in disguise.

Learn More

 

Social media has the potential to become the largest source of online traffic for any company. That distinction is now claimed by search engines.

While search engines do have a wider footprint and record more activity than social media, the ability of companies to reach out to their target audience and in person is what makes social media special.

You can target profiles and hence generate quality traffic from social media platforms.

Search engines have very little to offer to companies that don’t manage to get their websites ranking on the first page of search results. Social media too has its share of challenges but those are a little less overwhelming.

The odds are a bit more manageable compared to organic search engine optimization. There are more than two billion people on social media. There are dozens of social media platforms. How you strategize your social media outreach will determine the traffic.

Social Media

image credits: pixabay

Here are ten tips to get traffic from social media platforms.

  1. Know what to post. It is no secret that you need to come up with engaging content to intrigue your followers and the larger target audience so they check out the links or information and get redirected to your website. Normal posts, shares and tweets or images and videos will be of little help unless there is a content development and management strategy. The content can be anything from an article to an info-graphic, an image to a video.

You could share short or long content, in snippets or as a larger report hosted on your website. You could publish content directly as pages on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Whatever you choose to share must be relevant for your audience. For instance, very few teenagers would want to read a three-thousand-word post. Very few professionals will have the time to check out a five-minute video. You need to know how much time your target audience will be willing to give you, what format they would prefer to access and what kind of information they are looking for. Develop the content accordingly.

  1. Interactive content works better than one-way communiqués. Polls, quizzes, surveys, contests and any kind of Q&A or inviting feedback will open up a channel of communication. Social media works best when there is a two-way communication and in real time. Twitter and Facebook have become phenomenally popular because of this reason.

Companies are using these mediums to engage with their audience live. When you are done with polls, quizzes, surveys, contests and feedback generation or addressing grievances, you should focus on content that will initiate a discussion. Contents that encourage or invite comments, where people have something to say will always score better than just close ended informative contents. The purpose is not just to share some helpful information but to get the reader to check out the website. Only that will generate traffic for you.

  1. Once you know what to post, you should know when and where to post it. There are specific times when people of specific profiles come online and check their timelines.

Students wouldn’t be online when they are supposed to be at school. Professionals will not check the posts from brands they follow when they are in the midst of their first meeting or the end of day session at work. Homemakers will rarely be online when they are cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner, doing chores or when they need to get groceries. Likewise, every social media platform has its periods of peak and off-peak activities.

Find out when your target audience is live or active and on which social media platform. Share your content when your target audience is online and has the time to check out your posts.

  1. You can post your content at the best possible time after due research and even then, your traction could be limited. Be sure that your competitors will also do their homework and post at the same time. Hence, you would need to repost your content. If you repost frequently then you would just be spamming your audience. Time, you repost smartly and offer something new every time. Do not just share or re-tweet. Add a new fact or highlight something new from the post as you repost it or share it. This will keep the same post interesting and you can avert being deemed a spammer.

  1. You must become an influencer or you should use influencers. Associate with influencers on specific social media platforms who are followed by many and whose opinions are trusted by many. If these influencers endorse your posts or share your content, then you can be sure of having a windfall gain in traffic.

Some influencers offer their endorsement for a fee. You could try this route. You can also go for organic endorsements. In due time, your social media presence must command the influence to form and shape opinions.

  1. Try to trend your content. You can use hash tags for easy indexing of contents and also to entice more people to check out the piece. You can sponsor a post or some content to pop up on timelines of people who don’t follow you. A trending topic will always have a larger outreach and you would witness a spike in your website traffic. Social media is all about expansive outreach and that is what you must focus on.

  1. Always work on the credibility of your brand. Your social media presence should be impeccably trustworthy. Spamming, sharing poor quality content or generating interest and then failing to satiate the needs of the target audience will erode the trust of the people and that can be hard to regain.

Trusted brands will always have more people willingly checking out the links or contents. Others will be shrugged off by the same people who still follow those handles or profiles.

  1. Promotion or an amazing offer is the best way to generate substantial traffic immediately. However, it cannot be misplaced, mistimed or poorly targeted. Do not put forth a discount for those who wouldn’t be in a position to purchase.

Do not come up with an offer that may look great on paper but doesn’t really help in reality. Do not promote everything but your bestsellers. Many companies commit this mistake of trying to prop up products that people don’t necessarily want at this time or the offers are not enticing enough. Go all out with your promotions if you want an exponential spike in traffic.

  1. Consider social media automation. Automate daily posts, use software to track the traffic generated from social media, use analyses to study the outreach and the impact of every post, have auto follow ups for any activity originating from social media such as a redirected user signing up for newsletters or making an enquiry.

These are some ways to make social media marketing more efficient, punctual and organized.

  1. Finally, combine social media marketing with email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click advertising and other outreach programs for an optimum impact.

Often, the first communication doesn’t generate traffic or any traction, the second or the third point of contact does and they don’t have to be through the same medium

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