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Mind the tag: The rules of social tagging amongst NextGen

Celebrating its 14th anniversary this year, Facebook is dominating the social media landscape with its global user base growing year after year. In the first quarter of 2018, Facebook reached 2.19 billion monthly active users, with an 80% or higher usage penetration among internet users in leading markets. Although the platform started as a social space for (Harvard) students, today’s growth comes mainly from older generations jumping on the social bandwagon, while more and more teens are ditching the social platform.

Today, Facebook is no longer the most popular network amongst NextGen. According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, only 51% of U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) say they use Facebook, while this is up to 85% for YouTube, 72% for Instagram and 69% for Snapchat. Not only is NextGen dumping Facebook in favor of the more visual platforms, they also have their own (implicit) language and social etiquette on these social platforms.

 
Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: #NextGen favors more visual platforms like #YouTube and #Instagram over #Facebook https://insit.es/2MHzYOG by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #GenZ #socialmedia

 

A ‘like for a like’, that is what friends are for

Ever gotten a text or WhatsApp message saying “insta x”? This is just one example of the common cues teens send their friends to remind them to go and like their latest Instagram post. While this might come off as artificial for many, for NextGen this is just friend-etiquette demonstrating support. Depending on your friend-closeness, a simple ‘like’ might not be enough. True friends also comment on pictures, with the number of comments and the content of your comment implicitly revealing your level of closeness with the person posting the picture. Close friends will comment with things like ‘you look like a model’, ‘you are gorgeous’ and this through multiple comments, while a simple emoji like a butterfly or flower illustrates a supportive friend gesture and acknowledgement of the post.

 
Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: #NextGen has social etiquettes when it comes to commenting, liking and even tagging posts on social media https://insit.es/2MHzYOG by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #GenZ #socialmedia

 

Learn your friend status through tags

Followers, friends, BFFs (aka Best Friends Forever), BAEs (i.e. Before Anyone Else, one’s boy- or girlfriend)… people’s social networks have many friend layers and NextGen visually illustrates the type of friend status in their posts, by means of the location of a tag. Oh yes, simply tagging someone on a random spot of your Instagram post is no longer enough; there are implicit rules when it comes to tagging your friends. According to the social teen etiquette, it all depends on the friendship status. Regular friends are tagged in the corner of a picture, while your closest (and more meaningful) friends are tagged in the eye. When it comes to tagging your loved ones, the mouth is the right tagging location.

It is an unwritten rule to apply this tag etiquette when posting a selfie, where you tag your two best friends in your eyes, your lover on your mouth and all other friends somewhere in the corner of the frame. As a result, a tag’s location has been the source of many teen dramas, as it uncovers the perceived closeness and intensity of your friendship with another person. NPO 3, the Dutch Television Provider launched a web series called ‘Nettiquette’, which illustrates the implicit social rules amongst teens through 5 videos.

And apparently it doesn’t stop with teens. In 2017, Katy Perry uploaded a selfie on Instagram showcasing her ‘Kardashian look’, where she tagged every single Kardashian as various parts of her body, making one wonder what these tagging locations might mean.

Mind the tag

 
Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: Beware! Where you place your tag on your Instagram picture reveals a lot about your friend-status https://insit.es/2MHzYOG by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #NextGen #GenZ #socialmedia

 
So next time you are tagging your friends in a frame, beware where you place the tags as it implicitly reveals a lot about your friend status. Happy tagging!

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Posted in SocialMedia