And the Future of Social Media Is

By Dave Kerpen This past weekend to celebrate my daughter Charlotte’s 10th birthday, my wife and I took our daughters and three other 10 year-old girls on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. We had an amazing time, but I’ll leave my review for Trip Advisor. Instead, I want to discuss what all the 10-year old girls were focused on all weekend: Instagram.

As my wife and I are both social media entrepreneurs, it could be expected that our children would be quick to explore and adopt social media networks and tools. But what about the other girls? It’s a small sample size indeed, but every girl had an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or iPof Touch) and every girl used Instagram to take and share pictures of pretty much everything we did the entire weekend.I already knew about Instagram’s success and growth: 100 million users in just 26 months (It took Facebook over 3 years to reach the 100 million user mark). They also boast 45 million photos per day, 8,500 likes per second, and 1,000 comments per second. Instagram is clearly the face of the new visual, mobile web. But to see it in action all weekend, as four 10 year-olds celebrated #charlotteBdayweekend together using Instagram, really brought those statistics to life. Upon questioning the girls, I was further impressed by two things:

The Instagram App Ecosystem

My daughter and her friends use several apps besides Instagram to support their Instagram obsession. They use Instafan to look more closely at their followers and find their biggest fans. They use Versagram to overlay text on photos. They use Instalikes to get more likes and Instarepost to repost others’ photos. Basically, an entire ecosystem is developing around a social network that in itself is just a simple mobile app.

(Side rant: hearing about these apps from my daughter and her friends was the first time I’ve ever felt like an old parent out of touch with technology. I thought that, because I was in the business, I’d never feel that way. I thought wrong. When you and I were ten, we didn’t have apps, or i-devices, or the internet. We had wooden toys…)

The Mobile Internet

The other striking note from the kids’ behavior over the weekend was their use of mobile devices to access the web. We all know how quickly mobile use of the internet is growing versus desktop and laptop computer use--in fact, mobile use of the internet will take over land use of the internet by next year. But to hear it from a bunch of ten year-olds is remarkable. When I asked one of the girls how often she uses a computer to use the internet versus her iPod Touch, she told me:

“I only use my computer at home to do homework, like typing a report or something. For everything else, I just use my iPod Touch or my parents’ iPad.”

So, at least in this corner of the world that is 10 year-old girls in Port Washington, New York,  Instagram is the only game in town. These girls are too young to be thinking seriously about LinkedIn--except for my daughter, who is herself a young entrepreneur. And these kids don't want to have anything to do with Facebook or Twitter or Foursquare or even billion-dollar Tumblr. As I said, it’s a tiny sample size, but I thought it was noteworthy enough to share with you.

The good news for Facebook? They own Instagram. Perhaps that pre-revenue billion-dollar acquisition of Mark Zuckerberg’s from a year ago wasn’t so foolish after all. If you ask Charlotte’s 4th grade class in Port Washington, the future of social media is Instagram.

Now it's your turn. Do you use Instagram? How about your children? What social networks do you think will be the most popular ones in the future? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn