Distrust of mainstream media has now reached into the teenage community. According to an article in The Atlantic by Taylor Lorenz, there is a new outlet for quality information that is crowd-sourced and debated. It is the “flop” account, an alternative primary news source on Instagram built around opinion-based support for your own views on the news. Only a year-old concept, a flop account is self-started by a group of teens in middle or high school who form a peer discussion group around issues.
Flop accounts are named after a failure, something that the teen organizer believes is unacceptable. The format is a screen grab of the bad behavior with a comment explaining the disagreement. Others pile into the discussion, explaining why they have moral or factual differences with the celebrity or politician.
One of the largest flop accounts is toomanyflops_, with 20,000 followers. The image of the organizer is Jesus with a transgender rights flag behind him. A typical-sized flop is 1,500 followers, such as floppinpoppin, who covers abortion, racism and police brutality.
Edelman does not engage with flops online. That would imply adults monitoring or abusing the privilege of privacy. We do visit schools for specific clients, hold meetings with students, and engage with flop organizers on whether they would like information about a brand or an issue. In this way, we are respecting the position of flops as a personal vehicle.
Threads are another form of Instagram communication for the Gen Z crowd. This is for a slightly older demographic than flops. It serves as a means of finding answers while remaining on Instagram. The Atlantic’s Lorenz quotes one teen, “The format is a lot easier to read than stuff like Google.” Thread accounts are seen as more trustworthy than search engines. Organizers ask questions and encourage comments.
Edelman does engage with thread organizers, providing information, visuals and products.
The dispersion of authority continues. We need to provide opportunities for these teens to get information on brands or companies if they so desire.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.