Monday, January 27, 2014

How students use social media

The last 3 years I've had the honor to give a guest lecture to a group of around 30 students. They are in their 2nd year of college. The class they are taking is about ‘consultancy’ and I was asked to share my consultancy experiences in the intranet and enterprise 2.0 field. I really enjoy lecturing for and discussing with them. They hardly have any feeling for working in mid-sized or larger organizations. They really keep you grounded by their straight-forward approach to projects and problems. This year I used a case from one of my clients, described the case and asked them to ‘solve’ it. How would they address the client’s assignment? I thought it was a lot of fun and we had a lively discussion about it.

Trends in social media use
But what I wanted to share with you is which social media they use and how they use it. The previous years I also shared these numbers with you. I think it gives an interesting insight into social media usage patterns. The group is quite small so we can’t jump to conclusions. (More research on this topic can be found here and here.) But it does give a small indication of where things are heading.

The numbers
First let me give you the numbers. I basically asked them which social media they are using, if they use just have an account, only consume info or post & consume info. Here’s the list:
  • Twitter: 18 have an account, 14 use it to consume tweets, 2 actively use it for interaction (read and post)
  • Facebook: 24 have an account, all use it for interaction
  • Hyves (Dutch social network): 16 have (had) an account, nobody uses it
  • Google+: 2 have an account, 2 use it for reading, nobody for posting
  • Snapchat: 9 have an account, 7 use it for posting and reading
  • Whatsapp: 24 have an account, all use it actively
  • LinkedIn: 14 have an account, only 2 use it actively
  • Instagram: 14 have an account, they use it every now and then
  • Pinterest: 2 have an account, they use it every now and then
  • Foursquare: 1 has an account and uses it actively
  • Youtube: of course almost consume video, only a few post video's every now and then
  • Blog: 5 have blog, 5 read other blogs and 2 blog actively
What students say about social
I also wrote down the remarks they made about the platforms:
  • Google+: don’t see added value
  • Snapchat: fun to use and not pervasive (vluchtig)
  • LinkedIn: only for resume, not used for groups
  • Pinterest: hardly any users, only girls, for inspiration
  • Instagram: like the fact that it’s mobile only
  • Blog: had to blog for a class, so actually everybody has a blog. Only 5 blog regularly. One used it to share insights related to the company that he owns and for linkbuilding. Another used it to share his passion about his hobby (music).
Patterns in the numbers
I’m fascinated by these numbers. I like the practical way they talk about using and choosing the platforms. It also shows that some of the platforms are clearly not for students but for employees. LinkedIn is hardly used, but I’m sure they’ll use it much more to find a job and when they have a job. Another think that strikes me is how Twitter is used to consume not publish information. They follow people they look up to and Twitter keeps them up to date on their lives.

Comparing these results with last year's I see the following:
  • More students actively use Twitter compared to last year.
  • Instagram is more popular than last year, but not very popular. The same goes for Pinterest.
  • Google+ is hardly used
  • Whatsapp wasn't mentioned last year and now use by all students.
  • Facebook remains a core social tool for youngsters.
  • LinkedIn and Foursquare show the same level of engagement among teens.
Your ideas
I’m curious what you learn from this list. And if you interact with youngsters and student, do you see the same or different patterns?

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