I recently received this press release from the PRSSA chapter at my alma mater, and found the results interesting enough that I wanted to share with you. Basically, a research team found out that social media marketing might not be as hard-hitting in the college crowd as we thought. Granted, the sample size is a bit on the small side, but I do think the concept behind the research is worth noting: many college students only use these sites to interact with their friends, not with companies and brands. It’s hard for me to imagine this since it’s what I spend the majority of my day doing, but I’m really interested to see what you all have to say after reading the press release:
A recent survey conducted by a research team from the Walter E. Griscti chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America at the University of South Florida reveals that this generation does not understand the business applications of new social media sites like Twitter.
Of the 250 Florida college students surveyed, 99 percent use social networking sites. However, only 15 percent have an account with Twitter and 34 percent have never even heard of the site.Some 58 percent of the students who have Twitter accounts never use the service or rarely log-on.
“There is a stereotype that because students are always plugged in that they understand the strategic uses of social media sites,” said Kelli Burns, professor at the University of South Florida and author of the forthcoming Celeb 2.0: How Social Media Foster our Fascination with Popular Culture. “Businesses have a misconception that students know how to use Twitter; these findings prove otherwise.”
The research team survey results reveal two distinct findings. First, college students are not active Twitter users. More importantly, they are not interested in interacting with brands through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
A common misconception is that sites like Twitter offer an innovative way for advertisers and companies to interact with the young demographic. However, 75 percent of students say they would be “not at all interested in” or “don’t care about” following brands, companies, or organizations on Twitter.
Many companies assume that social media enables college students to be smarter consumers. Sites like Twitter, social media analysts claim, act as a medium for the new two-way communication between brands and consumers. Given the media chatter about the importance of social networking for corporations, there is a disconnect between the promise of social media and reality.
Results reveal that a mere 6 percent of college students follow companies and only 4 percent follow brands on social media sites. These findings suggest that if corporations and communicators continue to bet on college students using social media sites effectively, they may come up empty handed.
The fact is that college students use social media sites primarily for keeping in touch with friends, not for networking or brand interaction. Until Millennials become less weary of this interaction, the gap between what business professionals expect and what college students actually know will continue to widen.
Do you think this report is accurate? Do brands communicating online miss the mark when attempting to engage with collegiate consumers?