Sure social media is now a given in most higher ed campaigns. But, how many of us are doing real research? Paid research? Personal research?
In just my every day dealings with students and social media I’m finding two things: #1 they mostly text to Twitter/Facebook and #2 they use ‘Class of’ groups mainly to meet each other.
In texting Twitter and Facebook updates, this leaves out the interactivity that a mobile app would provide. Does this mean our students are not using mobile apps? Do they prefer to pass along information about themselves and only subscribe to a few friends updates? This could mean big things if a lot of time is spent updating these sites to keep students aware as they are in and around campus, yet they dont get these events in as timely a manner as we assume.
For the ‘Class of’ groups: originally we assumed that students would feel an affinity for the class year and eventually this could be handed off to alumni affairs, after passing through many other hands on campus. Yet, we are actually seeing a decline in members, even as more content is posted, events are added, and messages are sent in an unobtrusive way. Does this mean students do not align themselves with their class year, but rather a major or school? Perhaps they find the University FB page more helpful and timely?
Whatever the reason, time and follow up research will tell which way students use these key social media outlets. We need to be diligent in making sure others understand the importance of adding social media in their follow up survey’s and questionnaires. How do you research your audience’s social media behaviors? How do you segment this research and apply it to your tactics?
4 thoughts on “Knowing Your Audience: Social Media Behaviors”
In bringing up the assumption of class year affinity, you’ve touched on something that I’ve found to be true with virtually all higher ed institutions I’ve worked with or spoken with. People are generally have greater affinity for their program or school than their class year, yet we continually focus on class year. Why? Because we’ve always done it this way. It is a culture change that, as anyone in higher ed knows, will take a long time.
There are some really important points here. It all amounts to “know your audience,” doesn’t it? Know what they want, how they interact, how they want to interact with you, what tools they use, what they want and don’t want.
I agree about the class year group (or page): The utility is greatest before getting to campus. The unofficial (but legitimately student-run) Class of 2013 group for our college has fallen fallow of activity and even had a few (not many) members leave. But then they are (we hope) making connections and interacting in real life.
The mobile thing is a great point. When using a mobile device, Facebook becomes much more like a one-way communication device with updates and maybe replies to replies. The rich community features are less accessible and achievable.
Curious that your “class of” groups are declining in membership. Is this after they graduate or during the semester? Perhaps the content is not actually useful to them. Since we are not heavily using these groups, I could not give you any comparisons.