Over my winter break while home from college, I completed an internship for class credit. Digital-first marketing and technology agency Primacy took me under their wing to show me the agency world, which I hope to join upon graduation. During my time here, some of my colleagues asked for my opinions on where, and how, students would be most receptive to colleges trying to advertise to my generation. Being a student myself, here’s what I had to say.
I am an 18 year old Internet snob. Like a picky eater with food, I have high expectations for the sites I visit. I need everything to work just right. I want to be able to utilize the technology the way it is intended to be used. By contrast, my parents are relative amateurs at using computers. Recently, I had to teach my mother how to attach a file to an email. She’s been using email since we first got a computer when I was five, so how she’s made it this far without understanding how to perform a simple function is beyond me.
My high expectations for the Internet, applies to every site I visit. Simplicity is what I look for. I want to be able to glance at a webpage and immediately know where to go for what I am looking for. It has to be interesting, too. My attention needs to be captured. I want to be able to come away with more knowledge than I started with.
When going through the college selection process, these requirements were crucial. Whenever I discovered a school, the first place I would go was their website and from there, I went to their social media sites. I looked up their Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram pages. On these sites I wanted to learn about the campus and the people that inhabited it. What does the university do for the community? What does the campus look like? Their social media pages offered an insight their websites couldn’t. It was more honest and personable, because anyone could respond to their posts.
At the end of my college search, I chose Endicott College in Massachusetts. I may be slightly biased, but when it comes to social media, I think Endicott is one of the best. Their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are focused on students and their needs. Each channel incorporates those living on campus in some way. Many pictures include student events, or activities. They promote sports teams and clubs, update students on news and even respond to students who tweet at them. This offers a feeling of community.
My Changing Preferences and Privacy
As a freshmen in high school I needed a place where I could express myself. I found Tumblr. At the time, it was an up and coming blog site, but has since grown to over 165 million users. Tumblr is a place where there is no judgment. It’s all about freedom of expression. You can create your own posts or repost others. The site allows for its users to relate to one another without having to talk to each other. It’s unique in this way.
I have since moved away from my blog. Too many kids from my high school began using it. Looking to gain followers, they found my site. They started to follow my page and read my posts. I didn’t like the fact that everyone knew my personal thoughts. My attempt to stay private is a huge reason why I have moved away from Tumblr. Lack of privacy has driven me off of Facebook, too. I still check it frequently but hardly ever post. The way I look at it is that if I really wanted someone to know my business I would tell them. I find this to be a general trend for boys my age. Girls not as much. Many of my friends don’t like sharing too much. But this all has to do with temperament and personal preference.
Today, I live on my laptop. It’s never too far from me. And if I don’t have my laptop, I have my smart phone. Four tabs are always open on my laptop: Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and my Endicott email. They’re a revolving top four. Netflix, is the newest addition, but quickly has become my favorite thing to do after a long day. Email is fairly new to me as well. Email at school is vital as it’s really the only way to communicate with professors. My friends and I almost never use email for personal use. Too slow; too clumsy. We prefer instant messaging or texting. Facebook and Twitter have been consistent. There have been more tabs and less tabs at times, but those two are the only ones that have remained the same.
Can I tweet that?
A common phrase exchanged between my friends and I explains the shift in our media usage. According to statistics, Twitter has almost 1 billion fewer users than Facebook. That overall statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. There has been a shift across the tech generation from Facebook to Twitter. Among my friends, Twitter is the hottest social media outlet right now. With over a few thousand tweets each, many of my friends are regulars when it comes to updating. I don’t see this shift changing any time soon.
Like I said before, I need simple. Twitter is just that. It asks for as few words as possible, as few pictures as possible but an unlimited amount of times you can do so. I found that Facebook was too much all the time. There wasn’t a word limit. You could upload as many pictures as you wanted at one time. It was too busy. I can’t function like that. I feel that this is the same for many of my peers.
Personal preference drives individuals to different social channels. It’s hard to determine on which would be the best to captivate the youth of today. Facebook’s large population makes it a front runner, however, its largest demographic is now over age 40. Twitter’s simplicity attracts teens, much like myself, making it an important outlet for companies to utilize. Instagram is another because pictures are the future. Quickly looking at a photo is easy. Instagram allows for ads to be imbedded in the news feed that kids already look at. To them it would be content instead of an ad. Businesses view this as an attractive and economical way to reach millions of Millenials and beyond.
The main goal of every site should be to capture my attention long enough to explain itself, to be simple and quick. If a company or university can do this, then they will be able to sell to us. Putting the selling points right into what they are already reading is crucial. Quick. Easy. Uncluttered. Perhaps entertaining. That’s how you’ll get us to stay.