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Four Things Students Say About Social Media

Keeping up with ‘the kids’ is exhausting.

It seems like every year there’s a new trend or social media platform that affects the way we reach students online. Luckily for us, we’ve got a secret weapon in the never-ending fight to stay hip: Nearly 45 student ambassadors who represent us across social media (including Chinese social media channels). Especially considering our university’s small size, it’s a huge team. Here’s what we’ve learned from them this year:


FOMO Rules All


The pressure to make the most of the “the best four years of their lives” has always been a thing for college students past and present. Because social media never sleeps, however, ‘fear of missing out (FOMO)’ is at an all time high in 2016. From the moment they wake up in the morning, students are constantly plugged in to the people, places and things that are important to them on social media.

The takeaway for social media managers: Experiment with posting easily digestible content at different times of the day, possibly during high traffic periods when students are likely to be on the bus or taking a break between classes. For content that requires more of a captive audience (e.g. videos, long-form articles), try posting after 8 p.m. when students are more likely to be on their desktops instead of their mobile devices.



Facebook’s Not Dead, But Twitter Might Be

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They may not admit it, but Facebook is still an important part of their lives. Sure, it may be the family dinner party they can never leave but, as one student told us, “Facebook serves as the baseline for all the other social media platforms.” While Snapchat and Instagram are spaces where they get the stuff they want, but Facebook is a space where they get the stuff they need: Event information, trending conversations on campus, contact info for students they don’t know directly, … In short, it’s their Yellow Pages.

Twitter, on the other hand, is (directly quoting from a student here) “just lame.” Graduate students find value in it for professional development purposes but, for undergrads, it doesn’t serve a purpose that isn’t already fulfilled on their other channels.

The takeaway for social media managers: Thanks to the almighty Facebook algorithm, organic reach for brand pages is declining. If you want to reach students on Facebook, instead of working to attract more followers to your brand page, try posting your content in event pages, private groups and public, campus-wide groups. Try having a student ambassador or intern post on your behalf, so that it comes from a student voice.



The Days of Fliers IRL (In Real Life) Are Over

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If you haven’t before, check out the events tab of your Facebook profile. There, in one place, is everything you need to know about the things happening in your area, events you may be interested in and events your friends are attending (because nobody wants to go alone). For this reason, students say Facebook is the best place to promote an event. Paper fliers, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as effective.

The takeaway for social media managers: Having an event page on Facebook, and making sure it includes as much relevant information as possible, is essential if you want to promote an event. After you’ve created it, have students share with their networks and invite their friends.



On Snapchat, Continuity Is A Major 🔑🔑🔑

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For students, one of the appeals of Snapchat is that users don’t have to be fed content they don’t want to see. Whereas other social media platforms require users to scroll through a newsfeed, users on Snapchat consciously choose which story they want to see. For that reason, students say they want to know what to expect when they tap on your Snapchat story, so continuity is key to retaining viewership.

The takeaway for social media managers: If you manage a Snapchat account, try to be consistent with your content. Compose a distinct beginning, middle and end to your story so that viewers can easily follow along.

The State of Social Media at Duke, Spring 2014

Correct Cover SM Report Spring 2014
The social media universe has seen many changes this semester. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion. Snapchat usage blew up. Google+ lost its founder. Facebook changed their algorithm again and again and again …

Here at Duke, we’ve been busy over the past few months. Our social media team created a Duke-styled 2048 game. We hosted a #DukeSpring photo walk in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, resulting in hundreds of crowd-sourced seasonal images of campus. The Office of News & Communications produced a fast-paced video guide on using social media effectively in higher education. Current students held a number of online chats using Google+ Hangouts for admitted students.

We also did some data crunching. Amanda Peralta, David Jarmul and I prepared a short report/infographic showing the state of social media here at Duke this spring. Below is a snapshot of the data our team compiled.


A quick glance at some of the aggregate numbers for all of Duke’s institutional accounts reveals a vast presence on social media.


A look at growth and engagement on the main Duke social media accounts. One of the things we are watching very closely is the explosion of engagement on Duke’s Instagram presence.

metrics_graph1From the data, it’s clear to see social media continues to grow in importance as part of Duke’s news, communications and marketing efforts. We’ll be updating this report every semester here on Duke’s social media blog to keep you informed of our social media activity and trends.

Want more? Here is a link to the full PDF.

Social Media Usage Among Teens

A big research study on social media usage among teens was just released by the Pew Research Center. For those of us working to target this demographic using social media, the findings are especially interesting.

The key nuggets I took away? Facebook usage is waning, parents are watching what they do online and teens DO think about their privacy when using social media.

The full report is available here.

For those of you who don’t want to read through the whole white paper, key findings include:

Teens are sharing more information about themselves on their social media profiles than they did when we last surveyed in 2006:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
  • 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

60% of teen Facebook users set their Facebook profiles to private (friends only), and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings.

  • 56% of teen Facebook users say it’s “not difficult at all” to manage the privacy controls on their Facebook profile.
  • 33% Facebook-using teens say it’s “not too difficult.”
  • 8% of teen Facebook users say that managing their privacy controls is “somewhat difficult,” while less than 1% describe the process as “very difficult.”

Also interesting is what teens share and how they protect (or don’t protect) their private information on social media channels. This infographic demonstrates what they are sharing:


Social Media 2013: Internet users who use social networking tools

The folks over at Pew Research Centre recently compiled their annual research on the demographics behind social media users on different platforms.

The infographic below (courtesy of Adweek) takes Pew’s data and displays it in a nice visual, including these key takeaways:

  • Women are five times more than men to use Pinterest
  • City dwellers are significantly more likely to use Twitter than rural residents
  • Black people and hispanics are more likely to use Instagram than white people
  • The 18-29 year-old demographic is more likely to use Instagram than Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr