How college students use social media / by Mike Takahashi

I recently had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion for the UCLA Social Media Group, which I manage and run. We had a diverse mix of undergraduate and graduate students from UCLA and discussed how they used social media in their personal and academic lives. Our topics ranged from usage and behavior, privacy, advertising and the value of interaction with brands, companies, campus departments and student services.

Here are some highlights from the panel discussion.

  • Usage and behavior in students changed dramatically from high school to college. Tools such as Facebook went from optional to a must have. Behavior went from self expression (posting whatever they wanted with no thoughts of repercussion) to very self conscious (what will people think about me?) and cautious (what information is out there about me?).
  • Facebook is THE social media tool have and a necessity for college students. It’s the primary tool that many student organizations on campus use to share news and events.
  • Students “like” a Facebook page simply because they like the brand or organization. For them it’s a way of showing to their friends what they’re interested in. They don’t necessarily “like” a page because they want to find out more information.
  • One common mistake a student pointed out that was very annoying was when people linked their Facebook and Twitter accounts so that the same content was posted constantly on both networks.
  • In regards to receiving communication via email or on social networks, students felt that anything important or business related should be communicated via email so it doesn't get lost within the stream of updates on social networks.
  • One graduate student who taught found Facebook had many benefits for teaching such as public discussions, which created a community online within classes. Questions asked by students such as, “When is the assignment due?” were often answered faster by other students than himself.