Social Networking Research: 99% of Your Audience Are On Them, Still Need More Convincing?

This data from the Participatory Marketing Network (PMN) was simply too compelling.  The article talks about how the majority of Gen Y have not yet taken flight on Twitter claiming that only 22% of 18-24 year olds are on it. However, you could flip this data to say that almost a quarter of them are there so your institution should at least be listening.  Personally I am tired of talking and reading about Twitter as it seems like every blogger has written about a dozen posts on it already.  I mean how many different things can you really say about a service that only lets you input 140 characters?

social network gen y graph 238x300 Social Networking Research: 99% of Your Audience Are On Them, Still Need More Convincing?Anyway let’s get back to the big story here.  According to PMN’s data:

“99 percent of this same group reports having an active profile on at least one social networking site”

How can you ignore that data?  We are talking about practically every undergraduate student that you have!  Some of the other really interesting findings include:

- Online social networks are hot for Gen Y
- 99 percent have a profile on a social networking site
- 89 percent have downloaded an application to their profile page
- Photos (89 percent), Games (53 percent), Entertainment
(51 percent), News (32 percent) and Weather (29 percent) are
the most popular applications

- Mobile social networking is heating up for Gen Y
- 38 percent have an iPhone or iPod Touch
- Games (53 percent), Entertainment (35 percent), Lifestyle
(31 percent), Financial - Free (28 percent), Financial - Paid
(7 percent) are the most popular mobile applications
- More than one quarter (26 percent) indicated none

Now what?

So the question now is what are you going to do knowing this data?  I know that we all run into cases where it can be difficult to convince administrators of the importance of social media, so hopefully you can bookmark this data to help make your case a little more compelling next time around.  Also be sure to check out the associated graphs that can be downloaded and printed at the end of the PMN press release.

21 Responses to “Social Networking Research: 99% of Your Audience Are On Them, Still Need More Convincing?”

  1. Says:

    Depends on which audience you’re referring to here.

    18-24 is current student, not prospective or alumni. Still, important data for that audience if you work with current students!

    • Says:

      We’re looking at that 18-24 market to target our grad programs - so they are prospective in some sense.

  2. Says:

    You know, the one stat that really jumps out at me is “38 percent have an iPhone or iPod Touch.” To me, that seems REALLY high. And maybe it’s just the part of the country I’m in, but I’d peg that number closer to maybe 10%, if that.

    I think the key is from the article: “PMN conducted the study in Maywith its research partner, the Lubin School of Business’ Interactive and Direct Marketing (IDM) Lab at Pace University, by questioning 200 PMN panel members and consumers between the ages of 18-24.” That to me says that the sampling of participants was, more likely than not, a local sampling rather than a nice random sampling. And by including PMN panel members, they are skewing the results with people active in marketing. I also don’t think 200 people is anywhere near enough to conclude any kind of accurate results.

    I’d like to know a lot more about their methodology first I think, before buying in to any of the stats, because this sounds a lot like Pepsi doing some research and discovering everyone really likes pop, but they also included a lot of shareholders in their sampling.

    • Says:

      I agree that it’s high, but don’t forget how many Apple laptop sales include a free iPod Touch, specifically marketed towards new students. I don’t think they all use the devices.

      If you do a quick search for iPod Touch on Craigslist you’ll find many students selling them, claiming that they just don’t use them.

  3. Says:

    Honestly, Kyle. I wasn’t shocked at all, when I saw this data. As a counselor at high school, I always heard the students talking about the social networking related stuffs every single day! It would be a big surprise to me, if I found a student that never getting involved with the Facebook or Twitter!

  4. Says:

    I’m wondering though, do these audiences really want to be reached through these tools? Twitter, sure. But it just seems like we’re dealing with a generation that’s very different in that, they’ve been sold to their entire lives.

    I’m not convinced porting old school marketing methodologies and applying them to 21st century tools is really yielding results. I mean, it might lead to some more ways to monitor your brand or to connect with people, but are those really conversions?

    I don’t think the Luddites stance of “we don’t want to dip our toe in the water,” will work either, but…I guess I’m not as convinced that there’s a one-sized fits all way to really apply what we’re doing on the social web and so, lots of people are going around looking for a fool proof way to improve their prospects via social networks and they’re going to be sorely disappointed.

    But I guess that’s where connecting with the bright minds offering up expertise would help. ;)

    Good post.

  5. Says:

    What are our thoughts on this vs the e-expectations stat that 22% of their respondents (high school senior pse applicants) are NOT on social media? This statistic has been bugging me all day - I hate being wrong, but tell me I read it wrong?

    The same study (2009 e-expectations) said that 75% of respondents thought schools should have a Facebook Page, but that respondents were torn over whether schools should use social networks to directly contact applicants (51% yes, 46% no)

  6. Says:

    Ron & Melissa,
    Great points. I think the angle I would drive home is NOT that you need to contact or directly market to these individuals through these networks (although there are lots of success stories of doing this), but that you MUST be present simply to say that you get it. Social Media for businesses is as much about LISTENING (a really hard thing for most companies to do I know) than marketing. People will tell you what works and what doesn’t. Also I STRONGLY believe that you have to be producing content regularly to show that you are a great institution and why can’t your Facebook (substitute any network) presence be a landing page all about how awesome you are that is a direct portal into the areas of your website that you want to drive this traffic. If you have great student blogs, wonderful interactive map, solid camps videos, etc well why can’t you syndicate those to these social networks or simply tell your audience that you are here and if you want to know more please click through to our student blogs and read to your hearts content. Do people really hope that students will magically stumble upon content on their site without putting bait into these various portals for users to “find” them?

  7. Says:

    Excellent points Kyle. There’s obviously no question that Gen Y is online, the question is where are they online? We know that Twitter and LinkedIn skew older but that also means that we can find alumni, faculty, staff and parents there. Even if Twitter isn’t geared to the core audience of student prospects, it is geared to other key constituents.

    Facebook on the other hand, began in academia and still has a large percentage of younger users. Quantcast says that 46% of Facebook users are 18-34 (current students, prospective grad students and young alumni). 27% are 12-17 (prospective undergrads). With Facebook getting 87 million visits a month, that’s a sizable target audience.

    These numbers are not insignificant and suggest that Facebook is a good place to reach current and prospective students.

    But we also have to rethink marketing. We can’t look at social media numbers in the same way we might look at subscribers to a magazine or viewers of certain T.V. shows. Social media isn’t just about advertising and pushing the message out, but about communicating. Thus these tools give us more than a way to promote schools, they give us a way to communicate with audiences, be they prospective students, parents or existing members of a university community.

    Twitter, Facebook, etc. let us begin dialogs with all of our audiences in the places they already inhabit. If students are on Facebook, then use that to promote events and get students involved in campus projects. If staff and the media are on Twitter use that to communicate news and announcements geared to them.

    There are thousands of social media tools available, we just need to focus on the ones that serve both our goals and those of our users.

  8. Says:

    Does the study get into usage beyond “belonging” - how much time, activity? What’s their level of involvement and where do they spend the most time and energy?

    I hate “99 percent have a profile on a social networking site” - I have profiles on sites I haven’t been to in more than a year. I have profiles on sites that I visit every few months but never really engage in. And I have profiles on sites that I live on.

    From a business perspective, I would like to know about usage, loyalty etc.

  9. Says:

    Great article. Very useful for my business. I hope you don’t mind but I quoted you on my blog…No worries I gave you credit and link.


  10. Says:

    I recently came accross your site and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this site very often.

  11. Says:

    I am curious about what the PMN network is because 99% seems unreasonably high.

    “200 individuals from the Participatory Marketing Network were surveyed” -From original study post on PMN

    Was the survey doen through the internet? If so it would be no surprise to see that 99% of those who participate in internet surveys would be on social media networks.

    All I am really trying to say is: Is this number truly representative of the average prospective student? Doubtful.

    Please enlighten me.

  12. Says:

    I completely agree with you.Yes, 99 % of your target audience are on social networks. Proper use of social platforms cab result into massive traffic to your website.All you have to do to come up with unique and stunning idea then spread it on all social communities wisely. There you go :)

    Only Try to avoid from spamming these communities as most of us are doing. Happy Social Networking :)

    Mark LopeZ

  13. Says:

    Personally i am on the social networking site and i agree with you that almost everyone nowadays has a internet profile.

    I guess the question is, where do we go from here. If everyone is wired on the internet, what will happen to TV, magazines and books in the next 20 years?

    I kinda find that to be scary. Personally, i am not a technology buff, but many people are. And i find with the advent of ipods and social networks, that people have forgotten how to communicate face to face. what do you think?

  14. Says:

    I have been looking at social networking sites for the past two years in terms of a marketing tool. I had a small business where I needed to meet with clients. Of course friends and family were the initial contacts for business, but with the popularity of social networking websites like, I saw that a tremendous opportunity existed.

    Having 500 friends in your online social network is like having free paid advertising. I have seen people online that I never would have expected. They range from kids of my firends to grandparents of friends. I can set my privacy settings (at least in, anyway) to choose how close people have to be to see my content. I keep my photos set to friends of friends because I want some visiblity but not total celebrity status(again a Zovue setting.)

    I think that everyone must know that social networking is at least a good place to start what I would call “targeted mass marketing”.

    On a side note, Zovue is actually a social shopping website as well. It incorporates an online shopping mall section and members can sell their products online too - it’s totally easy!

  15. Says:

    Excellent article. As for your “Now what?” question, alot of business have taken the idea of social networking one step further. By taking the knowledge that almost 99% of their target market are comfortable on social networks they are building smaller niche social networking websites that cater directly to their audience and play to their comfort zone. Interesting times we live in!


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