Wednesday, 4 December 2013

If you want to know something, ask a student

A few weeks ago I was teaching a session for the Year 2 eBusiness module at the University of the West of England, and we were discussing content syndication and analytics. Similar content can be cycled through blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook and email newsletters, being repurposed to suit each of these marketing channels.

I talked about how organisations can monitor interactions with these media, for example Google Analytics gives rich data about location, landing page, depth of interaction and so forth. Advertisers need to be able to judge whether their spend on social media is good value for money (ROI - return on investment)

Chaffey, D (2011) has a nice explanation of the cycle and suggests different ways of monitoring engagement, which can then be extended into measurements of ROI (return on investment) in social media.

A straw poll of 35 students in my class, mainly aged around 20, showed that virtually everyone is on Facebook, about 60% are on Twitter, but only 6% actively blog. I must admit that I found this last figure a little surprising.

Shortly afterwards I read an Observer article by Parmy Olsen "Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps" which suggests that teens are moving away from Facebook - possibly because of its public nature, and because it's now also populated by older relatives, and (shock horror) even a few teachers and lecturers. Instead they are using the more private medium of instant messaging (IM) apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk.

The same week I found out that one of my Year 3 project teams is using WhatApp for internal communications. I talked to them about it and found that the key features of WhatsApp are:
  • Instant messaging
  • Push messaging – with alerts
  • Can see whether people have read a message
  • Can set up groups
  • Discussion can be fast-paced
  • No character number limitation
  • Can send media, location, speech
  • Facebook has distractions!
Back in the Year 2 class I asked about IM use, and found that around 55% use IM apps - almost all WhatsApp - on a regular basis. In other words, nearly the same proportion as Twitter.

The Guardian article set me wondering about three issues:
  • If this trend continues, how can advertisers use IM channels? They would need individual information about people. Yes, you need individual information for an email newsletter or any other "push" medium, but emails can be harvested. If IM apps need phone numbers these are a lot harder to harvest. Maybe incentive schemes like loyalty cards would be a way to do this.
  • Assuming that advertisers use IM apps, how then can they measure the effectiveness of their spend?
  • Are teenagers also leaving Facebook to get away from its increasing commercialisation?

This is an example of two streams of thought coming together, my own reading and my observation of the Year 3 WhatsApp users - a pattern of synthesis.

Instant messaging is a trend that caught me unawares. I must admit that I'm not a fan of IM and try to avoid its use in a teaching context. This is because of an experience quite a few years ago where a student became over-dependent through the channel of IM, to the extent that it was penetrating too deep through my admittedly ill-defined barrier between work and home life.


Chaffey, D (2011) Developing a Joined Up Approach to your Social Media and Customer Communications

Olsen, P (2013) Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps

No comments:

Post a Comment