For the past three years, I’ve given a survey to first-year students (college freshmen) in my multimedia class at Drake University to see what they think about various social networks. These are journalism, public relations and advertising majors, so they should have a good interest in the way people communicate.

The survey asks them to rate social networks and to share their thoughts on how they use social media.

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Here are some key takeaways from the 2015 numbers (and follow-up discussions).

  • YouTube fell to third place in this year’s survey after finishing first each of the previous two years.
  • It’s a Snapchat and Instagram world. Not only did those apps rank No. 1 and 2, they were the only apps that have seen their rating increase each of the past two surveys.
  • Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube have been the top 3 networks every year I’ve done the survey.
  • This group likes social media in general and new technology less than last year’s group. I asked them to rate how they feel about social media in general (1=hate and 5=love), and the average score was 3.88. This was down from a score of 4.16 last year.
  • Facebook, Vine and Twitter had the biggest decline in popularity from the first survey in 2013 to this year.
  • They’ve never used (nor even heard of) Meerkat or Periscope – the current trendy social media apps.

See also: What the class of 2018 thinks about social media

This year, I asked them to rate 18 social networks from 1 (hate it) to 5 (love it). Here were the results:

NetworkAvg. ratingLove it (5)Hate it (1)
Snapchat4.37421
Instagram4.33441
Youtube4.28371
Pinterest3.72275
Twitter3.55176
FB Messenger3.38146
Vine3.37147
Facebook3.1854
tumblr3.141312
YikYak2.75416
WhatsApp2.61310
LinkedIn2.58212
Google+2.53113
foursquare2.43015
Periscope2.39016
Meerkat2.33018
Tinder2.13129
Myspace1.79038

 
Here is how the numbers compare to the past two years (for the networks that were on the list last year). You can see that Snapchat and Instagram are the only networks to grow in popularity each of the past two years. (See the image below larger.)

college-students-rate-social-media

Network2013201420152-year change
Snapchat4.044.164.370.33
Instagram3.994.254.330.34
Youtube4.464.514.28-0.18
Pinterest3.653.843.720.07
Twitter3.933.733.55-0.38
FB MessengerN/AN/A3.38 
Vine3.813.673.37-0.44
Facebook3.713.383.18-0.53
tumblr3.443.243.14-0.3
YikYakN/AN/A2.75 
WhatsAppN/A2.472.61 
LinkedIn2.712.622.58-0.13
Google+2.852.792.53-0.32
foursquare2.592.472.43-0.16
PeriscopeN/AN/A2.39 
MeerkatN/AN/A2.33 
TinderN/AN/A2.13 
Myspace1.821.741.79-0.03

 

The only other networks up from last year were WhatsApp and Myspace (which is the lowest-rated network on the list).

Every other network was down in this year’s ratings. The three networks with the biggest drop in popularity were Vine (-0.3), Google+ and (-0.26) and YouTube (-0.23).

About this year’s students

A total of 76 first-year students took the survey (last year there were 86).

They all own a smartphone (66 own an iPhone, nine own an Android and one selected “other”).

32 of them own a tablet.

When I asked them on what device they spend the most time (smartphone, tablet or computer), 62 said smartphone and 14 said computer.

I asked them to rate how they feel about social media in general (1=hate and 5=love), and the average score was 3.88. This was down from a score or 4.16 last year. Fifteen said they loved it and none said they hated it.

I asked them to rate how they feel about new technology in general, and the average score was 4.29. This is down from 4.35 last year. Thirty-two said they loved it and none said they hated it.

More social media results

I asked them which networks they spend the most time on (Twitter was No. 1 last year and Instagram was No. 4):

NetworkResponses
Instagram19
Twitter17
Snapchat17
Facebook10
Pinterest8
tumblr2
reddit1
None1
Youtube1

 
(Reddit was a write-in).

I asked them which networks they create the most content on (Instagram and Twitter tied for No. 1 last year):

NetworkResponses
Snapchat26
Instagram21
Twitter14
Facebook7
tumblr2
Pinterest2
Youtube1
Reddit1
None1
WordPress1

 
(WordPress and Reddit were write-in numbers).

Finally, I asked which networks they have used in the past month (Facebook was No. 1 last year):

NetworkUsed in last month
Snapchat71
Facebook70
Twitter63
Instagram63
YouTube61
Pinterest46
tumblr28
Vine27
YikYak23
Google+10
Whatsapp7
Tinder7
Linkedin5
foursquare1
Myspace1
Periscope0
Meerkat0

 

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