For the seventh year in a row, three social networks finished atop my annual survey of first-year students in the Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Students are asked to rate various social networks from 1 (hate it) to 5 (love it). I do this survey on the first Friday of classes every fall, capturing data from first-year students in their first week of college.
This year, YouTube took the top spot with Snapchat and Instagram tying for second place. And if you’re willing to accept Spotify as a social network, it also tied with Snapchat and Instagram.
Here were this year’s overall results (including Spotify):
|Social network||Score||Love it||Hate it|
I also asked the students about Netflix (out of curiousity – I’m not saying it’s a social network). The students scored it a 4.7 – higher than any social network has ever scored on this survey.
In addition to the survey, I talk to students about social media trends.
Here are my key takeaways from conversations with three different classes:
- Instagram is still where you show the best you. But you don’t post often – every two weeks or less.
- Their first-day-of-college photo was only worthy of an Instagram Story post, not a post to their feed.
- Speaking of Instagram Stories, many still are not fans of posting them or watching them. There’s just too much going on there.
- Finstas (second Instagram accounts for only close friends) are out – replaced by Snapchat’s private stories shared with groups of friends.
- Last year’s trend of creating shared Instagram accounts with friends is no longer a thing.
- Spotify is a legit social network. It’s also made podcasts more mainstream to this audience.
- When you meet someone new, you still get their Snapchat account info first (not a phone number).
- Snap Maps are a big deal – used to find people and see when your friends are available to chat.
- They’re using Snapchat’s Discover feature to get news and info and to kill time.
- Their opinion of Twitter is on the rise. They use it to get news (politics, sports, etc.) and funny content. Note that Twitter’s score was it’s second-lowest ever on this survey.
- Facebook is valuable for connecting with family, for groups and for finding out about events.
- VSCO is still popular, but they keep their networks small or just use it for editing photos.
About the students
A total of 54 first-year students took the survey (last year there were 73). Three of them were 19 years old. One was 17 and the rest were 18.
They all own a smartphone (50 own an iPhone, 4 an Android).
Nineteen of them own a tablet (that’s a higher percentage than last year’s survey).
When asked on what device they spend the most time (smartphone, tablet or computer), 52 said smartphone, two said computer and none said tablet.
I asked them to rate how they feel about social media in general (1=hate and 5=love), and the average score was 3.93. This was down from a score of 4.15 last year. Nine said they love it and zero said they hate it.
I asked them to rate how they feel about new technology in general, and the average score was 4.28. This is up from 4.23 last year. Twenty said they love new technology and zero said they hate it.
More about their social media use
I asked them how many times a day they check social media sites. Twenty-nine of them said they check social media sites 10+ times a day. Sixteen said 5-10 times a day and nine said 1-5 times a day.
I asked them on which social network they spend the most time.
I asked them on which social network do they create the most content.
Finally, I tried to find out which social networks they actually use. I gave them a list of social networks (not necessarily the same ones as above) and asked which they’ve used in the past month.
|Network||Used in last month|
I am an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Drake University in Des Moines. I’ve been teaching here since 2010. If you’re interested in talking to me about this information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.