Social Media Focus Group

Over the last few months, I have conducted several focus groups of traditional and non-traditional college students and college professors. The focus group was centered on Social Media and Mobile Marketing.

As social media and mobile marketing are another marketing channel, I felt it was important to go to the source to find out how college students view these two channels. There were some surprises and some findings were as expected.

The biggest surprise was that neither traditional nor non-traditional college students were on LinkedIn. Maybe it’s because they are still in college and don’t realize the professional value of LinkedIn in building connections and finding positions. However, all of the professors are active LinkedIn users and state that it is their preferred social media channel.

As I sit here writing this blog, that I have been told is necessary to our SEO efforts, I question if there is any other value to blogging. These students and their professors admit that only 1 of them blogs and only a few read blogs. I wonder about all of the thousands of blogs circulating on sites such as this that are unread. I’m hoping blogging contributes to our SEO efforts, as it takes time to write something that you hope some will find helpful – yet you realize that few, if any, will ever read them.

Then there was the Twitter revelation. Other than their college communicating to them in case of an emergency situation, none of them want to receive Tweets or Tweet themselves. The only exception to this was that 2 of the students eagerly await the Tweet from the local bar announcing what the food deal of the week is. It certainly makes you wonder who is doing all that Tweeting and who is reading all of those Tweets.

How do they want businesses to communicated with them? (drum roll, please) – Magazines, Relevant Direct Mail, Email and Television Advertisements. Yes, even the younger set still love to page through a magazine – and they do look at the advertisements. And, while many proclaim direct mail as dead or dying, these individuals love receiving mail when it is relevant to them.

The students are perfectly fine with businesses communicating with them through email, but will quickly ignore, and even block, those who try to market to them through texting to their mobile devices. They feel that texting is for friends and family only. Professors, on the other hand, “live” on email and do little, to no, texting. This is likely a generational issue and will probably change.

Facebook seems to be the social media channel where both groups agree. Everyone has a Facebook page and all state they don’t notice, or pay attention to, banner ads and pop-ups while on Facebook. They also all find it annoying to receive too many updates, messages or invitations to events and games – moderation seems to be the keyword here.

When asked about the newest mobile marketing channel, QR Codes, hardly any of them even knew what they were. They did all agree that they would want to know where the QR Code would take them before they scanned it from their mobile device. The number one desire was for coupons or discounts, particularly for food products. I guess the way to a man’s (and woman’s) heart is still through his stomach!

All of the students have downloaded Apps and the most preferred downloads are for games and sports. Only 1 lone teacher has downloaded an App and it was for business. Again, surely a generational gap.

The loudest message heard from all participants is that they do not want to be marketed to excessively. In fact, they stated, “don’t call me, I’ll call you when I want to buy”. So, it would seem that indirect marketing may work best for this group – relevant direct mail, magazine advertisements and television ads. They can tune you out, fast forward through your commercial or put you in the recycling bin – they have the control. And, isn’t this what we keep hearing? The customer is in control of the relationship! It would be wise to ask them how they want to be communicated to and then honor those preferences.

About Debbie Simpson

President of Multi-Craft in Newport, Kentucky.
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