The ExactTarget Blog

Our 2008 Channel Preference Survey showed how college students are experiencing a tipping point of sorts with their personal communications. In fact, 34% of 18-24 year-olds said they use email and 34% said they use text messaging (SMS) when asked the medium they use “most often” to send written messages with their friends. However, just 19% prefer instant messaging (IM) and 9% prefer sending messages via a social networking site.

Will the entrance of today’s college students into the workforce change the way businesses communicate in the future? Will Facebook be the way young employees communicate with one another in 2011?

I think that most of the difference in personal communication preferences can be attributed to life-stage (unique needs, communication types, acceptable norms) than a generational difference that will be carried with to the adult stage. Using the “When in Rome, do as they do in Rome” concept, I think the platform, or forum for the communication is what primarily drives the messaging media selected. So, as today’s college students enter the workforce they will most likely be forced (or strongly coerced) to adapt to the email culture of their employers.

New platforms like social networks will prove difficult for marketers to penetrate, because most will approach it a bit too brazenly. Our survey data showed that 18-24 year olds report being nearly immune to the ploys of marketers. However, a new survey from Synovate shows some aren’t being entirely truthful. Or perhaps, is it just that when they interact with brands it is in a much more social manner? For example, 62% of 18-24 year-olds in the Synovate survey reported passing along comedy clips. Perhaps the best way for marketers to have their brand talked about is to encourage this kind of friend-to-friend pass-along. Maybe our ads just need to be funnier?!

Stay tuned for blog updates with additional takeaways from a recent panel we conducted as we hosted a number of faculty and students from the Ball State Center for Media Design. We’ve got lots of nuggets to share and insights for marketers on how to pick the right medium for the job.