The Kids Are Alright. With Facebook and SMS. But Not Twitter
By Ultan O'Broin-Oracle on Mar 14, 2011
I delivered a lecture to business and technology freshmen (late teens, I reckon) in Trinity College Dublin recently. I spoke about user experience in enterprise applications, trends that UX pros need to be aware of such as social media, community support, mobile and tablet platforms and a bunch of nuances around those areas (data and device security, privacy, reputation, branding, and so on).
It was all fairly high level stuff given the audience, and I included lots of colorful screenshots. Irish-related examples helped to get the message across.
During the lecture I did a quick poll. "How many students here use Twitter?" Answer: None. "How many use Facebook?" All (pretty much). So what do these guys like to use instead of Twitter? Easy - text messaging (or SMS if you like). They all had phones.
Perhaps I should not have been so surprised about Twitter, but it's always great to have research validated by some guerilla UX research on the street. There's already quite a bit of research about teen uptake (or lack) of Twitter, telling us young adults don't tweet. Twitter is seen as something for er, older people. Affordable devices and data plans that allow students to text really quickly are also popular (BlackBerry, for example). Younger people just luuurve to text each other. A lot. Facebook versus Twitter for younger folks? Well, we know the story. No contest: Facebook.
I would love to engage more with students like these. I'll plan for it. It will also be interesting to see if Twitter becomes more important to them over time. There were a few other interesting observations about the lack of uptake of Foursquare, Gowalla and mobile apps like that. I don't think there's a huge uptake in these kind of apps in Ireland anyway, but maybe students have different priorities anyway?
I'll return to that another day.