Students not using Facebook messaging – thanks to event invitations

Posted by reyjunco on February 21, 2011 in Commentary, Research |

Facebook Event Higher EducationThis past weekend, @drjtothemastro gave me the opportunity to chat with this year’s group of Reitz Scholars at The University of Florida. Of course, the topic was social media. While we were collecting data for a book chapter we’re writing on the Senior Year Experience, I discovered some things about how students think about Facebook events that probably won’t make it into the chapter but that I wanted to share with you anyway. It is worth noting that the scholars I spoke with are, by the very requirements of the Reitz Scholars program, some of the most engaged students on campus. Therefore, I suspect that they receive and respond to more event invitations on Facebook than the general population of students.

The most interesting thing I discovered was that students said they no longer used Facebook messaging. Indeed, I went back to my recent survey of 2,400 students and found that 70% said that they “rarely” or “never” send private messages on Facebook. I’m guessing that many of you reading this are thinking that students got wise to Facebook privacy concerns and therefore jumped ship to send messages on other services. Surprisingly enough, that was not the reason. The reason that students gave for no longer using Facebook messaging is that the feel like it’s riddled with spam– and almost all of that spam comes in the form of event messages. Students were most enraged by two things:

1. When they kept receiving messages from events even after they’ve RSVP’d to say that they would not attend


2. When they received requests to attend new events that had been created by revising the old event

Student activities professionals can learn a lot from this. The migration from Facebook messaging reminds me of how higher education professionals have lamented since 2007 (as we wrote about in our Connecting to the Net.Generation book) that students don’t use email. I’ve always said that one of the reasons for this was because we (higher education administrators) spammed them with what we thought were useful messages, and in fact were just academic spam. So, when creating events on Facebook, be careful– don’t automatically send out private messages directing students to the event page. Also, don’t double up on events and announce new events using modified versions of old events. If you feel the need to get the message out there quickly and effectively, I would recommend investing in Facebook Ads.

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  • MikeSevery

    Good points Rey. I hadn’t thought about the potentinal spam nature of the events. I review my inbox when I get notices but rarely review the event updates myself. Perhaps that’s telling. We have used ads but have wondered about true effectiveness even with the clickthrough data provided by Facebook. Any information in your research on the effectiveness of Facebook ads? I’ve always thought of them as noise.

  • ArtEsposito

    This is great, Rey. It reminds of the SA Blog post way back in 2007 (when they were brand new):


    I think behaving as your own personal spam filter (i.e. reading the name of the sender and relegating irrelevant emails to the “trash” without reading even a word), is a characteristic shown not only by the Millennial Generation, but also by anyone computing in a post e-mail world. Kevin warned us in the early days, and it was a warning I’ve repeateed many times–be mindful of what you’re pushing and how, unless you want to be relegated to your stuednts’ trash folder. Thanks for this post Rey–as ever, you’ve giving us support for our suppositions!

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