BrainTrust Query: Going Unplugged for 24 Hours
Commentary by Mark Johnson,
President and CEO, Loyalty 360
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary
of a current article from the Loyalty 360 blog.
Two hundred University of Maryland students from a variety of majors were
given what seemed to be a fairly simple challenge: abstain from social media
for 24 hours.
Abstaining from social media meant no iPhone … no text messaging … no
laptops … no netbooks … no tweeting … no email … and no
Facebook. This return to simplicity was like taking these student fishes out
of their interconnected waters.
The study, “24 Hours: Unplugged,” was conducted by the University’s
International Center for Media & the Public Agenda in February/March, 2010.
students blogged about their trials and tribulations of being unplugged for
a day (yes, one day!) — even though most failed to make it through an entire
24-hour span without giving in to the lure of social media. Posts such as,
“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening” or, “I felt
like a person on a deserted island … I noticed, physically, that I began
to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe
I am,” were
The study found that these students cared about what was going on among their
friends, families, communities and the world at large. Yet, most of all, they
cared about being cut off from that instantaneous flow of information — no
matter where they get that information. Information, they discovered, was a
precious commodity, one that they used to define themselves in comparison
to their peers. One student said he realized that he suddenly had “less information” than
“everyone else,” regardless of whether that information involved
“news, class information, scores, or what happened on Family Guy.”
According to the study results, students also made it clear that socializing
and the flow of information were inextricably intertwined. For example, when
the earthquake in Chile struck, most students didn’t learn about it from
newspapers or the evening news. They found out about it first through contacts
on social networks sites, and that information propelled them to visit mainstream
news sites. “People who do not use media as frequently as our society does
are probably missing out on important news and social interaction,” the
For marketers, the implication of these findings is straightforward: social
media is the most effective way to reach this key demographic. And while this
is not a revelation, what’s eye opening is the students’ need for
connectivity and the constant access to information. Delivering information
— versus marketing messages — is the key to engaging these students.
Discussion Question: What lessons can be learned
from the 24 Hours: Unplugged study? Have you seen marketers that are using social
media messaging effectively for this totally-interconnected demographic?
Unplugged for 24 Hours – Loyalty
- Students Addicted to Social Media – New UM Study – University