Students use social media to spread their message in real time

2 weeks ago we identified how students were using social media to organise nationwide protests and the most recent protests in Whitehall revealed that their use of technology has become more sophisticated.

The BBC were showing a live video feed from the protests and newspapers such as the Guardian had web pages that refreshed automatically with the latest news from their journalists, but the really live content was coming from the protesters themselves.

By utilising Twitter’s ‘hashtag’ feature students had a way of targeting their messages and were telling the world about their experiences, in real time, with photos and videos being published within minutes of them being captured.

When a policeman was seen punching a student, photos from 3 seperate angles appeared on Twitter, followed by a number of videos and instantly messages containing his badge number were circulated. The speed with which a message can spread across social media cannot be matched by its traditional counterparts.

And it is the message that is important, if the message is strong then the news will spread and it doesn’t have to be a major news story like a national protest for this to happen. In 2009 we saw how social media was used to get Rage Against the Machine to the Christmas number 1 spot that had previously been dominated by whoever that years winner of X-factor was.

Facebook was the preffered medium for the ‘Bring back the Wispa chocolate bar!!’ campaign, which eventually saw Cadbury reintroduce it into the UK market. And currently on The Student Room we have seen a call for the return of the popular soft drink Vanilla Coke, which was pulled from the UK in 2006 but has developed a cult following on the world’s largest student site.

Time will tell if this campaign is successful but one things for sure is that The Coca Cola Company should keep an eye on it, brands are constantly being discussed on The Student Room and knowing what people are saying about you in a social media space can be a great way to get an insight into what people think about your brand.

The protests of the past month have shown that students are a vocal community and their constant connection to social media shows that they are the perfect audience to spread a message – whether it be political or commercial – beyond traditional channels.