The Use of Social Media: An Exploratory Study of Usage among Digital Natives

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Word-of-mouth has long been an important concept in marketing communications. In today's world of Web 2.0, electronic word-of-mouth has materialized as a phenomenon of critical interest to marketers. Within the context of electronic word-of-mouth has emerged consumer-generated content in which consumers can quickly and easily create and distribute messages via the worldwide web. Given that today's college students are considered digital natives and comprise the Generation C market segment, one might suspect that this group would be active in creating and disseminating product/service content within their social groups. This research reports on an exploratory study that examined college student behaviors in the vast world of social media. On the basis of a content analysis of self-report behaviors, these digital natives are content with current technology and capabilities for their general role as spectators. They appear content with what they know and what they are doing. The research raises identity questions as to who the active innovators in marketing's social media ecosystem might be.