This study explores the digital and social media information habits and preferences of students, particularly as they concern issues-based communication relating to climate change and sustainability. Researchers surveyed 203 undergraduate students studying a wide range of subject areas in a small Canadian liberal arts style university. Results were analysed using basic statistics to determine broad trends in social and digital media use among participants, their assessment of what kinds of content they found engaging online and their preferences relating to searching and sharing information on news and issues. Different environmental messages were also assessed by participants for whether they were engaging. Participants used a wide variety of platforms, in diverse locations, but demonstrated a tendency to use Google and YouTube most often to search for issues about which they cared. Respondents indicated a preference for image or video-based content, and also indicated that images and videos made a website more attractive. They generally reported not sharing news on social media, and tended to rate environmental messages with a problem-solution framework as most engaging. This study suggests that climate-change-related issue marketing should favour YouTube and other video content, and should pay close attention to how environmental messages are presented in order to be most engaging to their target audiences.
Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing