Social media for students

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Houzz, WordPress

In my casual surveys of architecture students from first year to final, I’ve been surprised to discover how few engage professionally with social media. While Facebook is ubiquitous and many have Instagram accounts jammed full of selfies, there is little interest to extend this activity into the professional sphere.

Architects, however, love social media. We’re suckers for it.

Most practitioners I know are active Twitter and Instagram users at the very least. My own professional network is smeared liberally across both the physical and digital realms. We enrich existing connections and make new ones. We share news, discuss current issues, and report on work in progress. Instagram is even gaining traction as a place to advertise job openings.

Given the prevalence of social media activity amongst professionals, why aren’t students better engaged? Sensis data reveals that Australians aged between 18 and 29 use social media sites than any other age bracket.[1] They are also the country’s most active users of Facebook (97%), Instagram (54%) and Snapchat (38%).[2] So more pertinently, why aren’t architecture students leading the way?

My suspicion is there are two main reasons keeping students offline professionally.

First is disinterest in the world beyond university, or perhaps a wilful dissociation from it. Tertiary studies demand an extraordinary focus, for which the messiness of practice can be an unwanted distraction.

Second is skepticism about the value of social media for architecture. Twitter, for example, is only good for telling the world what you had for breakfast. Instagram is the playground of Taylor Swift and Victoria’s Secret models. And blogs are those self-indulgent rants of conspiracy theorists and Star Wars geeks. Certainly, my casual surveys confirmed both, with many students just shrugging off social media as outside their field of interest.

Well, all this is a missed opportunity. Consider the numbers for a moment: 68% of Australians use social media, and 49% do so everyday.[3] It’s a surging wave of technology use against which we can either fight (and lose), or from which we can gain strength. Besides, I consider social media to be a great development for architecture. It has extended the reach of our work to a broader audience, and enhanced the communication channels within the profession. Students can and should be a part of it – the earlier the uptake of any new technology, the more likely our profession is to carve benefits from it.

Over coming days, I will publish a series of eight articles providing insight into the characteristics of the major social media outlets. I’ll discuss how I engage with them, and how they might be of interest to students of architecture.

An archive of the series can be accessed here.


Footnotes:

  1. Sensis Social Media Report; Sensis; Melbourne; May 2015; p. 14
  2. Ibid., p. 19
  3. Up from 62% total and 30% everyday in 2011. Ibid., p. 13

Image:

  1. Social media, logos copyright Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Houzz, WordPress. Composition by author

Author: Warwick Mihaly

I am an architect, writer, teacher and father.

6 thoughts on “Social media for students”

  1. Great work! I really want to see the rest of this series.
    Social and platforms is ALL about demographics and long-term vision. I think if someone reminded architecture students like myself more often that in 10-20 years when we’re out hustling in this business, that our clients will be our age or younger… then it would be obvious to all of us to go all in on twitter, instagram and snapchat. We’d execute a more authentic voice and stop fixing our gaze at what people 20-40 years older than us are designing, saying, selling and buying (architecture media). I’d love to see the analytics that indicate how well architectural media indexes amongst 18-26 year old non-architecture students today. I’d guess less traction than birdwatching.

    1. You’ve hit on an important point, David. A crucial offering of any media is the ability to reach out to potential clients (will be covered in subsequent articles discussing Instagram and Facebook). Surely there must be a study somewhere looking at what 20 year olds read?

  2. It’s interesting because on one hand as students and young graduates we’re told not to “work for free” and that we shouldn’t be working all night or at home, that work-life balance is important. However then on the other and we’re also expected to be completely connected to the wider world of architecture. I think a lot of students feel like spending time on social media as an architect in their free time, is somewhat like working for free?

    1. Thanks for your comment Tanya. It’s an interesting point of view, one I haven’t considered.

      I think to be working for free, someone else needs to be profiting from your time. I can’t see how that applies here. That said, I can see how being engrossed in the world of architecture in your time away from your studies might feel like work. For me, architecture = work = life. That’s not to say architecture is everything in my life, just that they’re very much entwined. It makes diving into some social media more of a pleasure than a chore (just like writing this blog).

      As an aside, check out my post on working for free: https://panfilocastaldi.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/why-working-for-free-is-not-okay/.

  3. And now I understand the sudden influx of twitter followers…
    Thanks Warwick 🙂

    BTW when are you taking over practice education? I learn more from this blog than I ever did at Uni

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