Aug 20 How Yik Yak May Change My Daughter’s Choice of College
I suspect many parents have, at best, a vague awareness of the anonymous social media app Yik Yak. I’ve been working in social media marketing since 2007, have three teen daughters and am only distantly aware that it exists and that it gathers updates based on a user’s location.
My daughters have mentioned it as a fun way to sort of group chat with other (anonymous) attendees at a concert, for example. Posts get upvoted and downvoted, so capturing the mood of a location accurately or humorously elevates your content.
Unrelated to social media, as my oldest prepares to start her senior year in high school, she has begun to narrow her list of college choices. She currently plans to apply to 6 schools, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on three, and call them College A, College B and College C.
Yik Yak Research
It’s important to my daughter to get a good education and she’s also set a series of other requirements regarding academics, extracurriculars, distance from home and more. That research narrowed her down to the 6 schools on her short list.
But also on her list is that she wants to enjoy her college experience and be proud of where she goes. To that end, she’s started looking at Yik Yak streams from each of her three leading colleges. (It’s important to know that students at these colleges can still post to their college-affiliated Yik Yak streams even while home for the summer.)
A Changing Leaderboard
Early on, College A was in the lead, College B was a curiosity and College C was on the list because it fit the criteria, but my daughter had little knowledge of it or passion toward it. That all changed when she started reading Yik Yak.
- College B‘s students apparently hate their school. Many of the top posts were about dreading returning for the fall semester, or how the administration doesn’t care about the students once they cash their checks. College B’s stock fell fast.
- College A‘s students are snarky. Intelligent, often humorous, but generally snarky. That can have it’s pros and cons, I suppose, but the students were neither dreading returning nor expressing excitement about it.
- College C, however, is currently making the strongest move up the outside, mostly because of Yik Yak. Students on that stream talk about their excitement about coming back, seeing their friends and getting back into the environment. That’s how my daughter wants to feel about her school. And lest you fear that she’ll make a college decision based solely on this data, she has:
- Asked to visit this school to make her own decision, which was something she didn’t have on her list before; and
- Done other research online that confirmed student’s high satisfaction with College C.
A Reputation Management Issue
I’m in the midst of watching how much time, energy and money these colleges put into luring in applicants and, eventually, their incoming class. The direct mail budget is huge. The photo shoots. The careful prose extolling their academic prowess.
But in the midst of all this, that’s not what’s resonating with a generation raised on smartphones, social networks and candid reviews on Amazon. What’s resonating with this generation is the unfiltered data that shows the real picture. Just as no one review on Amazon closes or kills a deal, no one post or comment is the game changer for these schools. The totality of the picture that students create with their posts, and how they feel about their larger experience, certainly is.
As she looks to make a key life decision, my daughter is trying to balance her personal experiences, with the data she can easily research and gather, with this soft analysis found on social media like Yik Yak.
I expected the first two factors would be part of her decision, but the last one surprised me and, frankly, I think it’s somewhat brilliant.
If you’re interested in learning more about social messaging applications, read our previous post regarding “everything you need to know.”