Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Fachbereichs Betriebswirtschaft No. 6-2011
The insight that it is the medium that affects a society and not the content which is delivered over that medium, is not new by far, thus "the medium is the message" (McLuhan 1967). In contemporary industrial societies, the share of user-generated information consumed everyday over the internet may not have surprised visionaries like Marshall McLuhan. Nevertheless, now that young adults in particular, including the young-at-hearts, tend to avoid professionally-edited information and prefer blogs, videos, and other forms of user-generated content instead, it should be time to pause for a moment. The purpose of writing this article is to analyse how students use social media, to what extent social media usage affects their behaviour, and whether there are any differences between students in Finland and Germany in this respect. Based on this analysis of social media usage behaviour, the article contributes to the current discussion about social media marketing. Not surprisingly, the data analysis led to the conclusion that social media have become an integral part of the everyday life of young adults. However, the data revealed that heavy social media users attach little importance to word-of-mouth, hardly ever complain about products or services to their peers, and tend to dislike social media advertising. Does the aforementioned constitute reason enough for marketers to no longer believe in social media marketing? Probably not, because structural changes in the media landscape inevitably have an impact on marketing as well. The media are the channels through which messages move from sender to receiver and the difference nowadays is that the sender of marketing communications is not necessarily the marketer any more but the consumer himself. On the other hand, not all that glitters in the new social media world is gold and the proverbial wheel has already been invented.