The impact of social marketing strategies on the information seeking behaviors of college students.

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Reference and User Services Quarterly






American Library Association

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Effects of social marketing strategies on student research behaviors were investigated. Three objectives were identified as target behaviors for change: (1) decrease procrastination due to the illusion of immediacy (2) increase students’ willingness to seek expert assistance when it is warranted, and (3) increase the selection of information sources based on criteria other than the information need itself, which includes the habituated and automatic use of Internet sources based on the assumption that they are more convenient, reliable, and easy to use. Findings suggest a positive impact as a result of marketing strategies attempting to achieve these objectives. Students who received messages based on a social marketing framework that emphasized these objectives appeared more willing to engage in discussions about the research process and were more likely to seek assistance from a librarian. A number of students reported successful encounters with librarians in meeting their research needs. Students who only received skills instruction reported attempting to use research tools like databases, but gave up in frustration. Due to relatively little research on how social marketing strategies can be used to change student research behaviors, more research is warranted to explore this connection. More investigation is also needed regarding how to help librarians learn how to package and deliver messages using a social marketing framework.


Originally published by the American Library Association. Full text available through remote link.