A quarter (24%) of UK students use Google+ compared to 45% who use Twitter, according to a new survey by The Beans Group.

This will be encouraging news for Google, although the question doesn’t ask how often respondents use the site or for how long at a time.

The Youth Insight Report 2012/13, which interviewed 1,698 students during April and May, confirms that Facebook is far and away king of the social networks, with 97% of respondents using the site.

Pinterest is the tenth most popular network (6%), with only Quora (0%) proving to be less popular.

Social activity

The report also looks at why students use Facebook.

A study from the CMO Council found that consumers one of the main reasons people engage with brands on social networks is to be eligible for exclusive offers (67%) or gain access to games or contests (65%).

However, the Beans Group survey suggests that students aren’t necessarily doing this in large numbers.

When asked what they use Facebook for, only 13% said it was for offers and discounts while 6% said it was for information about brands.

The most common answers were entertainment (53%) and chatting with friends (94%). 

There is obviously still a huge opportunity for brands to engage with students by entertaining them, either through interesting content or timeline apps.

The survey found that 64% of respondents use apps on their phone, while 27% use Facebook or Twitter apps.

Therefore if Facebook ever creates a decent user experience on its mobile app, then branded timeline apps could be a great way to increase consumer engagement.

We have previously highlighted six clever examples of branded Facebook apps, as well as five fashion brands using apps to boost their traffic

QR codes

Despite describing to respondents in detail what a QR code is, 9% still said they had never seen one.

As QR codes are so prevalent in magazines and on posters these days, it is hard to believe this is the case. It is far more likely that these respondents simply aren’t aware of what QR codes are.

And while 86% of respondents said they are aware of QR codes, only a quarter (25%) “have used one or am likely to,” with the remainder claiming to be “unlikely” to scan one.

While the number of students willing to scan QR codes is still quite low, the proportion is far higher than in the overall population.

According to a study by CBS Outdoor and Kantar Media, 40% of European consumers are aware of QR codes and 13% have scanned one positioned within an outdoor advert.

So awareness and usage among younger age groups is definitely higher, and suggests the technology could have a long-term future.

But, as one student in the Beans Group survey points out, QR codes are far from being a perfect solution.

“Those big pixelly code things you see on posters? I can’t be bothered with them! By the time you’ve photographed it and waited for the internet, you might as well of typed it into Google.”

The full report will be available from The Beans Group in July.