Social Media Analytics Course Gives Students Hands-on Experience

April 24, 2017
Comm lab

One of the School of Communication’s newest undergraduate course offerings is a Social Media Analytics class. The class utilizes the social media analytics software, Crimson Hexagon, to give students the opportunity to work with a tool being used by some of the largest and most experienced companies.

A large component of the class is social listening, or monitoring digital conversations to understand what consumers are saying about a brand or industry online. Using this information, students decide what insights should be fed back to a company to help shape their social media and larger communications strategy. 

The students also analyze location and emotion/sentiment analytics using Crimson Hexagon. However, to test the accuracy of the tool, the students also used an emotion dictionary to conduct a sentiment analysis.

Joseph Bayer, assistant professor, teaches this course and said this class gives him the opportunity to show students “what happens behind the curtain.”

“The cool part about this course is that it is more hands-on than most social media analytics courses,” Bayer said. “We are using a tool that is proximal to what is being used in the industry today.”

In addition to examining Twitter, Bayer believes it is important to show his students how that data fits into the “bigger picture.” For example, Twitter activity and Google search results on a certain topic are generally similar and Bayer tries to exhibit this to his students through in-class activities. 

The course culminates with a project that tasks students with analyzing two companies – a local one and an app from the Top 100 list. Students analyze what people are saying online and how the company is responding. Bayer believes this offers students the opportunity to independently work with tools they could use in their careers.

“Upon completing this course, students will be well-prepared to conduct analyses for companies,” Bayer said.