• QUT logo

Social Media Analytics: Using Data to Understand Public Conversations

How can you tap into social media conversations, and discover what’s being said about the things that matter to you?

Social Media Analytics: Using Data to Understand Public Conversations
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • CertificatesAvailable

Why join the course?

From the personal to the political, social media conversations are at the heart of cultural and social change. In this course you will be introduced to digital methods to analyse social media data on Twitter. You will learn from leading researchers, engage in hands-on activities and confront issues in social media data.

Week 1: Understanding and gathering

We uncover the anatomy of a tweet and the cultural politics of Twitter. You will decide what you want to analyse: a company hashtag? A campaign hashtag? A cultural reference? You will learn to use TAGS, a free and open framework for accessing the data you need, and discuss the implications of accessing these data. What are the restrictions? What about user privacy and ethics?

Week 2: Analysing

You will encounter Tableau, a desktop software for analysing your data without complex scripts or code. You will learn how to identify trends, patterns and variances in your data. You will also see real examples of how analyses of social media have been used in times of crisis and during political campaigns, and explore the pros and cons of analysing social media data in real time.

Week 3: Visualising

You will use the software Gephi to visualise the networks in your data. We will discuss the benefits of using digital tools to analyse social media data, and also consider how such analyses may be supported by other methods. We will see the results of real social media analyses, and revisit the concept of user privacy.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsJean: Social media can feel noisy. How can we get beyond the day to day to see the big picture? What if you could unlock the meaning behind all the noise? How can we reveal the conversations inside the huge amounts of data we generate everyday?

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 secondsAxel: Maybe you're an activist who wants to know who's saying what about climate change, or you want to know what people really think about your product or service. Digital methods can help you discover a whole world of meaningful data, and make sense of it, no matter what you're interested in. What will you find?

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 secondsTim: This course will take you through a step-by-step approach to making sense of social media conversations on Twitter. From forming a research question to visualising your data, your quest will be to find answers that are personally meaningful to you. You will learn these tools and techniques from world leaders in social media research, based at the Digital Media Research Centre at QUT. We will share real case studies in politics, crises and other events we've studied using social data.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 secondsWe'll also look at the big picture: what is the value of social media? What does it mean to our everyday lives? What are the implications? You will be able to share your own ideas and work with your peers, and use what you learn in your life beyond this course.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsAxel: It's about you being part of conversations and understanding those conversations.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsJean: Join us, and start making sense of social media.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsWelcome to Social Media Analytics: Using Data to Understand Public Conversations.

What topics will you cover?

  • The role and structures of social media conversations
  • Methods for and implications of gathering data
  • Key metrics used for analysing Twitter
  • Methods for identifying trends in social data
  • The theory of social networks
  • Methods for creating and interpreting data visualisations

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Access social media data and understand the ethical implications of doing this
  • Apply digital methods to recognise and explain the significance of patterns in social data
  • Create data visualisations and use them to identify features of social networks
  • Draw personally relevant conclusions about social media that apply beyond the course

Who is the course for?

Everything you need to succeed in this course is provided, or can be downloaded for free. There is no special prior experience or knowledge required to join in. To make the most of this course, learners will need to

  • install or access the following tools: TAGS, Tableau and Gephi
  • use a laptop or desktop computer so you can install and complete activities with these tools
  • have already or create both a Google and Twitter account

We will guide you through the setup of these tools, step by step, as you progress through the content of the course. The use of these tools is what will really give you a powerful learning experience, letting you explore your own interests and put the theory to the test.

What do people say about this course?

I've learned a lot about networks and social media. Also about the topic of my research on political discussion and networks on social media, I started off with a question that was very broad and learned a lot from taking a little stab at it and seeing how the research unfolded. I definitely want to continue what I've started!

Ruth Chiat

Who will you learn with?

Jean Burgess

Jean Burgess

Director of the QUT Digital Media Research Centre. Professor of Digital Media. Expert in the uses and politics of social media, as well as new digital methods for studying them. http://goo.gl/fhAoiv

Axel Bruns

Axel Bruns

Professor in the QUT Digital Media Research Centre. President of the Association of Internet Researchers. Expert on the impact of user-led content creation and participation. http://goo.gl/NQD9Cy

Tim Highfield

Tim Highfield

Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at QUT and a member of the Digital Media Research Centre. Tim's research explores social, cultural, and political uses of social media. http://goo.gl/ohftRD

Who developed the course?

Queensland University of Technology

QUT is a leading Australian university ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide by the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Located in Brisbane, it attracts over 50,000 students.

  • Established1989
  • LocationBrisbane, Australia
  • World rankingTop 180Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019


content provided by

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript


Statement of Participation