Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsDAVID MILLARD: Hello. Welcome to the Power of Social Media. My name is David Millard.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsLISA HARRIS: And I'm Lisa Harris.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsDAVID MILLARD: So social media has been a huge part of our lives for the last 10 years. But how much do you understand social media? And are we using it in the right way?

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 secondsLISA HARRIS: Well, that's a really interesting question, isn't it? Because we hear lots of negative things about social media. We hear about trolling, we hear about inappropriate behaviour, people losing their jobs. But we hear less about the positive side, how people are using it in a professional way. And that's really what we want to focus on in this course. So you're doing the first week, Dave. What are you going to be covering?

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsDAVID MILLARD: So we're going to be looking at how you describe social media, how you can analyse it, particularly at scale. And we're also to be looking at how those types of analysis can miss out some of the details of our personal interactions. How about you? Tell us about week 2.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 secondsLISA HARRIS: Well, in week 2, we're going to be looking at how social media can be used in our professional lives. So we're going to be looking at how, for example, people can get jobs through social media, how recruiters can find the best candidates using social media, how charities can canvas support, potentially on a global basis, using social media. And we'll also cover some key concepts, like paying it forward. And we talk about digital literacies and employer branding. So there's lots of things to do.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsDAVID MILLARD: And the networks we use? Are they similar? Does it matter which ones we're part of?

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsLISA HARRIS: Well, all the main social networks have very distinct characteristics, and one of the things we'll be exploring is which work best and when. So that's a critical part of the course as well. Don't forget that the course itself is a social network. We'll be encouraging learners to interact with each other and build their own networks, and directly put into practise what they've been learning. That's one of the key points for me. What about you? What do you think is the key thing you want learners to get out of the course?

Skip to 1 minute and 54 secondsDAVID MILLARD: So for me, I think the key thing is to try to point out some of the differences between the way we interact face-to-face and the way that we interact online. And the fact that you're talking to a much bigger and more diverse audience, and you should be aware of that. But also that you can say more than you realise, and that is a danger. But it's also an opportunity, if you understand how people can use social media and what it says about you, it's really an opportunity for you as well.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsLISA HARRIS: Great. So we hope you enjoy the course. We're looking forward to it.

Welcome to the course

In this short video you meet your lead educators Dr David Millard and Dr Lisa Harris who introduce the course content and the distinct nature of each of the two weeks.

Key information about this course can be found further down this page.


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Add yourself to our interactive map below. Here is how to do this:

  1. Click on the link.
  2. At the top left of the map click the tab marked ‘Additions’.
  3. Choose ‘Add Marker- Simple’.
  4. Type your name in the Entry Name field. We suggest that you use only your first name for security reasons.
  5. Type your location in the location field (e.g. your city & country). Alternatively you can use the ‘click on map location’ feature. Please don’t put your full address for security reasons.
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Once you have added yourself to the map, please click the ‘back button’ on your browser to come back here. Then introduce yourself in the comments area and tell us what it is about social media that fascinates you.

Go to the Interactive Map


Your online Mentoring Team

During the course, Web Science PhD students Nora Al-Rajebah and Manuel León will be supporting David and Lisa.

You can follow them by selecting the links to their FutureLearn profile pages and selecting ‘follow’. That way, you’ll be able to see all the comments that they make.


Key information about this course

This course is part of a collection of Web Science courses supported by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton. Other courses in this collection include the introductory course Web Science: how the web is changing the world, Learning in the Network Age and Introduction to Linked Data and the Semantic Web.

Web Science is all about the study of the Web as a socio-technical system, in other words Web Science is about seeing the Web as a system where technology and people are equally as important. Web Scientists draw on multiple disciplines to understand how and why the Web functions as it does.

David and Lisa have very different backgrounds. David is a Computer Scientist and Lisa originally worked in business and was an early adopter of Digital Marketing and the application of social technologies for teaching and learning. However, both of our educators would now include Web Scientist in their biography.

In this course we draw heavily on the ideas of Web Science, and begin by looking at how social media can be analysed to tell us interesting information about ourselves as individuals and as a society. In this context we then look at how we should best conduct ourselves online to avoid the pitfalls while taking advantage of the opportunities.

The course is split into two weeks:

  • In week 1 we look at networks, and how we can use our understanding of network structure to analyse social networks to allow us to compare them, and understand the roles of individuals within the networks.

We will spend time reflecting on the networks that we see within social media, look at network properties and structures, and apply these ideas to see if we can identify influential individuals within a network.

This first week takes a broad view, but at every stage we will consider how this applies to the social media that you are involved with, and reflect on how this knowledge might change your behaviour, or enable you to look in a more sophisticated way at the behaviour of others.

  • In week 2 we explore how social media can be made to work for us on a professional basis - for example to mobilise support around a worthy cause, find a job or develop a career path. We will look in detail at the opportunities offered by professional social networks, and explore how you can build and manage your own. We will consider how the world of recruitment is changing as employers and potential employees use social tools to show what they each have to offer, and check each other out. We will discuss the role of social media in marketing on a tight budget, employer branding, ‘paying it forward’ and digital literacies.

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This video is from the free online course:

The Power of Social Media

University of Southampton

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