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Introducing Social Media Analytics

Learn more about the importance of social media data during crisis.


Social media is everywhere (think: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat—the list goes on). When it comes to social media, the content is more than words, pictures, and links. All of these social media platforms generate massive amounts of data. The platforms collect information about the way people feel, as well as human interactions and viewpoints, among other things. This data can capture cognitions, emotions, behaviours, and attitudes—all of which are constantly changing, yet insightful and valuable.

In business, this data can be used to learn from customers, improve products and services, and even gain a competitive advantage. However, social media data most often contains messy, unstructured information, which is notoriously difficult to handle. That means we have to know how to separate the significant from the insignificant and analyse the data accurately.

We know that social media is a powerful tool. As discussed in the video, during Superstorm Sandy it was used to pass on vital information to people who could not access traditional news outlets, like TV or radio. As we learned, information about the storm generated at least 40,000 tweets. The vast amount of information being sent on social media became a huge asset to people in the path of that deadly storm.

With all of the posts out there, how would you sort through these tweets? What kinds of trends would you look for during a situation like that?

Social media analytics presents many possibilities by gathering data and analysing social media data. However, the role of social media analytics is to make data from the content useful and effective. In this course, we’ll discuss the opportunities and limitations of using social media data, explore the basic types of social media data, identify the possibilities and techniques available, and use data to answer questions and report actionable insights.

This week, you will learn about the net benefits and opportunities offered by social media in supporting your social media communication, advertising, or PR campaigns.

  • From your experiences, what are some ways that social media analysis is useful for businesses?

Download the paper on social media and natural emergencies to read more about how Dr. Matei’s research team at Purdue University analysed Superstorm Sandy tweets to explore how people react in a crisis.

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Digital Media Analytics: Introduction

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