Social media research workshop exceeds 240 registrants

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 11:00am

by Kaitlin Van Loon

The Public Insight Lab in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications hosted a free Zoom workshop “Tools and Training for Social Media Research” on May 6.

The conference also had support from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium and the Methodology and Evaluation Research Core Facility.

Valerie Jones, director of the Public Insight Lab and CoJMC’s Seaton professor of journalism, and Lisa PytlikZillig, interim director of the UNL Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium, were the workshop’s creators and moderators.

This was the first “Tools and Training for Social Media Research” workshop and it attracted over 240 registrants from across the globe, spanning 50-plus disciplines and 25-plus universities and colleges.

“The Public Insight Lab is designed to be a hub for social media research at UNL. We developed this workshop to connect social media expertise and interest not just across campus but also across the country, and we were thrilled to see such a great response,” Jones said. “It really speaks to the relevance and importance of this topic.” 

The workshop was split into four sessions. The first session highlighted why social media matters. Faculty from UNL, the University of Alabama, Clemson and Louisiana State University had five minutes each to showcase their social media research projects using one to three slides of information.

“The Flash Talk format was really effective at demonstrating how many researchers from different disciplines are currently using social media data to address a broad range of research questions,” said Patricia Wonch Hill, research assistant professor in UNL’s sociology department. “It really helped me to think more broadly about all the possible ways I might be able to use social media tools across many of my projects.”  

Jones and Sprinklr Success Manager Pranay Joshi led session two. Sprinklr is a social listening tool in the Public Insight Lab, designed for social intelligence data mining. They talked about the numerous ways Sprinklr can be used for academic research, from exploring initial hypotheses to downloading historical data from Twitter, news, blogs and forums. Through Sprinklr, all of this can be done without coding knowledge or data limitations.

“The power of a social listening tool is the ability to get social media data –the RIGHT data to answer your question– quickly and easily. Then researchers can focus their time and energy on analyzing and interpreting the data, rather than tracking it down,” said Jones.   

Brandon Boatwright from Clemson University led session three, an overview of Sprinklr’s “Topics” functionality. Attendees learned about filtration techniques that are used to collect specific data beyond basic listening.

Session four’s “Designing and Analyzing Social Media Research” was presented by Jameson Hayes of the University of Alabama. This was an interactive session where Hayes provided tips on how to design research to answer theoretical questions via social media data.

The workshop concluded with an in-person social hour at The Mill on Nebraska’s Innovation campus.

The videos from the workshop are available here to highlight and illustrate valuable approaches and tools for social media research in academia.

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