Writing and implementing social media into public relations campaigns and programs is one thing, but monitoring and measuring it online is another. In the classroom, we are not only encouraged to show our students how to use social media in public relations – but there are some professors that do not like social media and do not want to learn the new technology. Well, I have to say that I think that we have no choice in the matter as professionals and scholars – technology is integrated and part of what we do in public relations. We are all life-long learners, and it is our role to best prepare our students with the right tools and skill to enter the workplace.
Measuring social media is indeed a hot topic that is being discussed among the professionals in the field, and it is definitely something that we need to share with our students so they have this knowledge for their first position as well. There are many sites that would be good for students to practice monitoring and tracking social media – and can possibly be incorporated into class assignments and projects.
Also, the missing link that I have seen in other courses that incorporate social media in the classroom is showing the students how to actually measure, monitor, and track social media. For example, what does it mean in terms of looking at who is connected to who on Facebook or Twitter? Also, can researchers and professionals code what people are saying in their status updates and tweets? The answer is yes of course – Brian Solis recently wrote a blog post that discusses how he had been working on a project with Dan Zarrella and shows this can be done by doing a content analysis of the key terms and looking at when individuals are posting.
Measuring social media is indeed both a science and an art – like public relations. :) We have to use both quantitative (ex. scientific method) research as well as qualitative (ex. grounded theory approach to look at themes that emerge from the data) when analyzing social media. There is a lot of opportunities to conduct research in this area, and it is indeed an exciting time for public relations professionals.
Hope you all are having a great day.