Salve Regina launches a new Social Media Listening Lab for students
As the world becomes increasingly digital, social media will continue to play a vital role in society. With this in mind, an academic highlight of the fall 2021 semester has been the installment of the new Social Media Listening Lab.
Located in the O’Hare Academic Building, Room 141, the lab was approved by faculty at Salve Regina who expressed a desire to have social media monitoring technology for use in the classroom, according to Irving Bruckstein, associate vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
“The reasons for a Social Media Listening Lab were two-fold,” said Bruckstein. “One was to have a state-of-the-art media monitoring platform which does a variety of things …. The other was to create a robust networking technology so students can access the media monitoring tools in the cloud.”
The lab is utilizing a platform called SproutSocial, which does real-time natural language processing to determine sentiment analysis — the process of detecting positive or negative sentiment in text. This means that students can track applications like Facebook, Instagram Twitter across industries, political campaigns, and marketing and advertising campaigns to assess what kind of messaging is resonating with audiences.
Overall, the key function of social listening is to uncover critical insights — like helping a brand build a deeper understanding of the target audience, generating insight into sentiment around the brand and monitoring global social conversations around a particular industry.
Classes use the Social Media Listening Lab
Dr. Hyoyeun Jun, assistant professor in the Department of English, Communications and Media, is one of the professors who has been using the Social Media Listening Lab for ENG-360 Social Media Strategies this fall 2021 semester. While Dr. Jun also lectures on social media and public relations theory, the lab helps students gain experiential skills.
For her current class, Dr. Jun has each student creating a fictitious business that they will then promote through social media, and SproutSocial is helping each student monitor trends of their chosen industry so that they can see first-hand what works, what doesn’t and how to help promote a business online.
“It’s exciting, because students really get to practice the hands-on experience of what they will do after they graduate,” Dr. Jun said. “They will be professionally ready for any kind of social media managerial jobs or social media strategy communication jobs.”
Claire Daly ’22, an English communications major and a marketing minor, is one of the students in Dr. Jun’s class. She is currently planning on creating a fictitious business around slow fashion and vintage resale thrift, because these ideas are popular with her age demographic.
“I’m listening in on businesses like Depop and Poshmark — bigger companies that sort of own the resale space at the moment — and trying to hone in on my idea for a business,” Daly said. “It’s going to be a smaller business, but I think it’s helpful to be able to have access to this information about bigger companies, so you can carve out your niche.”
Dr. Jennifer Bonoff, assistant professor in the Department of Business and Economics, is also currently using the lab for two of her classes: MGT-422 Marketing Strategies and MGT-490 Strategic Business Planning.
“A highlight for MGT-422 this semester is that teams of students are taking part in a nationwide Digital Marketing Competition, where they will use the SproutSocial software to help conduct research, craft a paid and owned strategy, choose appropriate media, and pinpoint methods of evaluation for the sponsored company,” Dr. Bonoff described. “I’m excited to see the outcome of materials produced for this competition with the added social listening tool.”
Envisioning a future for the lab
Dr. Bonoff also pointed out that the Center for Business Outreach (CBO) at Salve Regina will most likely use the Social Media Listening Lab.
“Over the past five years, the CBO has partnered with over 1,000 Salve Regina students and roughly 150 companies to assist with marketing strategy, social media, survey research, entrepreneurial endeavors, and business planning, totaling more than 50,000 hours of experiential engagement for Salve students,” Dr. Bonoff explained. “The Social Media Listening Lab will further facilitate this process and open up other avenues to delve further into analytics, engagement and cutting-edge research.”
As the Social Media Listening Lab takes off, more professors and academic departments will determine usages for the lab, according to Bruckstein. Ultimately, only a handful of smaller universities have labs like this, and Salve Regina is proud to offer these kinds of opportunities to its students.
“The world communicates on social media today, so having the ability to understand that, to do analytics and have meaningful data about what’s going on is invaluable,” Bruckstein concluded.