Social Media Audit and Analytics: Exercises for Marketing and Public Relations Courses

Social Media Audit and Analytics: Exercises for Marketing and Public Relations Courses

Ana Adi (Bournemouth University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2851-9.ch007
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Beyond influencing the ways we communicate and we do business, social media is currently challenging traditional higher education in many respects: from the way in which courses are delivered and students interact with each other and with their lecturers to the content that the courses cover. In particular, the emergence of the social media specialist working in marketing-communications, creative industries or journalism, and their use of ever-changing content management and analytics tools require adaptation of courses to the constant changes in industry. Starting from two case studies of teaching social media auditing and analytics as part of courses taught in Belgium and Bahrain, this chapter aims to present a model exercise for marketing and public relations classrooms covering these topics. The discussion of the challenges of teaching social media audit and analytics emphasizes the need of more and constant collaboration between academia and industry as well as the need to ensure that students have a high level of media literacy before they embark on such a career route.
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Defining Social Media, Audits, And Analytics

Social media is one of the newest concepts associated with new and emerging technologies and one of the fastest growing areas within the new media landscape. In her review of the impact of new media on public relations, Melanie James (2007) emphasizes that definitions related to new media remain fluid and continue to evolve, their key features including portability of data and mobility in communications. Like new media definitions, social media definitions are fluid as well. Heidi Cohen’s (2011) collection of 30 definitions of social media offered by a group of social media, marketing and PR professionals and Econsultancy’s (2009), a community for digital marketers, equally impressive list of 34 definitions are both good examples. While some definitions focus on platforms, formats, tools and specificities of the digital content production process, others provide reflections about social media as channels for communication and interaction between organizations and target audiences.

However different, most of the definitions recognize that communication through social media is in real-time and users generate the content that can be posted, transported, linked or aggregated from a platform to another. Among the platforms mentioned most often are Facebook, the social networking site with more than 640 million registered users, Twitter, the micro-blogging platform with more than 200 million registered users (Uehara Henrikson, 2011) and YouTube, the multi-media sharing site owned by Google where more than 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute (Bal, 2011).

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