Thursday, 16 October 2014

Analytics, Social Media Management and Research Impact

Sebastian Stevens is an Associate Lecturer and Research Assistant at Plymouth University. He teaches research methods to social science students specialising in quantitative methods. He is on twitter @sebstevens99 and has a blog site at www.everydaysocialresearch.com. 

A key benefit that social media can bring to social science research is through impact and engagement. Demonstrating how a research project will achieve impact and engage the public is a key requirement of most social science research bids today, with many funders looking for more than the traditional conference and journal article as being sufficient. Funders today want to see not only how your research will contribute to the current body of knowledge, but also how your research could impact other areas of academia as well as providing public engagement and economic and societal wide benefits.

To promote your research to the widest possible audience, it is often necessary to use a number of Social Media platforms in order to access different populations. It is also now possible to measure this level of engagement through the use of web analytics with the two most common social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) both providing free access to analytic software for their users. Managing the content and evaluating the impact of a number of social media platforms can however become tiresome and laborious, an issue overcome by the use of a Social Media Management System (SMMS).

The benefits of using a SMMS are vast and take the hassle out of managing multiple social media platforms for your research for a reasonable yearly subscription. There are many SMMS on the market today with an example that I am currently using on a project being Hootsuite. This particular SMMS provides a research team the benefits of:

1.    Scheduling – Researchers are busy people and have little time to manage multiple social media accounts. With a SMMS you can schedule posts to be sent to multiple social media platforms at times of the day known to deliver the largest impact.

2.    Enhanced analytics – The standard analytics of the accounts included in the SMMS are available in one place, alongside extra features including Google Analytics and Klout scores.  

3.    Streams – These provide the opportunity to keep up to date with features of your accounts such as your newsfeeds, retweets, mentions, hashtag usage plus many others.

4.    Multiple Authors – Multiple authors can be added to the system taking the responsibility away from one member of the team.

5.    RSS/Atom feeds – You can keep up with updates of other websites related to your research by adding the RSS/Atom feeds to the system.

By adopting the use of a SMMS a research team has a centralised, hassle free dashboard in which to create and post content alongside evaluating its impact. Each management system comes at a different price and includes different features, however most will take the hassle out of managing your social media platforms and provide greater opportunities to evaluate your research impact.

 

 

 

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