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The Social Media Analytics Class Activity: Why?
Having a social media analytics class activity is vital to teaching our students social media analytics, including account analytics and social listening. But, as educators, getting our hands on social media analytics software in the classroom is an increasing challenge.
This post and the one that will follow it will discuss the new social media software I am using, Keyhole.co. It discusses how to use Keyhole.co hashtag analytics software to teach analytics and social listening skills (note: The name is a bit misleading. Keyhole does much more than hashtag analytics). In the first post in this series, I offer a beginner’s social media activity for using Keyhole along with step-by-step instructions for doing so.I also offer a social media audit assignment that is designed to be used with the Keyhole software.
In the second post, I offer a spreadsheet that students can use to track metrics from Keyhole.co related to social media account metrics on Twitter and Instagram, identify social media account optimization opportunities, and engage in social listening. I also provide instruction for how to complete these tasks.
Choosing Social Media Analytics Software: What to Consider
Over the last few years, several social media analytics companies generously offered university classrooms free access to their software. However, with the closure of the Meltwater university program and the discontinuation of Microsoft Social Engagement, those options have become limited. Professors have had to search for affordable solutions during a time of economic uncertainty in academia.
So I posed a question to the always-awesome Social Media Professors Community Facebook Group this past summer seeking suggestions of paid social media analytics software. A few tools were suggested (thank you so much for the input!) all with distinct advantages and limitations. I set up interviews and software demos with several companies to learn about their features and costs.
Taking into consideration many factors including the needs of my classes, the features of the software, and pricing, we decided to go with Keyhole.co. However, I encourage you to do your research, set up software demos or try free trials, and find what works best for you and your students.
While each company in the social media analytics space prices differently, some common variables that impact pricing are:
- Number of keyword trackers – The total number of unique searches you can collect data for simultaneously. Usually, each tracker can have multiple keywords in it. Example: 1 keyword tracker may track 3 different automobile brands.
- Number of account trackers – The total number of social media accounts for which you can collect account metrics for simultaneously. Example: If your client has a Twitter, an Instagram, and a Facebook account that you want to track, you would need 3 total account trackers to do so.
- Features – For example, does the software offer account metrics tracking? Does it offer social listening through keywords and hashtags? Does it offer features for publicly sharing metrics dashboards?
- Posts per month – the total number of posts across your entire account that you can collect in a given month. Examples: 10,000 posts a month; 50,000 posts a month. After that number is reached, the software stops collecting until a new month begins. If you are using the software across several classes simultaneously, have a lot of students setting up trackers, or if your trackers are following well-known brands or trending hashtags, these posts will be quickly eaten away.
- Number of login accounts – How many different login accounts you get. This is a vital question. Are your teams working in groups and can share logins, or do you need each student to be able to login separately?
Each company may value the above variables, or others not mentioned, differently. For example, one company may base pricing heavily on the number of keyword trackers and be pretty loose on the number of login accounts whereas another company may have no wiggle room on login accounts but be willing to give you additional posts per month to close the deal.
Using Keyhole Social Media Analytics Software for Social Listening
This series is really an update to older posts that looked at the use of Microsoft Social Engagement to track a class client and Meltwater to conduct a social media audit as well as using Meltwater for conducting social media listening about a client. I adjusted those earlier assignments to update them to the changing landscape and the affordances of the Keyhole software. But you may want to check both of those assignments out for some backstory if you are new to teaching social media analytics.
Alright, the history aside, let’s get into it:
First, I assign my students to watch the videos on Keyhole’s YouTube channel to familiarize themselves with the software. I provide a brief lecture discussing why social media listening is important. In the lecture I also discuss Boolean operators as they are useful in setting up keyword searches.
Intro to Social Media Analytics Class Activity with Keyhole
After the lecture, students are told that they are to use Keyhole to do a little social listening on a brand. My go to brand for years for this assignment has been Burt’s Bees. I choose them because I know some of their history, I have used some of their products, and because they make a variety of products across ages and genders (soaps, toothpastes, lip balms, lotions, etc.), increasing the chance that my students will be familiar with them. Further, Burt’s Bees is popular among bloggers and YouTubers, so there is often a sufficient amount of chatter about them. But you can use any brand you’re familiar with so long as there is sufficient chatter about the brand on social.
The purpose of the exercise is for students to apply the features of the Keyhole software to uncover what is being said about Burt’s Bees across the social web. Thus, they are learning two things: 1) About social listening, and 2) About how to use the Keyhole software.
This social media analytics class activity takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. I set this activity up to be completed during an online synchronous class (OLS) during Fall 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Students worked in breakout rooms on Zoom. You will note that Keyhole allows users to create a shareable link of their search dashboards. This allows students to share a limited view of their dashboards with clients or easily with you during class (Of course, if you are logged in you can see their dashboards as well… but it is an quick and easy way to pull them up).
The Social Media Audit Assignment using the Keyhole Software
The above activity is often followed by my social media audit assignment. Below is a summary of that assignment as originally posted on this blog in September, 2017.
The students are now prepared for the social media audit assignment. In that assignment, the students use Meltwater and free tools to conduct a social media audit of their client as well as 2 of their client’s competitors. Dr. Gallicano has some great examples of social media audits completed by students on her blog here. You can see a few of them cited in my social media audit assignment below. The students compare and contrast the client to the competitors and look for recommendations to the client on how they can improve their social media. The client in my social media class is our department’s social media, but you could apply this to any industry. (Read more about how I set up our department’s social media as the class client). The assignment is a group assignment with some time given to students work in class.
The assignment is the first major assignment students do in my class and is the foundation for creating the strategic briefs the students create after that.
Below, I have provided the new social media audit assignment which has been updated to reflect the Keyhole software. A few other modifications were made as well to improve the assignment. You can also find it on my SlideShare.net page.
Want to learn more?
Social media audits and social media listening are discussed in chapters 4 and 7 of my book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love.
Notes and Disclosure: This blog post discusses how I am using this software in my classroom to provide descriptive information for educators about my experience. This post is not an endorsement nor a criticism of Keyhole or any other software. I have not received any encouragement, incentives, compensation or discounts whatsoever for my discussion of Keyhole.co in this blog post. The university I work for did not receive any encouragement, incentives, compensation or discount whatsoever for my discussion of Keyhole.co.