An important untapped resource for college student educators on social media is the act of “social listening.” The term social listening is borrowed from the world of marketing where companies will search for their names and products via social media to find out what consumers are saying. Social listening on college campuses is very similar. It allows educators and administrators to:
- Get the pulse on campus culture and find out what matters to students.
- Address problems and complaints and proactively work towards continuous improvement.
- Gather feedback on programs and services and find out what students really think.
- Understand what is going on during crisis and emergency situations.
Educators can engage in social listening through a number of channels by reading, collecting, and analyzing data from:
- Posts to official and unofficial social media pages.
- Conversations on commonly used campus hashtags.
- Posts on to YikYak and other geosocial networks that aggregate posts by location.
- Searches for campus and office names and terms.
Social listening should be a regular part of any professional’s, department’s or division’s routines. Given that information on social media spreads quickly, it is increasingly important that colleges and universities understand what is being said. This may allow them to get ahead of trends and correct misinformation before it spreads.
It’s simple to get started. Just log on to social media and start searching and reading. For more sophisticated operations, there are also a number of tools that facilitate and automate social listening, including common social media scheduling and aggregating tools such as Hootsuite.
Are you ready to start listening?
Two additional resources: The folks over at Mutual Mind put together the following two visualizations (the three categories and the pyramid) that help explain social listening how you can take it to the next level: