The ability to critically interrogate social media data is an important skillset for today’s students

The Social Media Research Foundation recently hosted a week-long summer school on using social network analysis and NodeXL to analyse social media datasets. The summer school touched on important research areas such as disinformation, the current state of social media research, and the current state of computational social science more generally. The event was immensely popular and a repeat event is scheduled for January 2022.

The need to gain insights into social media has grown in importance with the increasing popularity of social networking websites and their influence on society and business. More and more people are increasingly participating in online communities for social, commercial, and civic interaction, new methods are needed to study these phenomena.

Students across a range of disciplines and departments will benefit from having knowledge of how to dig in deeper to conversations taking place across social media. Students may be tasked with growing their organisations social media presence, managing crisis events unfolding on social media, and/or be directly responsible for the management of their organisation’s platforms. Students working in public health may be interested in examining disinformation networks and campaigns.

NodeXL Pro, used in various classes and businesses around the world, offers the ability to import and analyse social media data drawing upon methods such as social network analysis. It is provided as an ad-on to the familiar Microsoft Excel application, and it was recently used to identify disinformation around COVID-19.

NodeXL Pro can tap into a number of platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia among others. It can also allow users to import their own data into the application. It has many thousands of academic citations and is a more affordable alternative to many expensive tools.

Moreover, a key differentiating feature to NodeXL Pro is the ability to interrogate the data behind the visuals and analytics as opposed to only viewing the resulting metrics, as is the case with some tools. The figure below provides an example of a visualised Twitter community. It shows the Twitter account of the World Health Organisation visualised in NodeXL Pro. Alongside the network a vast number of metrics are also produced.

Figure 1. The WHO Twitter network

Interested in learning more about introducing NodeXL Pro in your classes? Be sure to complete this form (https://forms.gle/Ak4BumyXhYxg9sXV8) to receive free information and example syllabuses that are using NodeXL Pro with the option to speak with an instructor!

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