Teaching with Data: Use Social Media Data to Inform Organizational Strategy

Resources & Strategies for Faculty Teaching Undergraduates

Use Social Media Data to Inform Organizational Strategy

Faculty Author: Katja Reuter

Course: Using Social Media Data to Gain Community Insights and Inform Organizational Strategy Workshops

Department or School: The Digital Scholar Training Initiative

Student Population: Graduate students from varied departments

Duration:  2 2­‐hour workshops


  • Group project analysis report
  • Group infographic

Keywords: writing, data, analysis, essay, research paper, social media, infographics, Symplur, Twitter, health

Summary:  Students extract data from a social­‐media database to answer health-‐related questions, and produce infographics of their results.

Assignment Goals:  In this workshop, you will learn how to use social media data (social media listening) to gain insights into emerging community needs, trends, and conversations. During the workshop, you will get access to Symplur Signals, a database of disease-­ and healthcare-related Twitter user messages (tweets), hashtags, and Twitter user profiles.

In workshop 1, using a series of example studies, Symplur representatives will show you how to best use Symplur Signals and explain the types of questions that can be answered leveraging this type of social media data. In workshop 2, students will work in groups of four to complete one of the proposed analysis projects and develop data reports.

Recommended Tools:

  • Symplur
  • Easel.ly infographics-­building software
  • Microsoft Word or other word-­processing program

Faculty Author Advice:  It is important to be up­‐front with students about the work expectations for this project.  The cost of access to the Symplur database is a significant barrier to its use at the university.