Week 9: Impacts – Media

Lecture: Using social media metrics. (Guest lecturer: Verity Trott)

Baym, N. K. (2013). Data not seen: The uses and shortcomings of social media metrics. First Monday, 18(10), 1–16.

Tutorial: What can social media analytics measure and how?

Activity 1:
Before the tutorial, note several (five would be very good!) instances where you responded to material online. Pay attention to the following aspects of what you do:

  • What are you responding to (text, image, sound, something else?)
  • What platform is the material on (Facebook, Instagram etc)?
  • What was the nature of your response (like, share, comments, etc)?

When you come to class, you should be prepared to present two of your examples to the group focusing on whether the platform affected the nature of your response and whether and how your level of engagement with the original material is reflected in your response.

Questions for general discussion:

  • Do we respond differently on different platforms as a result of the possibilities which they offer?
  • Is the value of a particular sort of response the same across different platforms? (i.e. is a reaction on Facebook equivalent to a reaction on Instagram?) If you can identify cases where you think there is a difference, why do you think that might be?
  • Can we rank different kinds of response in a way which reflects our level of engagement? Would such a scale be general or platform-specific?

Activity 2:
Go to http://tweeplers.com/hashtags/?cc=AU

How many of the listed hashtags are clearly about politics? (You may need to have a look at some of the threads to get a clear sense of this.)

Choose one of the political hashtags and have a look at the thread. Gather information about the following questions:

  1. Is this thread a general one, or is it tied to a specific political issue?
  2. To what extent do you think a range of views is being expressed? Try to take the first twenty messages and assign them to categories (in favour of X, against X) – how difficult is it to do this?

The page you started from ranks hashtags by the number of times they are used in every 1k tweets. This is a useful number for assessing relative prominence of topics, but how much does it tell us beyond that? (some additional questions to think about here: how many twitter users are there in Australia? How many tweets are sent per hour?)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Could you use the information you found on twitter as evidence for analysing politics? Which sorts of information (quantitative, qualitative) could be used for what purposes?
  2. Do you think that assessing level of engagement by ranking types of response and then counting them is valid?
  3. Or is this a point (as Bahm suggests in the end) where the digital and the humanistic part company?


If you are interested in adding analytics to your site, there are plenty of possibilities – here is a starting point.

Exercise: Adding sound in WordPress

Using Audacity

  1. Use one of the recordings you have made on campus, or make a recording on your phone, or use Audacity and the internal microphone on your computer.
  2. Open your recording in Audacity (if you used your phone, you will need to upload the file to a computer)
  3. Do some basic editing – for example, delete the start and end of the recording if they are not important, or add fades at either end.
  4. Save the results as an mp3 file, then upload this to your WordPress Media Library
  5. Start editing a new page or post and insert your audio using Add Media – WordPress will automatically insert its audio player.
  6. Preview your page/post and check that the audio works.

Audio to explore: oral history Australian Generations, Sonic Japan

Image credit: The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and JESS3