With today’s technological advances, communications professionals can “listen” with more than just their ears.

Social media provides those in the public relations field with information we couldn’t gather in traditional ways, such as time of day, day of week, demographics, and negative and positive correlations. Certain programs have enhanced the insights we use to evaluate our communications strategies and learn what our clients, fans and supporters respond to.

Clemson University’s college of Architecture, Arts and Humanities has focused its efforts on the importance of communication studies majors understanding how to listen. In these efforts, the Social Media Listening Center at Clemson was created to provide an outlet for students to study the conversations via social media around the world. Using the Radian6 technology, the Social Media Listening Center will allow tracking of trends, phrases and words with targeting and measurable data.

As a former student at Clemson in the communication studies department, president of the Public Relations Student Society of America, communications lab assistant and communication studies ambassador, I was asked to come back and speak at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Social Media Listening Center on September 6. Along with thanks and regards, I shared my experiences with the college of AAH and how the Social Media Listening Center will be such an asset for the University, college, faculty, staff and students. I further explained how having experience with Radian6 and social media tracking would help students stand out when interviewing for internships and jobs because they’ll have the technology and structure of the future of communications.

The most recent tragedy in our country, the Navy Yard shooting on September 16, was the first time the Social Media Listening Center was put to the test for tracking a global event. Students put terms such as “Naval” and “shooting” into the search engine to track the volume, location and most important of all, the sentiment of those words on live social media. The Radian6 program was able to compile reports as to social media users feeling angry, sad and outraged over the shooting. Students were able to learn how the shooting affected not only mood and attitude, but how the news spread around the world faster online than on radio, television or print – proving social media to be significant to study and listen to as a communications professional.

Clemson professor analyzing the results of the Naval Shooting on September 16.

Clemson professor analyzing the results of the Naval Shooting on September 16.

The grand opening of the Social Media Listening Center at Clemson University September 6.

The grand opening of the Social Media Listening Center at Clemson University September 6.